After reviewing the coaches’ film on gamepass.nfl.com, here are the grades for the Falcons from their 43-37 loss to the New Orleans Saints in overtime Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Run offense: There was no room to run as the Saints loaded the box with eight players and dared the Falcons to throw deep. The Saints did a good job in pursuit. Running back Tevin Coleman may have cut too many runs back inside. There appeared to be a couple of lanes out to the right that he missed. The Falcons rushed for 20 yards on six attempts behind left tackle Jake Matthews, minus 5 yards on two carries behind left guard Wes Schweitzer, 12 yards on two carries behind right guard Brandon Fusco and 6 yards on five carries behind right tackle Ryan Schraeder. They tried to used Calvin Ridley on toss sweeps, too. Devonta Freeman (knee contusion) has to be close to returning. Grade: F
Pass offense: Calvin Ridley was sensational, as he had seven catches for 146 yards and three touchdowns. His 9-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan was a thing of beauty. The rookie receiver ran inside, and when he saw Ryan in trouble, he ran back outside to get open. That was a veteran move. Ryan found him for the score. Julio Jones abused Saints cornerback Ken Crawley on his 58-yard gain in the fourth quarter. He still doesn’t have a touchdown on the season. Ryan was sacked three times. Saints rookie defensive end Marcus Davenport seemed to stun center Alex Mack on a twist inside. Saints defensive end Cam Jordan, who wrecked the Falcons’ final drive in regulation, had two sacks. One was a cheapie, and he beat Schraeder on the other one. On the final drive of regulation, Jordan flushed Ryan out to his right on second-and-9. On third down, Coleman set up to help Schraeder with Jordan, but the Saints blitzed linebacker A.J. Klein through the “A” gap and Coleman couldn’t make it back over to him. On fourth-and-4 with 25 seconds left the Falcons had to punt and then hope to win the coin toss. Grade: B-plus
Run defense: The Saints entered the game last in the league in rushing at 52.5 yards per game. With the help of backup quarterback Taysom Hill and a reverse to wide receiver Ted Ginn, the Saints rushed for 143 yards against the Falcons’ defense. The Falcons made Saints running back Alvin Kamara earn his 66 yards on 16 carries, but Hill got loose for 35 and Ginn had a 20-yard run. Vic Beasley had one of the 16 missed tackles on Hill’s run. Linebacker Duke Riley got pinned inside by a double team and free safety Damontae Kazee missed on a low arm tackle attempt. Poole, who had a horrible game, didn’t run full speed when Ginn went in motion for the second time. He went across the formation and then back to receive the ball at full speed on a nicely designed play. “I expect some of those missed tackles in the first game,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “I do not expect them in the third game.” Grade: F
Pass defense: The Falcons’ plan was to keep the Saints in front of them and then rally up and make tackles. They tried to confuse Brees and only sent three players at dropped tackles Jack Crawford and Grady Jarrett into coverage at times. With Brees getting the ball off so quickly, it was hard for the pass rush to get him off his mark. Beasley had one sack, but Saints tackle Ryan Ramcyzk was looking for a false-start flag. The defensive unit suffered a big blow with free safety Ricardo Allen went down in overtime. He was backpedaling and when he started to run forward, he fell down and was reaching for his left foot at the 44-yard line. The Saints scored touchdowns on their last four possessions. The drive with 6:52 left after the Falcons took a 37-30 lead was just too easy. Brees surgicially cut the defense up with short and accurate passes. Grade D-minus
Special teams: Rookie Foye Oluokun was beaten to his outside shoulder by Saints linebacker Alex Okafor for a key blocked punt. The Saints had the ball at the 16-yard line and went on to score a touchdown. Marvin Hall handled the kickoff returns and had three for 74 yards, including a 30-yarder. Justin Hardy did nothing special on two returns for 12 yards. Grade D-minus
Coaching: Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian continued his hot hand in the red zone, where the Falcons were 4-of-4. Now, they’ve scored on their last eight times inside the opposition’s 20-yard line. The defense playing without three starters had a rough day at the office. They compounded their troubles by missing tackles. They needed one stop and couldn’t get it. Defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel couldn’t manufacture a pass rush. Poole was out of control at times, hitting Brees late, not flowing with Ginn and then finally over-shooting Brees and knocking Robert Alford off the tackle on the key late touchdown. He also had a horse-collar tackle. With the starters out, Poole may have been trying to do too much. They staff has to get Poole back under control and figure out a way to get Beasley unleashed. He has just two sacks over his past 12 games, including the playoffs. Grade C-minus
Next up: The Falcons (1-2) are set to host the Bengals (2-1) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes Benz Stadium. It will be the 14th meeting in the series. The Bengals lead the series 8-5.