Falcons finally show an offense worthy of their talent

Julio Jones, here scoring his second toucdown, led Falcons' 40-point assault. (Kansas City Star)

Julio Jones, here scoring his second toucdown, led Falcons' 40-point assault. (Kansas City Star)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Season openers do not always indicate which way a season will go. But they are like taking off a mask. They can reveal beauty marks that wow admirers or moles that look like a third eye and scare small children.

If there was particular concern about the Falcons’ season opener, it was justified. This year’s first game would come on the road. Openers on the road haven’t mirrored the intersection of joy and bliss for this team. They had lost the last three. The offense hadn’t produced even one touchdown in 12 quarters and an overtime. Matt Ryan? Losses to Pittsburgh and Chicago produced seven sacks, two interceptions and a few rearranged major organs. And he was outscored by a defensive end (Kroy Biermann, interception return).

“I know I hadn’t won one of these on the road,” Ryan said. “It’s a hard thing to do.” True. It’s just not always that ugly.

But when the mask came off the Falcons Sunday, there was no third eye on offense. Just a pair of eyes in the coach’s box that seemed to be looking in the right direction.

Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter made his debut as the team’s offensive coordinator. The Falcons produced four touchdowns and four field goals in their first eight possessions. Only then was punter Matt Bosher summoned from his Barcalounger and asked to put down the sandwich and remote control because the team actually had to kick the ball to the other team. Bosher’s lone punt came with 3:16 left in the game.

Matt Ryan threw three touchdown passes and finished with one of highest ratings of his career: 136.4. (AP photo)

Matt Ryan threw three touchdown passes and finished with one of highest ratings of his career: 136.4. (AP photo)

“I think he had a bunch of holds [for placekicks],” Ryan said. “That’s better action for him anyhow.”

The Falcons won their season opener 40-24 over Kansas City. They led 40-17 early in the final quarter. OK. The Chiefs’ defense was significantly dented by injuries and a suspension. Three straight second-half turnovers also gift wrapped 13 Falcons’ points. But this was the kind of offensive showing they’ve been waiting for. For too long, they have been less than the sum of their parts.

Ryan was great (23 for 31, 3 TDs, 136.4 efficiency rating). Julio Jones was whatever is north of great (6 catches for 108 and 2 touchdowns in the first 2½ quarters). Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez each had strong supporting roles.

But the most credit should go to Koetter, whose play-calling – including this strange and wonderful creation from another planet called a screen pass – directed the whole show.

“This is what it was supposed to be like last year,” said White, in a veiled shot at former offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey. “This is what we expected.”

When asked directly about Koetter, White said: “He’s relentless. He goes after it no matter what. He never lets the defense relax. You can see what he’s capable of in play-calling. You just have to go out there and execute the plays.

“We don’t even know what he’s going to call. There might be a time when one play will come in, then he’ll say, ‘No, no. Let’s do this instead.’ It’s a whole lot different than last year.”

You won’t read any Koetter quotes in this column because head coach Mike Smith doesn’t permit any of his coordinators to speak after games — only on late Tuesday afternoons, when the last game has long passed and the next game is five days away.

But the reviews from players have been glowing. Gonzalez, whose third-quarter touchdown catch and trademark crossbar spike drew boos from the Chiefs’ fans — who used to be his fans — said: “I don’t know how, but Matt’s just understanding everything that’s going on with this offense. He’s got a complete grasp of it.”

When asked if he agreed with White’s assessment about Koetter being unpredictable, Gonzalez said, “Yeah, and that’s what you kind of want. One thing about this offense is it’s not one dimensional. We can run ball, we caan throw it to Roddy, Julio, Harry [Douglas], me. That’s going to keep defenses on their heels this year.”

Ryan is in his fifth season. Smith said of  his performance Sunday, “That might be the best game that he’s played.”

It doesn’t guarantee anything for next week against Denver, or Dallas, New York or Detroit. But finally, we saw more than mere hints of this offense’s potential. In week one and on the road, that’s a significant plus.

By Jeff Schultz

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174 comments Add your comment

The Grinch

September 9th, 2012
7:18 pm

Nice win; the play calling is considerably better. Now if only Smitty would take his hands off the defense…

JSS

September 9th, 2012
7:22 pm

Funny that you kept it on the offense solely, but they made plays… But if Nolan continues to smoke and mirror 2nd halves enough to keep teams from challenging their middle core or going deep who knows? It is the regular season…

Wrecker

September 9th, 2012
7:27 pm

Ryan looked amazing. 5-6 years in the league is when QBs typically start to show whether they will be a legend or a nobody.

Ivan

September 9th, 2012
7:33 pm

Awesome offensive display today.

Day One Fan

September 9th, 2012
7:34 pm

@ MR2, brother there are always some on these blogs that will hate on you. I hope you understand the reasoning. Great game Matt! We love you!!

Post-it

September 9th, 2012
7:35 pm

@JSS. Maddox and Wallace? You’re showing your age. And your prejudice.

Day One Fan

September 9th, 2012
7:37 pm

If MR2 threw for 500 yds and won the SB there are always going to be the “MCR’s” on here hating on you because they prefer the douche bag who was here before.

Mr C.

September 9th, 2012
7:38 pm

Offense was great. The problem will be the defense. How can ur starting MLB register 0 tackle!!! The stat line shows MLB Dent with 0 tackles. Something must be wrong with my eyes unless #52 didn’t play against the Chiefs.

mountain_jim

September 9th, 2012
7:38 pm

I am so thankful that Mularkey is gone. And now we have a DC that can adjust at halftime. :)

Post-it

September 9th, 2012
7:39 pm

Great pre game ovation for Gonzo. But I gotta say the boos after his touchdown dunk were even louder.

Day One Fan

September 9th, 2012
7:40 pm

Mike Nolan actually made halftime adjustments. Who would have thought that possible…lol. Great job.

Day One Fan

September 9th, 2012
7:41 pm

We also know the reason some prefer the douche bag.

Day One Fan

September 9th, 2012
7:43 pm

I can understand the louder boo’s for TG. The fans in KC, unlike Atl, love their team over one player.

Day One Fan

September 9th, 2012
7:44 pm

Again, thanks birds and dawgs. What a weekend!!

Day One Fan

September 9th, 2012
7:46 pm

Funny how the birds and dawgs had games that were a mirror image.

Michael

September 9th, 2012
7:46 pm

The defense must stop those 3 and long or the good teams will have our lunch again this season.

Day One Fan

September 9th, 2012
7:47 pm

@medea- Why does that matter?

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 9th, 2012
7:52 pm

vs 3 missing starters for the Chiefs & Matt Cassel.

When does the parade start?

Falcants “Regular Season Champs” :)

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 9th, 2012
7:54 pm

Wrecker

September 9th, 2012
7:27 pm
Ryan looked amazing. 5-6 years in the league is when QBs typically start to show whether they will be a legend or a nobody.

______________________________________________

Big Ben won in year 1…………

Next excuse? :)

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 9th, 2012
7:56 pm

Mr C.

September 9th, 2012
7:38 pm
Offense was great. The problem will be the defense. How can ur starting MLB register 0 tackle!!! The stat line shows MLB Dent with 0 tackles. Something must be wrong with my eyes unless #52 didn’t play against the Chiefs.

___________________________________________

I thought you were dead since you didn’t show your face since CHOKE got shutout by the Giants after you called him elite then you disappeared :)

Clever new name though…ha ha :)

JSS

September 9th, 2012
7:57 pm

“And your prejudice”

I wonder if my Girlfriend and my godkids know? Oh my, I better repent :-)

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 9th, 2012
7:58 pm

Peyton’s arm won’t get tired in the 2nd half and the defense won’t be missing 3 starters :)

Mike "Pick" Vick

September 9th, 2012
7:59 pm

What was Vick’s “next excuse” today? 4 INTs. vs. those Super Bowl Bound CLEVELAND BROWNS.

JSS

September 9th, 2012
8:00 pm

Here come the name changers…

MarkATL

September 9th, 2012
8:01 pm

Well Mr. Matt Choke, Looks like our Falcons get a “W” today. How about them Saints today? LOL!! :)

DeepDiver

September 9th, 2012
8:02 pm

DeepDiver

September 9th, 2012
8:02 pm

That’s RG3

MarkATL

September 9th, 2012
8:05 pm

Hmm.. two picks near the end by Brees,.. very costly… I wonder if Brees will “Choke” in next week’s game. :)

JSS

September 9th, 2012
8:05 pm

MCR, when did mythically become a Saints fan?

Jamaaliver

September 9th, 2012
8:06 pm

‘Old Noodle Arm’ sure showed ‘em today. Seen This, Matt “Choke”, Who Dat….

you guys are all eerily quiet today!!!!!

=-)

ijonathan

September 9th, 2012
8:12 pm

This game was a heck of a lot better than previous road openers, obviously, and it served to help confirm some of the good offensive vibes eminating from the offseason, camp and preseason.

However, it is just one game.

Better to be trending up than down.

Blake

September 9th, 2012
8:13 pm

@Matt “CHOKE” Ryan ….who are you and what do you care? Falcons put up 40 and you got the gall to come here and put down our team….You look stupid coming on here and being negative after that performance….GO AWAY CLOWN…choke on a philly cheese steak or wherever the hell your from.We can talk after the Denver game……I didn’t see Ryans arm get tired….your just a blip on this blogs radar screen….GO AWAY STUPID!

Mike "Pick" Vick

September 9th, 2012
8:13 pm

CHOKE post from earlier today:

“Welcome to the Matt “CHOKE” Rysn annual meltdown.

I loved Warren Sapps bold prediction this morning:

Chiefs 41

Falcants 0

I knew I liked Warren Sapp for a reason”

Yep, Choke and Warren Sapp. A couple of comedic geniuses.

Blake

September 9th, 2012
8:15 pm

@Matt “CHOKE” Ryan …..you sound like a jealous 5 year old child!

MarkATL

September 9th, 2012
8:17 pm

Warren really predicted that?? LOL!!! Just like him… He is ALL TALK and NO ACTION!! Just like he did when he was a player. :)

ijonathan

September 9th, 2012
8:17 pm

It’s always interesting to see some newer bloggers join the fray and encounter MCR for the first time…I’m sure it is a source of constant energy and amusement for MCR!

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 9th, 2012
8:18 pm

0-3 and counting.

Next question? :)

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 9th, 2012
8:21 pm

For all you newcomers, allow me to introduce myself………..

I have been here since 2008 and if you can’t figure out why

well I can’t turn your brains on for you…..

Welcome and enjoy :)

ijonathan

September 9th, 2012
8:23 pm

Nice to see Julio Jones getting some serious airtime and love on the Faith Hill opening for Sunday Night Football!

ijonathan

September 9th, 2012
8:24 pm

Oh wait…that might have been Larry Fitzgerald…just saw the red uniform and #11. Probably Fitz.

phil

September 9th, 2012
8:28 pm

Fire someone!!

DawgNole

September 9th, 2012
8:28 pm

ijonathan
September 9th, 2012
8:23 pm

Nice to see Julio Jones getting some serious airtime and love on the Faith Hill opening for Sunday Night Football!
________________

Nice to see Faith Hill. Period.

DawgNole

September 9th, 2012
8:29 pm

phil
September 9th, 2012
8:28 pm

Fire someone!!
___________________

One of your better lines.

phil

September 9th, 2012
8:29 pm

And while an ass and annoying as can be, Choke has been right 4 years running…

JSS

September 9th, 2012
8:31 pm

@ Phil…
Ha ha, Bob Weiss…

phil

September 9th, 2012
8:31 pm

I use it too much but thanks….

Maybe just fire mike nolan….

Voice of Reason

September 9th, 2012
8:34 pm

Choke remains a joke. Great game for the Falcons!

phil

September 9th, 2012
8:35 pm

Bob Weiss….

Why would you bring back the definition of catatonic? He couldn’t coach church league ball…

JSS

September 9th, 2012
8:35 pm

phil
September 9th, 2012
8:29 pm
“Choke has been right 4 years running…”

Thus that is the core of the animus…

ijonathan

September 9th, 2012
8:35 pm

Phil, if MCR’s schtick were simply that Ryan has severly underperformed in the playoffs, then yes, he has been right. But with all due respect MCR :-) , he criticizes Ryan on virtually everything, setting up strawman arguments, apples to oranges comparisons and cherry-picked statistics. In all of that, MCR is usually quite wrong. But entertaining, no doubt.