The Atlanta Falcons opened up the 2021 NFL season with two main questions: will the offensive line improve and will the defensive line get any kind of pass rush? In the game that featured two coaches making their head coaching debuts, the Falcons suffered a lopsided 32-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, those questions remain as the Falcons failed to play sound complimentary football. Here are the five things we learned after the game.

1) The Falcons offensive line still has issues

Quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked three times on the day, twice by Eagles defensive tackle Javon Hargrave and once by Hassan Ridgeway. What’s telling is the left guard, rookie Jalen Mayfield, was abused all afternoon by the Eagles’ defensive line. Moreover, Ryan was hit ten times today. While Falcons fans quibble over GM Terry Fontenot’s decision to draft Kyle Pitts over Justin Fields, it would not have mattered because the offensive line played poorly.

2) Falcons were shut down after failing to score in the red zone

In Atlanta’s first two possessions, the Falcons amassed 146 yards on 29 plays and came away with six points. Falcons head coach and play caller, Arthur Smith, started fast. Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson gashed the Eagles on the ground, but were unable to cash it in after reaching the Red Zone. After the first two offensive drives, the Falcons were held to 114 net offensive yards the rest of the game. Even more damning, the Falcons ran for 86 yards in the first quarter and ran for 38 yards in the following three quarters.

3) Nick Sirianni got Jalen Hurts involved from the outset

Jalen Hurts went 27-of-35 for 267 yards and threw three touchdown passes. Hurts looked comfortable as new Philadelphia head coach, Nick Sirianni, got Hurts out on the perimeter, spreading the ball around, and even taking off as the Falcons’ pass rush attempted to get home. Hurts also ran for 62 yards on the day. Sirianni was red-hot calling plays today. He and Hurts got into a rhythm and was able to dictate tempo, moving the offensive line, dominating the line of scrimmage and everything the Eagles wanted, was available to them.

4) The Falcons defensive line got manhandled by the Eagles

Another question Atlanta had was who will step up and take the load off of Grady Jarrett on the defensive front. Well, nobody stepped up. The Eagles ran for 173 yards on 31 carries, averaging 5.6 yards per rush. It was a clinic. Miles Sanders averaged nearly five yards per carry as the Eagles offensive line dominated the Falcons’ defensive line. Jacob Tuioti-Mariner tallied the only sack for Atlanta today and Hurts was just hit once all afternoon.

5) Penalties destroyed the Falcons’ chances all afternoon

Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said he was not pleased about them shooting themselves in the foot with penalties like the illegal formation on the 2-yard line in the first quater. Overall, the Falcons committed twelve penalties and lost 99 yards. Most times, those penalties took the Falcons out of advantageous field position thus creating third-and-long situations. Atlanta was 3-of-12 on third down this afternoon.

Looking ahead, the Falcons face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. The prospects of any offensive line improvement by Atlanta appear bleak as they’ll face a Bucs’ front that features Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) breaks out of the pocket against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...