If I were to tell you that Matt Ryan has comparable stats to his MVP season through the first four games would you believe the Falcons were 1-3? Atlanta’s offense has been on fire, but the defense will continue to be an issue until they work as a cohesive unit. Calvin Ridley became the first rookie in NFL history to have six touchdown catches through his team’s first four games. However the defensive woes got worse in Week 4. Grady Jarrett sustained an ankle injury that could keep him sidelined multiple games. In a corresponding move Atlanta waived DT Justin Zimmer and signed DT Michael Bennett. They also worked out Kony Ealy and Robert Ayers. The Falcons will look to improve defensively and keep the offense flowing next week as they travel to Heinz Field. Let’s take a look at what you need to know.
Teams starting 1-3 only have a 14% chance of making the playoffs. The last time Atlanta started 1-3 they finished the season 4-12. Only two times has Atlanta made the playoffs after starting 1-3, in 1978 and 2002. Both times Atlanta made it is a wildcard team and they moved on to the divisional round of the playoffs. Through Week 9 of last season Atlanta was 4-4. I have no doubt in my mind that if Atlanta beats the Steelers this week that they can go into the bye with a 4-3 record.
Matt Ryan is the first player in NFL history to lose back-to-back games with 350 pass yards, 3 pass touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Scott Kascmar tweeted that Ryan is also the first quarterback in NFL history to lose back-to-back games with a passer rating over 125 (minimum of 30 attempts). Ryan continues to impress this season as he is putting up comparable stats to his MVP Season. Through the first four games of this year Ryan has only 157 less yards and 1 more touchdown than he did in his 2016 campaign. Ryan looks to continue his hot start against a suspect Pittsburgh Steelers defense this coming week.
The Falcons defense has allowed 51 of their 122 points in the 4thquarter and overtime this season. Dan Quinn vocalized that communication has to be better in his press conference Monday. “We have to close with authority. This 2018 team has to learn how to do that,” Quinn said. The defense has got to start finishing in games. Since 1940, teams scoring 36+ points at home with 0 turnovers are 402-4. The Atlanta Falcons are 0-2 since last week when doing that. Half of the losses are Atlanta now. The offense is getting the job done, now it is time for the defense to help them out.
While seeing the Falcons sit at 1-3 and the Saints are 3-1 makes my stomach turn, I am still optimistic for the remainder of the season. Atlanta can easily turn their season around with consistent play from the defense. Takkarist McKinley leads the league in sack rate at 6.1% and is only .5 behind the league leader in sacks. Getting him back this past week was huge for the defense. Grady Jarrett will miss the upcoming game, but Atlanta should have Devonta Freeman back. Atlanta looks to get back in the win column after suffering two heartbreaking losses in back-to-back weeks.