Another day, another Falcons player headed to the Injured Reserve. Ricardo Allen sustained a season ending achilles injury in the New Orleans Saints shootout. To make matters worse, the Falcons also lost the ball game. Matt Ryan passed for a career high five touchdowns and posted the highest passer rating (141.8) in NFL history in a loss. The offense was firing on all cylinders and rookie Calvin Ridley found the end zone three times. There was a lot to be happy about on the offensive side of the ball, but the defense will continue to be an issue with all the injuries. Let’s take a look at what you need to know ahead of the Falcons vs Bengals game.
Dating back to 1940 NFL teams scoring 37+ points at home with 0 turnovers were 386-0. The Falcons are the second team this year to accomplish this not so good feat. The Steelers were the first to do it in week 2. While Atlanta’s offense was soaring high against the Saints, their defense had 17 missed tackles, tied for the most in Week 3.
Not only are they playing undisciplined, but they are putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks on just 26.5% of drop backs. Ranking 27th in the league in that category. With so many key players out on defense it is hard to expect a lot from the team until players get acclimated with their new roles. The defensive line has to start getting to the quarterback more. It appears Takkarist McKinley will hopefully be back this week. Getting McKinley back will be huge for the defense as he is currently Atlanta’s best edge rusher.
Ryan honestly couldn’t have played a much better game against the Saints. The Falcons were once again perfect in the red zone going 4-4. Atlanta’s offense looked awful in Week 1 against the Eagles. Ryan looked terrible missing receivers left and right. Since then Ryan has put on a clinic and shown that Week 1 was a fluke. Calvin Ridley was held without a single catch in Week 1, but since then he has been lighting it up. In weeks 2 and 3 Ridley has caught 11 passes for 210 yards with 4 touchdowns. The offense is not the issue for Atlanta. The defense desperately needs players to step up. Will the offense be enough in the meantime while the defense tries to find their new identity?
Since Ryan entered the league in 2008 he is tied with Matthew Stafford for most 4th quarter comebacks at 26, which is 11th most all-time. While this is an impressive stat the Falcons are also 2nd in blown 4th quarter leads with 8, since 2016. Two of those losses coming from this season.
Atlanta’s defense looked like it could be a top unit heading into the season on paper. There are a lot of guys that need to have the next man up mentality and really tackle their new role head on. When Ryan led teams allow 18 points or less the Falcons have a 51-9 record. Three of those losses have come since 12/3/2017. If the defense can get it together and the players can step into their new roles and own it Atlanta has the offense to make a deep. Deion Jones will be back prior to the playoffs adding a much needed boost on the defensive front.
While heading into Week 4 with a record at 1-2 isn’t ideal, the Falcons main concern in Week 1 was their offense. Now their offense is humming, a perfect 8-8 in the red zone since going 1-5 week 1. Atlanta needs to play more disciplined ball on the defensive spectrum. Having 17 missed tackles cannot happen again if they want to be successful. Atlanta looks to bounce back this week as the Cincinnati Bengals come to town.