MINNEAPOLIS — I’ll be back shortly with a column on the Falcons’ 41-28 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Until then, here are my three “Short Takes” on the game.
UPDATE: Here’s a link to the column.
1. DEFENSE! (NOT); DEFENSE! (NOT): Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was making his first NFL start. He had tougher days at Louisville. He threw for 317 yards before leaving with an ankle injury. The Vikings drove 73, 53, 61, 80, 84 and 43 yards on their first six possessions for three touchdowns, two field goals and a missed field goal, as well as having one TD called back. They finished with over 500 yards in offense. The Falcons’ defense struggled to cover crossing routes. After recording three sacks against Tampa Bay, it also reverted to not being able to put any pressure on the quarterback and the line got punctured for big running plays over the middle. Summation: Disaster.
2. WHERE’S THE BEEF? The pass rush was expected to be a problem this season but the run defense was supposed to be significantly improved after the acquisitions of Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliai. But Vikings rookie Jerick McKinnon, who’s from Sprayberry and Georgia Southern, broke open for a 55-yard run, Bridgewater had a 13-yard TD run. The Falcons allowed 154 rushing yards in the first half alone and over 200 in the game. Imagine if Minnesota had, you know, Adrian Peterson?
3. O-LINE ISSUES REVISITED: Matt Ryan often ran for his life behind an offensive line that lost somewhat-able bodies at every turn. Three starters were lost during the game: left guard Justin Blalock (back), center Joe Hawley (knee, carted off and looked to be season-threatening) and right tackle Lamar Holmes (foot). With tackle Baker lost for the year in the preseason, the Falcons were left with a starting line of (left to right) Jake Matthews, Gabe Carimi, Peter Konz, Jon Asamoah and Levine Toilolo (a tight end playing right tackle). For a team that is going to need to out-wow opposing offenses to win games this season, this is the worst possible news for Ryan and the offense.