The Atlanta Falcons West Coast Trip is Over, What Did We Learn?

The Atlanta Falcons west coast trip has come to an end, and the team went 1-1 on their trip. Back-to-back west coast games are notoriously tough on east coast teams, but Atlanta showed a lot of resolve. It’s still early in the year, but we’ve learned a lot about the team since their deflating Week 1 loss. I was able to attend both games and came away with a few thoughts after watching the team up close.

Drake London smiling after scoring his 2nd Touchdown of his career.
Photo Credit: Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons

Drake London is the real deal

Whether you think it’s fair or not, top 10 picks in the NFL Draft come with instant impact expectations. Well, Drake London met all of them on this Atlanta Falcons west coast trip. The rookie wide receiver had 50+ yards and a touchdown in each game, finishing with 140 yards for the entire trip. The game looks easy for Drake, and watching him from the stands I can see why. The kid is built like a freak and fits right in with Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson. London was known as a physical WR coming out of USC, and he shows it on this TD against Seattle.

The Defensive culture still hasn’t changed

Dean Pees’s now infamous rant about changing the culture of Atlanta’s defense hasn’t aged well. After a four sack game on opening weekend, the team had a combined total of three over this trip. Furthermore, the defense is giving up 27 points per game, 4.8 yards per rush, and is 27th in passing yards allowed per game at 271.3. There have, of course, been bright spots, like the play of Mykal Walker, but not enough to give fans confidence that change is finally here.

Hello run game, its been a while

The Falcons are running the ball with success at a rate we haven’t seen for some time. The team is averaging 156.7 rushing yards per game on the season, fifth-best in the NFL. The Atlanta Falcons west coast trip revealed what many Falcons fans already believed: Cordarrelle Patterson IS HIM. Hurdling would-be tacklers and trucking their teammates immediately afterwards is how you win the hearts of fans.

It’s not just the highlight plays either. Patterson has done a great job of picking up tough yardage in key down-and-distance situations, like the play below against the Rams. This helped set up the touchdown that ignited the team’s comeback.

This team has resolve

This Atlanta Falcons west coast trip could’ve easily ended in a 0-2 effort. After the first three quarters of the Rams game, it looked like the team was headed for 0-17. I can tell you personally that being in SoFi Stadium when the scoreboard read 28-3 felt like the seven levels of hell. Rams fans took advantage and tormented us fans in the stadium. But then, something amazing happened — the Falcons came back.

What the team showed in the final quarter of that game was something fans needed to see. After an inept start on both sides of the ball, the team started putting together successful plays, giving themselves a chance to win in the final moment. From the stands, the energy on the sideline never wavered and felt like this team truly believed in themselves.

That’s what matters most. It felt like they carried that fight into the Seattle game where they faced an opponent that also wasn’t going to go down without a fight.

Falcons fans, take a bow

It’s not easy being a Falcons fan in any scenario, but being one at an opposing team’s stadium feels like being the clown at a kids party. Jokes are hurled at you constantly, and people genuinely find the idea of cheering for the Dirty Birds hilarious.

There really isn’t much respect for the team outside of Atlanta, but that didn’t stop fans from showing up. Fans represented well and were cheering their hearts out at both games. So often Atlanta fans are forced to take the brunt of the jokes their teams create and still consistently fight. As an attending fan, I have to say this Atlanta Falcons west coast trip was worth the price of admission.

What’s next?

The team is 1-2 and faces a tough Cleveland defense and run game next week. The Falcons are coming off their most complete game of the year, and I expect that momentum to carry over. I’m not sure what the result of the game will be, but I can confidently say they will fight until the final play.

Atlanta Falcons Preseason Week 1: Rookie Ridder, Game Winner

The Atlanta Falcons preseason started with a surprisingly fun game that featured some late-game heroics from the future star under center.

Photo Credit: Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons

Football is Back (somewhat)

I sat through the entire Atlanta Falcons’ 27-23 preseason win over the Lions (by choice) so you didn’t have to, which means, the NFL is back…kind of.

It’s only the NFL preseason; these games are meaningless on the surface, but still fans can’t help but get excited by what they see. Falcons fans are cheering after watching their new potential franchise QB Desmond Ridder put together a game-winning drive in his first NFL game.

The team witnessed a few standout players tonight, for better and for worse. Reminder, it’s only preseason and everything is written in sand, but football is back and there’s finally Falcons football to discuss.

Defense

LB Rashaan Evans showed early why he’s locked down the starting iLB position. He was running sideline to sideline and finishing tackles. You could see he was very comfortable in Dean Pees’s scheme. Coverage still needs improvement but for only a short outing, Evans impressed.

Rookie EDGE Arnold Ebiketie had some first day jitters on the opening drives, where he lost contain of the run multiple times. However, AK settled in nicely and generated pressure on multiple pass plays, something Falcons fans have been begging for. The rookie drew a hold that most likely would’ve lead to a sack and also recorded a QB hit.

DB Dee Alford was another young defender that stood out tonight. He hauled in an interception, led the team in tackles and had serviceable coverage throughout the game. He looks like he could be a depth piece for a secondary with high expectations for itself in 2022.

DB Mike Ford stood out for the wrong reasons. He played early in the game and was consistently beaten in coverage until the Lions got deeper into their reserves. This is disappointing since his name is one we’ve been hearing a lot this training camp.

Offense

QB Marcus Mariota looked the part of the calm veteran. He immediately answered the Lions opening drive touchdown with one of his own. He led the offense down the field, mostly with his legs, before capping off the drive with a diving pylon touchdown.

TE Felipe Franks didn’t live up to the hype. Franks was one of the players I was most excited to see after his recent position change and training camp stardom. The new TE recorded one big drop and a five-yard reception, underwhelming to say the least. The Felipe Franks experiment is still in its early stages.

QB Desmond Ridder stole the show today. He got more playtime than anyone and took full advantage of it. Ridder wasn’t necessarily lights out in the game, (10/22), but he showed poise in the pocket. The only negatives? An interception called back thanks to a questionable roughing the passer call and a dropped interception later in the second half. The rookie QB also had to deal with quite a few drops from his WR corps.

Still, he showed why the Falcons front office believe in his potential. Ridder showed poise in the pocket, made plays with his feet, and displayed he could run the offense how Arthur Smith envisions. All of these abilities were on display when he lead the team on a game winning drive under two minutes after a Timmy Horne fumble recovery.

What’s this all mean?

Absolutely nothing. The preseason is less of a preview and more of a dress rehearsal, especially Week 1. Take the highs and lows as they come and don’t let them ruin your week. It’s good to see your team look competent and fun, but its also good for them to get plenty of mistakes out of the way as well. There’s still a ways to go before the season begins, but it is nice starting off with a win.

Let us know your thoughts about the Falcons first preseason game on Twitter @falcons_atb.