The Atlanta Falcons lost to the Philadelphia Eagles last night, 18-12, in the first game of the NFL’s regular season.
Adding insult to an injurious game, Keanu Neal, the heart and soul of the Atlanta Falcons stellar defense, will miss the remainder of the season after tearing his ACL last night against the Eagles, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
This is a huge blow for the Falcons and for Neal, as his hard-hitting patrolling of the midfield provided the Atlanta Falcons with one of its best free safeties in years.
Neal went down in the first quarter of the game in scary, non-contact fashion, but then soldiered on for the first drive of the second half, before finally coming out of the game and never returning.
Neal only missed two games in the first two seasons of his career, so this is a shocking injury, and one that brings up multiple questions for the Atlanta Falcons.
First off, who will replace Neal? Damontae Kazee, a second-year player out of San Diego State looked very good in lieu of Neal. In fact, Kazee’s bone-crushing hit on Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert led to a Deion Jones interception. That play, in turn, led to the only touchdown the Atlanta Falcons were able to muster.
Going forward, this is a tough loss for the Falcons, who came into the season with a lot of promise. Now, without the leadership and marrow-rattling tackles of Neal, the team will have to look for the talents of Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman and Mohamed Sanu on offense to pay off — even with multiple questions abounding about offensive coordinator Steven Sarkisian’s questionable playcalling last night.
No matter what, this season just got a lot more interesting for the Atlanta Falcons and their fans. And not in a good way.