When rookie head coaches Arthur Smith and Nick Sirianni arrived at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday for the start of the 2021 NFL regular season, both coaches knew that one would leave the stadium with their first victory on their resume while the other would learn the heartbreak of losing as a head coach and more than likely have lots of questions to answer about their teams upcoming season.
Unfortunately for Smith, it was his day to learn about the heartbreak. Smith got plenty of practice answering the 'what happened' questions as his team went 0-3 during the preseason. But after a 32-6 loss to the Eagles at home to begin the regular season, the questions, ridicule, and finger pointing only grew louder in the aftermath of the Atlanta Falcons falling to 0-1.
“I did a really bad job getting us ready to go,” Smith said in his postgame press conference.
That was quite evident for any who saw the action on the field in the hours prior.
After not playing any in the preseason, QB Matt Ryan (21-35, 164, 0TD) struggled most of the afternoon to connect with his receivers.
A lot of those struggles can be contributed to an ineffective offensive line that gave up three sacks and several QB pressures as Ryan was seemingly under duress for most of the day.
The Falcons did run the ball effectively at times, finishing with 124 yards on the ground as a team, but many of those yards came early in the game when the offense showed some sparks of excitement.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Falcons allowed the Eagles to amass 460 yards of total offense, while going 3-for-3 in red-zone opportunities. QB Jalen Hurts (27-35, 264 YD, 3TD), ran seemingly untouched on designed plays to get to the perimeter of the Falcons defense and found wide open receivers routinely in the Falcons secondary all afternoon.
Next up for the Falcons is a road trip to NFC South foe Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who began their season with a victory of Dallas, 31-29.