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Despite Comeback, Falcons Leave Los Angeles With More Questions Than Answers

The Atlanta Falcons have now played eight quarters in the regular season, with the results entirely a mixed bag. Which questions need to be answered in the team's Week 3 matchup with the Seattle Seahawks?

Week 1 of the NFL season offers the best opportunity for overreactions, be it for better or worse, as each team's one game is all there is to go off.

For the Atlanta Falcons, the season-opening 27-26 loss to the New Orleans Saints featured several positives, but also a handful of all-too-familiar issues.

Among the biggest takeaways from the contest was Atlanta's improved trench play, with the defensive line recording four sacks and offensive line allowing none while paving the way for over 200 rushing yards.

While Week 1 can provide the highest of highs and lowest of lows, Week 2 serves as a stabilizing presence, as teams are able to put a second game of tape on the table, hoping to show signs of a developing identity.

And yet, after two games, there are still more questions surrounding the Falcons than answers. After all, Atlanta's played eight quarters, four of which were very good and four of which were far from it.

Here are four questions in need of answering following the Falcons' 31-27 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.

Can the Falcons Find Consistency - And in What Manner?

Factoring in only the first three quarters of the Saints game and the final quarter against the Rams, the Falcons have outscored their opponents 40-13. However, when taking the remaining four quarters into account, Atlanta's been outscored 45-13.

So, not only have the Falcons yet to put together a full game, but they've also posted a nearly dead-even split when comparing the four quarters. Moving forward, Atlanta needs to find some semblance of consistency; however, the question remaining to be answered is which team it'll become - the good four quarters, the bad, or somewhere in between.

What Happened to the Trenches?

After turning in a strong performance on both sides of the ball, the Falcons' play at the line of scrimmage took a noticeable step backwards against the Rams. Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota was sacked three times and forced to evade pressure often, while the running game mustered just 90 total yards on 27 carries - an average of 3.3 yards per carry.

Defensively, the Falcons struggled generating pressure on Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, who was "sacked" just once - a scramble for no gain, taken down by outside linebacker Ade Ogundeji - and worked from clean pockets throughout.

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Did Falcons 'Players Only' Meeting Spark Win vs. Seahawks?

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The Falcons have two new starters on the offensive line and, apart from defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, a totally new-look defensive front. Through two games, both units have flashed high-level potential while also having spurts reminiscent of last year's struggles.

How Long Does the Marcus Mariota Experiment Last?

Mariota is an eighth-year veteran who's started 63 games, but he's made far too many rookie mistakes in his first two games with the Falcons. From the redzone fumble and botched snap against the Saints to a pair (that could've been three) of critical interceptions against the Rams, Mariota simply hasn't played well enough when the Falcons truly needed him to rise to the occasion.

Granted, he's managed the offense well, and his legs have given the Falcons a chance to get creative and extend plays even when pressure arrives. But still, Mariota's field vision and release point was inconsistent in Los Angeles and cost the Falcons on several occasions.

There have been definite flashes from Mariota, but just too many missed opportunities. Desmond Ridder has been lurking in the background all summer, with many (but not Falcons coach Arthur Smith) discussing when he'll debut. To this point, Mariota hasn't done much to quiet the conversation.

When Will Kyle Pitts Break Through?

Atlanta's 21-year-old Pro Bowl tight end entered the season with immense expectations but has just four receptions for 38 yards on 10 targets through two games. Smith has stressed that Pitts has made a huge impact, but his biggest contributions have been as a blocker and decoy, essentially benefitting the rest of Atlanta's offense.

While Pitts has taken the selfless approach, his lack of production is a significant blow to a Falcons team dependent on his playmaking ability. Last year, Atlanta went 3-0 in games where Pitts recorded over 100 receiving yards, a clear indication that his involvement directly affects winning.

The Falcons will get a chance to answer these questions and more on Sunday at 4:25 p.m., when the team travels to take on the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field.


You can follow Daniel Flick on Twitter @DFlickDraft

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