What it means: One game doesn’t make a season. The Falcons showed that last season when they lost their opener at Pittsburgh and still went 13-3. But this one was troubling because the Falcons were totally dominated in just about every phase of the game. That's not good in any circumstances. But it's especially discouraging when you come into a season with Super Bowl aspirations.
What I liked: For really the first time in his star-crossed career, it looked as though defensive tackle Peria Jerry made an impact. Jerry was hurt early in 2009, his rookie season, and spent last season as a backup. The Falcons believe that his knee is now completely healthy and he can have a big season. Despite what was happening around him, Jerry got off to a decent start.
What I didn’t like: Just about everything except Jerry and kicker Matt Bryant, who made both his field goals. The defense gave up all sorts of big plays, and the offense made several uncharacteristic mistakes. Running back Michael Turner lost a fumble and Matt Ryan was intercepted and lost a fumble that Brian Urlacher took in for a touchdown.
No explosiveness: The Falcons spent the entire offseason talking about their desire to be more explosive. We saw very little of that, except for two sacks by John Abraham, one long throw to Tony Gonzalez and one long run by Turner. But that was about it. We didn’t see much of rookie receiver Julio Jones until he caught a 32-yard pass in the third quarter when the Falcons already were trailing 30-6. We also didn’t see much out of Roddy White or Harry Douglas, who also was flagged for a nonsensical unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the third quarter. Yeah, I know the Cover 2 is designed to prevent big plays and Chicago has some very good defensive talent. But these aren’t the 1985 Bears.
What’s next: The Falcons host a Sunday night game next week that will come with all sorts of storylines and attention. They host the Philadelphia Eagles. That means quarterback Michael Vick will be coming back to where he started his NFL career.