Three quick impressions from the Atlanta Falcons 38-25 opening day loss to the Seattle Seahawks:
The Falcons defense got to Russell Wilson, then couldn’t keep up with the Seahawks’ adjustments
On the first defensive snap of the season, defensive end Takk McKinley sacked Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson for a nine-yard loss. However, on the next two plays, Atlanta’s defense allowed Seattle to gain 24 yards, and ultimately, they scored a touchdown on their opening drive. McKinley’s effort coupled with Dante Fowler and Grady Jarrett’s play, was outstanding today. Between the three of them, they sacked Russell Wilson three times. However, the Seahawks recognized Atlanta was getting home and decided it was time to roll Wilson out and extend plays to the perimeter of the pocket. In the second half, the Falcons pass rush was largely negated, even though Seattle had three new starters on their offensive line.
“I don’t know if there was necessarily an adjustment,” Quinn explained. “There was some, you know, chip that took on, but that’s pretty normal for that space. When he can get outside the pocket, I thought we had some other chances to sack him later, but he did escape on a few. So I thought early on, having those two was a good start. But there wasn’t too many specific things other than some normal chips that you would expect.”
“When the score gets a little hobbled some opportunities to rush do not come,” explained Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett. “They might go to the run game or play action. They make adjustments too. We need to continue to rush up front. We were able to rush a couple of bad passes in the second half too, so it was not a total fail. We definitely need to rush. If you play in the NFL, they are going to make adjustments. We have to keep hunting and make our adjustments too.”
The Falcons run game actually worked early
Running back Todd Gurley returned to the state of Georgia, rocking the red and black of the Falcons, and was productive. The offensive line opened holes as Gurley ran for 51 yards on ten carries in the first half. He finished the game with 54 rushing yards as the Falcons were playing catch-up in the second half. Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter would get pass-happy and forget about the running game that worked for the Falcons’ offense. Once the Falcons were down 28-12, they were forced to sling the ball all over the yard. Matt Ryan attempted 54 passes and amassed 450 yards.
“They were doing good,” said running back Todd Gurley. “You know, they were moving Seattle’s defense and getting up to the linebackers. I was able to just press and cut and just do what I do. So credit to those guys. They did a great job of protecting Matt [Ryan] today. You know, o-line never gets talked about. That’s just how it is from football but they did their thing. They held their own. We took what the defense gave us and tried to apply pressure off of that.”
The fourth-down attempts flipped the field… and the game.
Atlanta did not convert any of its four fourth-down attempts, and those misses turned into 24 points for the Seahawks.
“We certainly wanted to be and knowing that with the group that we have we’re going to continue to do that,” Quinn said. “Some are execution ones, some to say, ‘Hey, you’d like to have a different call in those spaces.’ But, against a good quarterback, you want to be bold, you want to stay aggressive.”
Those failed fourth downs also impacted the way the Falcons could approach the game. Atlanta made a noticeable commitment to running the ball in the first half, and it was allowing them to sustain drives and keep the game close.
“Not the way we wanted to come out and start, It was good to see us go out and fight the whole time, but it was not the way we ever envisioned coming out. We got to go back and look at the film on this one and get back to the basics. It was good to see us fighting the whole time, but I am not trying to do this again all year.”
Honorable mention: Jamal Adams was everywhere
Jamal Adams was set free by the Seattle Seahawks and he immediately showed everyone why he’s the best safety in the NFL. While the Seahawks typically play a cover three defense, and will not say this is the reincarnation of the Legion of Boom; Adams had twelve tackles and one sack. The safety also had two tackles for loss. Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said Adams was out there freelancing. Well, not really.
“There’s no doubt. There’s no doubt,” said Carroll. He is such an energetic just personality. He’s got so much fire in him. He’s an incredible competitor. Does it rub off? Yes. And I’m so thrilled he’s on our team and we got him as much not just for the play but what you brings and how he affects other people and he’ll continue to do that. I thought during the day, when we go back home, our fans won’t be able to see it in the stadium early in the year, and I wish they could, because a lot that goes on that’s happening off the play field and off the sidelines and cheering up guys. This game now with nobody in the stands, really does call on us to really maintain the juice and the energy, and he’s a wonderful player to exemplify that.”
Adams spoke about the energy putting on the Seahawks uniform for the first time.
“It was fun, a lot of juice, a lot of energy,” said Adams. “A lot of ups and downs. I thought we played really well but we had a lot of mistakes, I’m speaking for the defensive side, that we can definitely get better on and to where we can be even more dominate. So that’s the good thing about this game. Obviously, it is week one so there’s a lot of mistakes that we can clean up. I think that the most important thing is that we got the win and that’s what matters.”