NFL News & Analysis

ATL-OAK grades: Matt Ryan, Atlanta tight ends overmatch Oakland

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Jacob Tamme #83 of the Atlanta Falcons makes a 14-yard catch for a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders during their NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 18, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Atlanta Falcons 35, Oakland Raiders 28

Here are the highest-graded players and biggest takeaways from the Atlanta Falcons' first win of the 2016 season:

Atlanta Falcons

Quarterback grade: Matt Ryan, 69.7

Falcons QB Matt Ryan perfect on deep throws

The Falcons' offense rolled the entire day with balance, rhythm, and superb play-calling by Kyle Shanahan. Matt Ryan silenced some doubters on his ability to push the ball vertically, going a perfect three-for-three for 124 yards on throws that traveled 20+ yards in the air. In addition, Ryan was accurate at every level of the defense, hitting on 26-of-34 attempts. A tough road win was just what the Falcons needed after losing to a divisional rival at home Week 1.

Top offensive grades

TE Jacob Tamme, 84.3

RT Ryan Schraeder, 80.1

C Alex Mack, 79.1

G Andy Levitre, 75.7

TE Austin Hooper, 74.4

Falcons' two-TE sets overmatch Raiders

They say a quality TE is a quarterback’s best friend; Matt Ryan certainly displayed a strong connection with his pair against Oakland. Jacob Tamme and Austin Hooper both recorded top-five offensive grades for the Falcons, catching a combined eight balls from 11 targets for 159 yards and a touchdown. Along with Julio Jones, the duo starred in Atlanta's passing attack. Coping with the combination of physicality and speed in the Falcons' multiple-TE sets will not be easy.

Top defensive grades

S Kemal Ishmael, 82.0

CB Brian Poole, 80.7

S Ricardo Allen, 77.9

DT Grady Jarrett, 75.8

DE Adrian Clayborn, 74.1

Atlanta's settled safety pairing developing rapidly

In Kemal Ishmael, the Falcons may have found one of those elusive strong safeties capable of setting the tone with hits over the middle. As well as registering four defensive stops, Ishmael closed quickly against the Raiders’ short-passing game, limiting opposing receivers to just 5.1 yards per catch. His partner on the backend, Ricardo Allen, offered the reliability required of a center fielder. Allen allowed just one catch on two targets for 3 yards. He also tackled well in the open field. It finally seems like the Falcons have some depth in their secondary.

Oakland Raiders

Quarterback grade: QB Derek Carr, 81.4

Derek Carr continues to impress, earns Raiders' highest offensive grade

Derek Carr’s rapid improvement shows no signs of abating. He was perhaps a little too eager to check the ball down against the Falcons, throwing only 10 of his 42 attempts beyond 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, but was highly accurate throughout. Overall, Carr completed 34 of 42 targeted passes (three throwaways) on the day.

Derek Carr versus pressure

Top offensive grades

QB Derek Carr, 81.4

HB Latavius Murray, 81.1

FB Jamize Olawale, 78.4

WR Amari Cooper, 77.2

LT Donald Penn, 77.2

Distribution of rushing attempts working for Raiders’ backfield

Latavius Murray might be one of those backs who is paradoxically more effective with fewer carries. He certainly monopolized his opportunities against Atlanta, carrying eight times for 57 yards (53 after contact) and a touchdown, breaking four tackles on route. DeAndre Washington also had a good day, carrying six times for 46 yards. In the passing game, Murray and fullback Jamize Olawale both saw targets. Combined, they managed eight catches for 72 yards. The performance of the Raiders’ backfield, and Murray in particular, early this season has provided a major boost for Oakland’s offensive projection.

Top defensive grades 

OLB Khalil Mack, 84.7

DT Stacy McGee, 83.8

DT Justin Ellis, 76.6

OLB Bruce Irvin, 72.4

CB David Amerson, 68.7

Overhauled secondary underperforming

New players—and free-agent additions, in particular—always pose a risk for a team, regardless of talent. The Raiders invested in their secondary this offseason, but have yet to see the desired results. David Amerson was the only starter to register a solid grade against the Falcons, and even he missed three tackles against the run. The remaining trio combined to allow 11 catches on 14 targets for 193 yards and a touchdown. Reggie Nelson and Sean Smith have both displayed their quality in the recent seasons, but they’ve started slowly in Oakland.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Raiders OLB Khalil Mack

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