Can L.A. rebound against one of the top rushing attacks of Week 1?
If there is one thing that Falcons head coach Arthur Smith has gotten right in Atlanta, it is the run game. Same as with the offense that he had in Tennessee as the Titans offensive coordinator, helping Derrick Henry become the most prolific runner of his era, Smith has developed something special in the run game with the Falcons by turning Cordarrelle Patterson into one of the better first round picks of 2013.
The former wide receiver and All-Pro kick returner has found his real niche in football as the Falcons running back. Patterson rushed for 120 yards in Week 1’s last second loss to the New Orleans Saints, building on the 618 rushing yards that he posted in 2021. Patterson also caught 52 passes for 548 yards last season but that was not the offense’s area of focus on Sunday, as the Falcons rushed for over 200 yards against the Saints.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota, still a step behind average starting quarterbacks as a passer, had 12 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown.
Last season, the Falcons ranked 31st in rushing yards and 30th in yards per carry, but by building the focus around Patterson and Mariota, that seems to be an immediate area of improvement for Smith’s offense. The Falcons led 16-7 at halftime and 26-10 in the fourth quarter, but Atlanta’s pass defense crumbled against Jameis Winston and Michael Thomas, allowing 17 points in the final 11:12 of regulation.