This past Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons faced off against the New Orleans Saints in their first regular season game of the 2022 NFL season. It was the first time the Falcons took the field with a new starting QB in over a decade, so no one knew what to expect. Many people, including some Falcons fans, felt like the Saints were just going to come in and beat the brakes off of Atlanta but that certainly wasn’t the case. In fact, it was the other way around for the first three quarters as the Falcons put up 26 points and held New Orleans to just 10 points. Unfortunately, the Saints did eventually come back and win the game 27-26. Although Atlanta blew a double-digit lead yet again, there are a lot of positive things to take away from this game if you’re a Falcons fan.
The first positive thing to take away from the game is the improvement of the offensive line. Last season this offensive line gave up a ton of sacks and they weren’t really effective in the run game. This season they’re already showing massive signs of improvement as they allowed zero sacks against a tough Saints defensive line. Their run blocking also looked significantly better as they were able to create some big holes for Cordarrelle Patterson to run through. Thanks to his offensive line, Patterson finished the game with 120 rushing yards and a touchdown. With this performance he became the first player to rush for over 100 yards against the Saints in 20 games. That’s huge. Without the stellar play of his offensive line this wouldn’t even be possible, so kudos to them.
Something else to takeaway is the efficiency of Marcus Mariota. His ability to make plays with his legs is definitely something this Falcons team has been missing. Mariota’s mobility allows him to be able to escape the pocket if needed and extend plays down the field by either scrambling or finding an open receiver on the run. It certainly showed up in week one as he finished the game with 72 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown.
Lastly, another positive takeaway is the aggressiveness of the defense. Atlanta’s new defensive coordinator Dean Pees has been preaching all offseason on how he believes this Falcons defense will be completely different than last year. After Sunday’s performance, they’re certainly already on the right track. Atlanta’s defense was able to get pressure on Jameis Winston on most of his drop-backs and even came away with 4 big time sacks. Which was the most sacks they’ve had in a single game since the 2020 season. Last season this defense struggled to get pressure on the QB, so for them to have 4 sacks in the first game of the season is a big step in the right direction.
If the Falcons can continue to play like this, don’t be surprised when the W’s start to stack up in the win column.
Article Written by KJ Cainion
Hey my name is K.J. Cainion. I’m a new intern with MTMV Sports and I’m excited to be covering all Atlanta Sports this fall!