Packers vs. Falcons: 5 Stats to know from Atlanta’s Week 1 performance

Sep 10, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) in action against the Carolina Panthers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 10, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) in action against the Carolina Panthers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

The Green Bay Packers are back on the road for their Week 2 matchup with the Atlanta Falcons, who are also coming off an opening day victory. Overall, this is a physical Falcons team that leans heavily on their running backs and from front to back, plays quite aggressively on defense.

To help get somewhat familiar with a somewhat uncommon NFC opponent, here are five stats that you need to know about Atlanta from their Week 1 performance against Carolina.

The Falcons want to run the ball

Running backs Tyler Allgeier and Bijan Robinson combined for 25 carries against Carolina. Allegeier averaged 5.0 yards per attempt with two scores, while Robinson averaged 5.6. Earlier in the week, Matt LaFleur mentioned how difficult both backs can be to bring down and we saw that on display in Week 1. Allgeier’s five missed tackles forced were the second most among running backs, while both players ranked in the top 15 in average yards after contact.

Along with having to worry about Allgeier and Robinson, it looks like the Falcons will have Cordarrelle Patterson back in the mix as well, after he missed Week 1 with an injury. Last season, Patterson averaged 4.8 yards per rush and throughout his career has proven to be difficult to bring down.

"“All three of their backs are really dynamic and all of them can take it to the house,” said run game coordinator Jerry Montgomery. “It’s the scheme that they run. Those guys, they press the line of scrimmage and get you running and they’ll cut it back and get downhill. Whether it’s 7, 25 or 84, all three of those guys can take it to the house. It’s definitely going to be a challenge. So we will have our hands full all day.”"

Desmond Ridder and the quick passing game

The Atlanta offense utilized the quick passing game often in Week 1. With the Falcons relying so heavily on the run game, Desmond Ridder had only 18 pass attempts against Carolina, which were the fewest among eligible quarterbacks. On those 18 pass attempts, six went to running back Bijan Robinson, and Ridder rarely pushed the ball downfield, with only four of his throws traveling at least 10 air yards and only one going beyond 20 yards. Ridder’s average time to throw of 2.63 seconds was the ninth-quickest rate in Week 1.

Although the Falcons have two big downfield threats in Kyle Pitts and Drake London, at least through one game, there wasn’t much of a willingness on Ridders’ part to get them the ball in that capacity. The duo had just four targets and two receptions, both of which belonged to Pitts. However, in order to throw downfield, time in the pocket is also required and Ridder was sacked six times by the Panthers.

Atlanta defense (Jessie Bates) forces 3 turnovers

The Falcons’ defense dominated the turnover differential against Carolina, coming away with three takeaways, all of which were created by safety Jessie Bates. Two came via interceptions and the other on a fumble.

"“Jessie is a really good safety for them,” said Jordan Love on Wednesday. “He’s a ball hawk. The numbers he had last week, the two interceptions, the forced fumble. So he’s a ball hawk. He’s a really good player. He’s a very instinctual player. He plays on the quarterback’s eyes and that’s how he makes plays. Definitely a guy we have to be looking out for and know where he’s at at all times.”"

Overall, this is an Atlanta secondary that plays very aggressively as LaFleur has pointed out this week. The cornerbacks will challenge the receivers at the line of scrimmage, and the unit as a whole uses a lot of mixing and matching of personnel and late movement to cause confusion for the opposing quarterback.

Falcons defensive front generated a lot of pressures

According to PFF, the Falcons defense generated 28 pressures in Week 1, which was the sixth highest total out of any team. On nearly 50 percent of Bryce Young’s dropbacks, he found himself under pressure. Against the run, this unit also ranked 10th in ESPN’s run-stop win rate and had the 12th highest run defense grade from PFF. Led by interior defender Grady Jarrett, this is a veteran group that the Falcons have along the defensive front, and will present challenges in both the run and passing games. Jarrett is joined by Calais Campbell and David Oneymata.

"“Atlanta has an excellent defense,” said offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich on Thursday. “Their defensive line is very good. Calais Campbell, Grady Jarrett, Oneymata, all those guys are really, really physical, established players in this league.”So it’s going to be a huge challenge for us,” added Stenavich, “basically across the board. We just got to keep doing a great job of communicating. Keep doing a great job of executing and just making sure that when we get the opportunities to make plays we do.”"

Situational football

Where Atlanta was really efficient was in the red zone, converting all three of their trips into touchdowns. However, where they struggled was on third downs, moving the chains on only two of their 10 attempts. With a heavy reliance on the run and quick passing games, converting third-and-longs, in particular, can be challenging. Atlanta was also called for six penalties but did not have any turnovers. In fact, in Ridder’s five career starts, he is yet to throw an interception.

"“He makes great decisions,” said LaFleur about Ridder. :He doesn’t put the ball in jeopardy a whole bunch and he’s got some dudes on the perimeter. I think he’s accurate, he makes great decisions. I think they do a great job of putting him in some pretty good situations, especially with a lot of their passing game coming off the run game. They use that run to set up the pass.”"