Through the first five games, the Atlanta Falcons are 2-3, and have faced two teams with playoff appearances last season, both of which resulted in losses.
Other than the first game of the season, the Falcons offense has shown flashes of a high-scoring offense that can compete in shootouts. They’ve also seemed stagnant at times, struggling to push the ball down the field and capitalize on opportunities. Over the past four games, the Falcons haven’t faced a defense ranking in the top half of the league for points allowed and have only scored 30 points in one game thus far. They’re averaging 21 points a game this season which is in the bottom third of the NFL.
Atlanta’s 319.8 yards per game is seventh-worst and they stand at 20th in passing yards with 931 and passing yards per game with 232.8. The run game has been subpar through the first four games, currently sitting at 2 in rush yards with 347 and rush yards per game with 86.8. In their first win of the season, they escaped the New York Giants with a game-winning 40-yard field goal from Younghoe Koo.
Defense has haunted the Falcons for the last few years, but this group seems to be picking up right where they left off through five games. The only two teams that haven’t put up 30 on the Falcons are the New York Jets and the Giants, both average offenses, at best. The Falcons defensive unit has allowed 148 points on 383.3 yards per game.
The Falcons rank third-worst in sacks and, before Sunday, had not intercepted a single pass this season until Jaylinn Hawkings picked off Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson in London. A bright spot for the Falcons offense is forced fumbles, where they sit at 12th best in the league with five while maintaining the innate awareness to recover two of them. They are 19th in quarterback hurries with 13 and another bright spot in the Falcons defense has been pass deflections with 20, which gives the Falcons a top seven ranking.
Offensive Bright Spot
Ridley’s quick-cut ability is shown through his exceptional route running, allowing Matt Ryan to trust him to as a number one target. Ridley’s speed and route running puts him in the position to be at the right place at the right time to make a play that will spark the Falcons offense.
Defensive Bright Spot
Oluokun’s 48 tackles are tied for fifth in the NFL and he also has a sack and a forced fumble from the outside linebacker position. His knack to shoot gaps and blow-up plays and instinct to sniff out the ball carrier to generate stops put him on pace to finish the season with nearly 100 tackles.
Swiss Army Knife
He’s doing just about everything the Falcons need him to do, catching touchdown passes, running the ball at a decent rate, and doing what he does best, returning kicks and punts. He has run for 173 yards and a touchdown. But the former wide receiver has also caught 31 passes for 295 yards and four touchdowns. Following the first five games, Patterson is on pace to finish the season with almost 1,000 yards receiving and 500 yards rushing.
Five Game MVP
It’s only right their Pro Bowl kicker receives the MVP after still not missing an extra point or field goal through the first five games. While the second-longest kick he had this season was only from 40 yards, he attempted the kick in the waning seconds of a tie game to give the Falcons their first win. Koo’s accuracy is on point and arguably the most reliable component of this team.
With 12 games left to play, the Falcons’ secondary needs to step up for this team to kick it up a notch and begin the transition from a bad team to an average team. The strongest aspect of this team has been their passing game and their special teams, but the passing game has been average at best. Depending on how this season goes, the rest of the year could determine the future of Matt Ryan’s tenure in Atlanta, considering poor offensive line play, lack of mobility and age.