Through roughly the first third of the season, the Atlanta Falcons have surprised everyone with their play on the field. Through the first-five weeks of football, the Falcons sit with a 2-3 record. Now while that doesn’t sound impressive, coming into the season some people predicted the Falcons to win two games all season.
The Falcons (2-3) are a much better team than the record shows.
Throughout the first five weeks, every game the Falcons have played has been a one-score game. Their three losses were to the Saints, Rams, and Buccaneers. While you hate to see them lose to division and conference rivals, each one of those games was decided by one possession. While this might sound ridiculous, the Falcons could realistically be 5-0 right now.
On the flip side, they could also be 0-5 with such fine margins in the NFL.
The offense has been the most surprising part of the season so far. Led by quarterback Marcus Mariota, the rushing ability of Cordarrelle Patterson, and the pass catching of Drake London, Kyle Pitts and company, this offense has been able to drive on opponents and can consistently put up points.
As a unit they average 331.4 yards of total offense with 166.8 passing yards per game and 164.6 rushing yards per game. Their 23.6-points per game makes them a top-10 offense.
The defense, although it hasn’t put up the best numbers, hasn’t been terrible. Led by the talented secondary of A.J. Terrell, Casey Hayward, and Richie Grant, the run stopping and pass rushing of Grady Jarrett, Arnold Ebiketie, and Ta’Quon Graham, and the gap filling and run stopping of linebacker Mykal Walker, Rashaan Evans, and Troy Anderson, this unit has been a bend but don’t break type of unit.
As a group they’ve given up a completion percentage of 68.7% while giving up an average of 6.9 yards per play. The pass rush has been solid, totaling eight sacks so far. They’ve also been able to generate a good amount of turnovers with three forced fumbles and four interceptions.
ATLANTA FALCONS EARLY-SEASON AWARDS
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE “YEAR”: Cordarrelle Patterson
Throughout the first third of the season, Patterson has been the focal point of this Atlanta offense, in both the running and passing game. Through the first-four games, Patterson has rushed the ball 58 times for 340 yards for an average of 5.9 yards per carry and three touchdowns. He’s also hauled in four catches for 28 yards.
Without Patterson this offense would be nowhere near the level that it is at. Patterson has been the man that Arthur Smith leans on when a big play is needed. Patterson illustrates the feel of this team; gritty underdogs that just want to prove people wrong.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE “YEAR”: Grady Jarrett
Jarrett through the first 5 games has been one of the best defensive lineman in the NFL. Through the first third of the season, Jarrett has recorded 19 total tackles with 3.5 sacks (and one bogus roughing call on a sack), he has also totaled 2 stuffs. Jarrett has been wreaking havoc on opposing offensive lines and is the main reason this Falcons defense has been able to generate any pressure.
ROOKIE OF THE “YEAR”: Drake London
After selecting London with the 8th pick in the 2022 NFL draft, questions arose whether or not London was the right pick for the Falcons, and throughout the first third of the season London has proved that he was. Through the first five games, London has hauled in 22 catches for 266 yards and two touchdowns.
London has been the main pass catcher for this offense and has looked very impressive to start off his career, Atlanta may have found their future wide receiver one.
STANDOUT PLAYER OF THE “YEAR”: Kaleb McGary
Coming into the season, McGary was looked at as a liability. He had been at best average through his previous three seasons and was not seen as a long term piece for the Falcons. But through the first third of the season McGary has been very impressive.
So far this season McGary has only given up one sack and has only been penalized once. PFF has a grade of 71.9 for McGary, which is astronomically better than his previous years and good for the No. 20 offensive tackle in the NFL (left or right).
A free agent after the season, if McGary can continue to play like this, he’ll definitely be at the top of Atlanta’s priorities in the offseason.
MVP: The Offensive Line
The offensive line has been the brightest spot on this entire roster to start the season. Throughout the first-five games, they have given up a total of 12 sacks. While this may seem like a lot, it is exponentially better than last season.
According to Football Outsiders, the Falcons offensive line is a top 10 unit, ranking at number eight. The offensive line has also been a main reason the run game has been so good. The Falcons are one of the league’s top rushing offenses, and it is because of the emergence of this offensive line.
Overall the Falcons have had a very impressive season so far and fans should be excited to watch this team play.