Atlanta Falcons: 5 Things We Learned About the Team in Week 9
The Atlanta Falcons took care of business on the road in Week 9, defeating the Indianapolis Colts, 31-7. Just about every football fan expected Atlanta to win with ease, and the Falcons did not disappoint.
Julio Jones made his presence known in a big way, scoring two huge touchdowns in his first game back after weeks of dealing with a hamstring injury. He appeared to have no lingering issues when he broke a play open for 80 yards, leaving the Colts secondary in the rear-view mirror.
Jacquizz Rodgers received some decent playing time and he made the most of it, rushing for 44 yards on 10 carries. Quizz has been talked about a lot this season as a weapon for the Falcons, and we should continue to see more of him in the near future.
Overall, it was a good all-around effort that kept their winning streak up. So, what did we learn going forward?
Julio Is a Playmaker
After the first bomb that Julio Jones caught, falling into the end zone in between triple coverage, I think everyone was already pleased with his performance for the day. But no, he wasn't done yet.
Jones went on to bust a huge pass play open for an 80-yard touchdown. Seriously, the dude can play.
Jones finished with three catches for 131 yards and those two scores. It was a great "welcome back" game for the rookie, and I'm sure I speak for all of Atlanta in saying I can't wait to see what he can do the rest of the year.
The only question I have: Why didn't they throw to him more?
I know there was really no need to run up the score (Mike Smith doesn't have the same mentality as Sean Payton), but it would have been nice to see him get a few more looks. Who knows, maybe he could have broken another 50-plus yarder off.
Matt Ryan Still Has Some Issues
Yes, I'm going to be the bad guy here. I loved what Matt Ryan was able to do in Week 9, but I still was left questioning the fourth-year quarterback at times.
Ryan threw one pick-six to Colt's cornerback Jerraud Powers, and when I say threw it to him, I literally mean right to him. He was going for a quick slant to Roddy White, but it went directly into Powers' hands.
Ryan also finished with a completion rate of 58 percent, and looked off and on at times. Still, he threw three touchdowns and led the team to a solid victory, so I'll give the negativity a rest.
He will need to bring his A-game next weekend. The Falcons take on the first-place Saints in a huge matchup that could put Atlanta at the head of the NFC South.
Quizz Is a Nice Compliment
Jacquizz Rodgers was given 10 carries on Sunday, and he made the most of them. He averaged 4.4 yards a carry and caught one pass for 16 yards.
We all know he's got the explosiveness and speed to break plays open. His size has always been questioned, but they aren't asking him to be a feature back who carries the ball 20 times a game. Quizz can be a good backup to Turner, and the Falcons need to continue to implement him in their gameplan.
Tony Gonzalez Continues to Be a Great Red-Zone Target
Tony Gonzalez caught another touchdown on Sunday, giving him five on the year. This time it was on a simple 1-yard toss. Ryan continues to look for his tight end close to the goal line, and it seems to pay off.
Michael Turner normally just punches the ball in from short yardage, but he had some difficulty with his usual duties against the Colts. If this continues to happen in the future, the Falcons can always count on Tony G to bail them out.
The Secondary Continues to Improve
After losing to the Green Bay Packers, the Falcons have had three great performances in a row against opposing quarterbacks. They beat the Panthers after picking off three Cam Newton passes and the Lions after holding Matthew Stafford to 183 yards passing.
They didn't face the toughest challenge against Curtis Painter, but the secondary still impressed me. Painter had his second-worst game of the season, as he finished with just 98 yards on 13-of-27 passing with one interception.
Now the real challenge is here. They'll need to step it up even more in Week 10 when they take on Drew Brees.