The Atlanta Falcons we watched in Sunday’s opener against the Philadelphia Eagles was not the Falcons team that new head coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot had prompt us for.
Their “win now” mentality went out the door on the first scoring drive. Nonetheless, Smith blames himself.
“I did a really poor job getting us ready to go,” Smith said, via The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. “I feel awful for our fans. Everybody showed up today. We’ll do a better job. That game is not going to define us. It’s a long season to go. I certainly didn’t do a good enough job getting us ready to go today.”
Still, Smith remains optimistic about the rest of the season.
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Arthur Smith Addresses the Left Guard Position
There are a lot of questions that remain following the Falcons’ 32-6 loss to Philly, but the biggest is the left guard position.
Rookie Jalen Mayfield got the start at LG and it was not a pretty sight.
For most of the night, Mayfield was lined up opposite Eagles’ 300-pound defensive tackle Javon Hargrave. Mayfield had two false starts and Hargrave ended the day with two of the three sacks on Matt Ryan.
“I have to do everything better,” Mayfield said after the game Sunday. “There’s not one thing in my game that’s fully complete. I have to improve on everything that I do.”
Smith said he has “all the faith in the world” in Mayfield––eventually––but is considering all of his options at left guard.
“I wouldn’t say that it got too big for him, he’s certainly not going to be pleased with his performance,” Smith said on Monday. “He knows what the issues are. He’s a tough-minded guy.”
Mayfield, who was a third-round draft pick from Michigan, was next in line after Josh Andrews broke his hand and landed on injured reserve on Sept. 1.
And before that, expected 2021 left guard, Matt Gono, suffered an injury and was added to the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and was last seen wearing a neck brace.
“It will be a little bit before we get there on Matt,” Smith said.
Another Rookie Could Be a Candidate at LG
When Mayfield left Sunday’s game with an unannounced injury, rookie guard Drew Dalman stepped in.
Dalman, who was a fourth-round pick from Stanford, spent training camp playing at both center and guard. Matt Hennessey won the starting job at center leaving Dalman’s best bet to see the field at a guard spot.
In both the 2019 and 2020 seasons, Dalman started all 18 games at center for Stanford. He earned himself All-Pac-12 honors from different publications while also earning a degree in mechanical engineering and was named team captain his senior year.
The Falcons also have Colby Gossett who they added off waivers from the Browns once Andrews was injured. He’s played in five NFL games and made four starts.
“Colby we’ll see,” Smith said. “We’ll see what practice looks like this week. All options are on the table. The thing is, you have to fix it. You have to fix your problems. You’re in the solution business. You fix it. You give a guy an opportunity and if they can’t fix it. Then we have to do something.”