Vivlamore reporting from Flowery Branch.
There wasn’t much to be unhappy about following the Falcons’ season-opening 40-24 victory over the Chiefs Sunday. However, coach Mike Smith wants to see better from the run game.
The Falcons finished with 84 yards on 23 carries. Michael Turner finished with 32 yards on 11 carries. Although the game plan against the Chiefs called for a significant number of passes, more will be expected this week against the Broncos.
“We’ve got to run it more effectively and more efficiently than we did [Sunday],” Smith said. “We have to sustain our blocks. We missed some blocks. We missed some cuts. I think it was a group effort. That is something that we want to make sure we address in the next couple of days because we want to be able to run the ball effectively. Going into the game plan this week, it wasn’t the main thing that we wanted to get accomplished.”
Although the Falcons scored on their first eight possessions, four were field goals despite excellent field position.
Smith noted that the Falcons had drives that started on their side of the 50-yard line – at the 43-, 24-, 31- and 7-yard lines. Three of those drives resulted in three points.
“That’s something that we have to be much better at,” Smith said.
Another bright spot during Sunday’s victory was that the Falcons committed just two penalties. Matt Ryan was called for a false start in being too demonstrative in his pre-play calls. The Falcons were also called for holding during a punt return. The calls totaled just 12 yards.
During the preseason the Falcons committed 37 penalties, the fourth most in the NFL, totaling 327 yards.
“It’s very encouraging because as you guys know for the last four weeks I’ve been talking about 10 and 11 penalties [a game] and where is this coming from because we’ve been one of the least penalized team in the National Football League since we got here,” Smith said. “I really thought it was a clean game. … It was much better than we did in the preseason.”
No tackles for Dent
Akeem Dent got his first start at middle linebacker for the Falcons as he replaces Curtis Lofton. The second-year player from Georgia failed to record a tackle.
Not without reason.
The Falcons ran out of their base defense for only 11 plays, according to Smith. They ran their sub package – with three cornerbacks and two linebackers – for the majority of the game.
Linebackers Stephen Nicholas and Sean Weatherspoon led the Falcons in tackles with 10 and seven respectively.
“I was just playing football man,” Nicholas said.