Broncos vs. Falcons: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Atlanta

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistSeptember 17, 2012

Broncos vs. Falcons: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Atlanta

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    The Atlanta Falcons embarrassed Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football, winning 27-21. 

    The score does not indicate how ugly of a blowout it truly was, as Falcons' quarterback Matt Ryan was in MVP form as he picked apart the Denver defense. 

    Atlanta is now sitting comfortably with a 2-0 record. Let's take a look at the Falcons' final postgame grades and evaluations. 


1 of 10

    Matt Ryan — A+

    Matt Ryan played at an MVP level against the Denver Broncos, and was simply stunning in his display of accuracy, anticipation and decision making. 

    Ryan tossed two touchdowns to go with his 219 yards and managed the game perfectly late and proved to the NFL and its fans why he deserves to be in the conversation as an elite quarterback. 

Running Backs

2 of 10

    Michael Turner — C

    Turner spent the entire night against the Broncos appearing uninspired, and had a tough time getting anything going. He was a major reason the Falcons became one-dimensional as the game progressed. 

    With only 42 yards on 17 attempts, Turner could be looking at losing his job sooner rather than later after such an underwhelming performance. 


    Jacquizz Rodgers  — F

    If Turner was uninspired, there is not really a way to describe Rodgers' performance. Statistically Rodgers was a joke, rushing the ball three times for, you guessed it, three yards. 

    Outside of stats, Rodgers had a miserable game, showing a complete lack of vision and failing to convert on a third-and-short. 

Wide Receivers

3 of 10

    Roddy White — A

    White was the main recipient of Matt Ryan's outstanding night, catching eight balls for 102 yards and  a touchdown. 

    It was pretty clear as the night wore on that no one in the Broncos' defense, including Champ Bailey, stood a chance in coverage against White. 

    All talks of White being replaceable thanks to Julio Jones may have to be put on pause.


    Julio Jones — B

    For a second-year player, we sure are expecting a lot out of Jones each and every night, but he failed to deliver against Denver, catching only four passes for 14 yards. 

    The redeeming quality of Jones' night is that his one catch earned the Falcons a first down. Jones had a down night because he was the victim of double coverage all night, which is probably a major reason as to why White had such an explosive game. 


    Harry Douglas — B

    Douglas came up big in the slot for the Falcons all night, catching three passes for 27 yards. He continues to be a legitimate mismatch each time he takes the field, and the dynamic he adds to Atlanta's offense was on full display against the Broncos. 

Tight Ends

4 of 10

    Tony Gonzalez — B

    The wily veteran Gonzalez had himself quite a night, catching seven passes for 70 yards and a touchdown. He had a few drops, but his output was a major reason the Falcons were able to squeak out the victory. 

    In his final season in the NFL, Gonzalez continues to be serious redzone threat, and is more than willing to continue to make the tough catches over the middle. 

Offensive Line

5 of 10

    Offensive line — A+

    The entire offensive line for the Falcons turned in a spectacular performance against the Broncos' pair of elite pass-rushers in Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller. 

    Most deserving of a mention here is left tackle Sam Baker, who has experienced quite a bumpy ride in the NFL to this point. Baker was placed on an island most of the night and impressively held his own. 

    Baker's performance is similar to that of the entire unit, which gave quarterback Matt Ryan plenty of time on almost every play to pick apart the Denver defense with ease. 

Defensive Line

6 of 10

    Ray Edwards — D

    Ray Edwards did not play horrible by any means, but his idiotic personal foul in the first quarter for throwing a punch is enough to knock his grade down a few notches. A little maturity in a big game would go a long way for the veteran. 


    Jonathan Babineaux — B

    Babineaux let his presence be felt all night against the Broncos, and at one point helped collapse the pocket and sacked Peyton Manning. 

    While Babineaux is not the best player on the unit, he was an important cog that helped pressure Manning and at least slow down the Denver running game. 


    Peria Jerry — C

    Jerry had a similar game to Babineaux. Both were not exactly impressive against the run, but it was enough to pull off the victory. 

    He did not put up any ridiculous stats, but Jerry was a stout presence on the inside for the majority of the game that allowed the linebackers around him to get to the ball and make plays. 


    John Abraham — C

    Abraham appears to be nearing the end of his NFL career, and Monday against Denver was the perfect example as to why. Abraham failed to have a massive impact on the game like we are so accustomed to seeing. He put some pressure on Peyton Manning at times, but his failure to produce was quite noticeable. 


7 of 10

    Stephen Nicholas — A

    Nicholas was one of the stars for the Falcons' defense Monday, racking up eight total tackles and a forced fumble. 

    In what is becoming one of the stronger duos in the NFL, Nicholas teamed with Sean Weatherspoon to wreak havoc on the Denver offense all night long.  Nicholas' leadership on the field was critical to the Falcons' victory. 


    Sean Weatherspoon — A

    Weatherspoon was right there with the aforementioned Nicholas, notching 10 total tackles on the night. 

    He was everywhere on the field, whether it be in coverage or disrupting running plays by filling up the hole and bringing down the running back. 

    Weatherspoon is one of the best young linebackers in the NFL, and he put on a show for a national audience on Monday. 

Defensive Backs

8 of 10

    Asante Samuel — A+

    Samuel had himself quite a night, recording big hits all over the field en route to a seven-tackle night. While not known for his sound tackling, he turned heads against Denver with his sound tackling ability.

    Samuel was also solid in coverage, but that is something we have all come to expect from the veteran. 


    Robert McClain — B

    McClain received an opportunity to see some action after any injury allowed him to hit the field, and he made the most of it by intercepting Peyton Manning. 


    Dominique Franks — B

    Franks was in no way spectacular on his lone punt return opportunity, but he shined when it mattered most with sound coverage and six tackles. 


    William Moore — A+

    Moore was the highlight of the defensive unit for the Falcons Monday night, as he was simply all over the field making plays. 

    He finished the game with eight total tackles, a sack and an interception. It was a coming-out party for the young player, who made the most of the spotlight against an elite quarterback. 


    Thomas DeCoud — A

    If Moore had a breakout game, DeCoud reinforced why he is one of the better young safeties in the game. He finished the game with five tackles and an interception. 

    Like Moore, DeCoud was all over the field making plays, and did just enough to allow Atlanta to hold off a late comeback from Manning and the Broncos. 

Special Teams — A

9 of 10

    Matt Bosher — A+

    Bosher put on a show against Denver, pinning Peyton Manning and the Broncos inside their own 20-yard line three times on the night. He was also stellar on kickoffs, routinely forcing touchbacks. 

    Bosher's outstanding play allowed the Falcons to win the field position battle more often than not, which quietly had a huge outcome on the game. 


    Matt Bryant — A

    Bryant was solid when called upon, connecting on his two field goal attempts and all of his extra point attempts. 

Coaching — A

10 of 10

    Mike Smith — A

    A lot of credit has to go to head coach Mike Smith for coming up with a sound gameplan against the Broncos and getting his players and staff to buy into it. 

    Smith has been criticized recently for his teams inability to win big games, but that trend could be changing after a stellar performance from his team on Monday. 


    Mike Nolan — A

    Nolan has changed everything in Atlanta. For the past few years the defense has been predictable, but as Peyton Manning quickly found out, Nolan has this defense playing at a high level. 

    Nolan's new defense forced four turnovers and had Manning and Co. guess all night. Atlanta could have done without the late surge from the Broncos, but overall Monday was a nice body of work. 


    Dirk Koetter — B+

    Koetter called the perfect game against the Broncos. The quick-strike attack against the Denver defense worked perfectly, and his quarterback Matt Ryan responded in a big way. 

    More from the running game would have been nice, but Koetter's strategy to spread the ball around worked to perfection and notched a big win for Atlanta.