The Atlanta Falcons were looking to build off their big win against the Eagles, but a poor first half, bad defense, and too many penalties really killed the Falcons in this one. Matt Ryan once again threw a bad interception intended for Luke Stocker in the redzone and the defense did not play well at all. The defense struggled to get pressure on Brissett all game which was somewhat expected given how good the Colts offensive line is, but after stopping the run against the Eagles last week the Falcons struggled stopping Marlon Mack as he rushed for 74 yards and a had touchdown. Colts rushed for 79 yards total but the big runs that Mack had in the time at times hurt the Falcons. Falcons defense also suffered some key injuries during the game. The biggest injury was safety Keanu Neal who was injured on a non-contact play. It was confirmed on Monday that Keanu Neal has a torn achilles and is out for the rest season which is just awful for Neal who worked so hard to come back after suffering a season ending injury last season on opening night against the Eagles. The other two injuries were Takk McKinley who left the game with a knee injury and Grady Jarrett who had a toe injury. Running backs Ito Smith and Kenjon Barner also left the game with a concussion.
As for the Falcons offense, they did bounce back in the second half as Ryan threw three touchdowns one to Julio Jones and two to Austin Hooper. Devonta Freeman also had a good game running the ball as he rushed for a total of 88 yards and had two runs for 20 or more yards. Unfortunately for the offense, they did not get one last chance to try to tie the game up or win it as the defense could not get that final stop that they needed. It also did not help that the offense only scored 3 points in the first half and were down 20-3 at halftime. However, the biggest thing that killed the Falcons on both offense and defense were the 16 penalties that they had. The offense were able to overcome their penalties but the defensive penalties were absolutely back breakers as the Falcons defense had three defensive penalties that kept the drive alive for the Colts.
Overall this was one that the Falcons should of won. Dan Quinn’s defense did not look ready to play and looked like the same defense that everyone in Week 1. The 16 penalties are absolutely inexcusable as that is just a lack of discipline. The slow starts on offense need to change as well and Dirk Koetter needs to play to Matt Ryan’s strength which is up tempo offense. It worked for Ryan when he played at Boston College and worked for him when Shanahan was here. Now as for dealing with the Keanu Neal injury, Falcons need to look at possibly signing Georgia native Eric Berry to replace Neal for this season. On Sunday the Falcons had Kemal Ishmael at safety and he did not play well at all. Head coach Dan Quinn did announce on Monday that they will be holding workouts at safety to try and find someone to help replace Neal. Quinn also stated that he is not moving Damontae Kazee and rookie corner back Kendall Sheffield to help out at safety with Neal out.
There is a lot that needs to be improved on between now and Sunday for the Falcons. They are back at home at the Benz against Tennessee who looked awful against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Thursday. This a must win game for the Falcons because you do not want to be 1-3 going on the road to play Houston. Kickoff against the Titans is at 1:00 PM on CBS. Follow @BirdsInTheBenz on twitter throughout the game and for more updates on the Falcons.
By: Stewart Zwald @SDZwald041599