23-17. This certainly wasn’t the score that I was expecting. I don’t think many Falcons fans were. On the road.. in a hostile environment at Soldier Field… The Chicago Bears gave the Atlanta Falcons their best shot. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t see that coming.
On the first drive The Falcons marched down the field. Trying to get their run game going.. The Bears defense held them to 3 points. The 43 year old kicker Matt Bryant- one of the best kickers in the game, was solid the whole game. And he helped us put our first points on the board. At the time it seemed no big deal. We’ll take the 3 points here and score on the next drive. But those 3 points proved to be crucial to our win today. In the following drive for The Falcons offense- it seemed as if the Chicago Bears wanted to let The Falcons know they’ve got something to prove. They stopped us and forced us to punt.
Defense was definitely the theme of the day. The Bears had a decent game plan on how they were going to stop The Falcons high powered offense. They capitalized on the limited NFL play calling experience and “on the job training” of new Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. But Dan Quinn has an eye for talent and knows exactly who and what he wants for this Atlanta Falcons team. And I trust him. Sarkisian and Quinn share some familiarity with play calling and schemes and a mentor in Pete Carroll.
Falcons offense seemed a bit off and started slow. Running the ball a lot more than what we were used to seeing. A few dropped passes by Coleman, Julio not being as involved with the routes had a lot of fans wondering… about how this new offensive coordinator was going to fit into our plans. Matt Ryan hit Julio Jones on a corner route and later showed his mobility and catching Chicago Bears off guard by running with the ball to get closer to end zone. From there, Devonta Freeman runs to the corner, breaking tackles and rush to pile on to score the first touchdown of the game.
Tarik Cohan, the speedy rookie for Chicago Bears had a good day on the ground against the Falcons with 5 carries and 66 yards averaging 13.2 yards per carry. His efforts would prove to be not enough to secure the win for the Bears though. Quarterback Mike Glennon also was a little more than advertised. The Falcons were having a difficult time stopping the run (penalties and missed tackles). Cohan and Howard of The Bears set up for The Wildcat and scored touchdown right before the half.
Coming back from the half, not much changed. Akiem Hicks would sack Matt Ryan giving the Bears all the momentum they needed to have a great second half and close out the game with a win a home. A few plays later the Falcons found themselves pent down in the backfield and did what Matt Ryan does best. Back against the wall, he took the offense in his hands and put it on his back. The mark of a true leader.. MVP caliber if you will. He hit Austin Hooper for an 88 yard touchdown. Breathing room and a much needed “deep ball” that we were all waiting to see. And expecting to see Julio Jones catching it. But it was Hooper with the much needed big play. Chicago wasn’t going down without a fight. They managed the clock well and marched right back down the field. Using their last time out at 26 seconds (a huge mistake in my mind)… a few failed attempts in the red zone and The Falcons defense came up big. Brooks Reid had the game clinching sack for the Falcons.
All in all… it wasn’t the best performance from our Atlanta Falcons.. but still a win, is a win, is a win. A few of my takeaways:
Matt Ryan had a solid day with 321 yards and 1 passing touch down.
Austin Hooper is a beast.. let’s get him involved more. Especially because teams mainly game plan and scheme to take away Julio Jones.
Our defense is fast.. very fast. And they hit hard.. very hard. We still need to work on fundamentals like wrapping all the way up and not missing tackles.
Our defensive line has a deep rotation and will prove to be an asset on down the road.
We MUST, we MUST be patient with Sarkisian. Commentators were saying it’ll take about 5 or 6 games for him to get his “groove” and comfortability. Personally I don’t think this will be the case. Matt Ryan and Dan Quinn are going to do everything to make sure the Falcons offense is clicking on all cylinders.
First game jitters are hopefully out of the way because well.. next up is Mr. Rodgers. And he’s not so happy with us.