Positives and negatives from Falcons’ Week 1 loss to Saints

·3 min read

The Falcons opened the 2022 season in disappointing fashion after blowing a 16-point lead to their biggest rivals. Even though few people predicted the team to defeat the Saints in Week 1, the Falcons thoroughly outplayed them for the first three quarters, making Sunday’s loss that much more frustrating.

It wasn’t all bad, though. Here’s a look at some positives and negatives from Week 1.

Positive: Run game

(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

It’s not rare for Cordarrelle Patterson to carry the Falcons offense, but to do so in the manner he did on the ground was truly a welcome surprise. He rushed for 120 yards, which is just the third 100-yard game of his career. Atlanta’s dominant rushing attack early on set the tone for the game until that dreaded fourth quarter. Marcus Mariota added 72 more yards on the ground.

Negative: Fumbles

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Mariota fumbled twice against the Saints, and both fumbles came at critical points in the game. Coming off a massive momentum swing after forcing a fumble on James Winston, Mariota tried to do too much and had the ball punched out near the goal line. He recovered his second fumble, but the loss of yards forced a punt and led to the Saints’ game-winning field goal. Wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus had the other fumble.

Positive: Pass-rush improvement

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The most promising aspect of Sunday’s game came from the Falcons pass rush. Early on, they got to James Winston on numerous occasions, totaling four sacks and a forced fumble. Four sacks would equate to 24 percent of the team’s total sacks a season ago. If the defensive line can keep this up, it will go a long way in helping the team be more competitive this season. Getting pressure on Rams QB Matthew Stafford will be key in Week 2.

Negative: Conservative late-game defense

(AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)

The team’s defense is still having an issue closing out games. On Sunday, the unit got too conservative in the later stages of the game when Atlanta had a double-digit lead. Playing soft zones allowed the Saints to steal the momentum back from the Falcons. Even star cornerback A.J. Terrell got bullied by Michael Thomas, who hasn’t seen real action since the 2020 season. While the defense was very good early on, it fell well short of expectations late in the game.

Negative: Red zone woes continue

(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The biggest thing that makes Yonghoe Koo a top fantasy football kicker is the amount of opportunities he gets in the red zone. This was an issue last season, and things don’t look much better thus far in 2022. The Falcons had four red zone trips, and ended up with two touchdowns. If the team can better manage its red zone efficiency, this offense does have some potential.

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Story originally appeared on Falcons Wire