Here's five things we learned from Falcons-Rams.
- The offensive line is still a problem, but the source of the problem isn't where you think it is. This week, per Pro Football Focus, Garrett Reynolds graded out as the team's best lineman, and it appears Lamar Holmes improved by leaps and bounds over a week ago, even if he still struggled to handle Chris Long off the edge at times.
The real problem was the left side, particularly Sam Baker. I don't know if Baker's injury is sapping his effectiveness or if he's just reverted to Bad Baker, but Robert Quinn stole his lunch and ate it right in front of him, munching loudly and staring at him with eyes of fire. The Falcons are betting that Reynolds will continue to play well, that Holmes will grow quickly and that Konz will become the Pro Bowl-caliber center we all think he can be.
One thing is mighty clear: Even if the rest of the line improves, it will never be more than an average unit if Baker morphs back into a giant liability at left tackle. Let's hope he's just banged up.
Joplo Bartu is likely and should be the starter. The DW will have more on this tomorrow, but suffice to say Bartu impressed in coverage against Jared Cook, tackled well and graded out well per PFF on 63 snaps. He played ahead of Stephen Nicholas and looked, to be frank, much better.
It can't be said enough: This is a remarkable rise for a UDFA linebacker, and the Falcons may just have found a gem and a long-term starter outside. I was wrong to predict he wouldn't start at all this year, but believe me, I'm glad to be wrong.
- Whether you believe the Kroy Biermann Achilles rumors or not, I'm not real high on his chances of returning in time for the Dolphins game. If he's down, the Falcons are going to need big contributions from Malliciah Goodman and Jonathan Massaquoi.
Some mixed results there. Goodman was lousy in his limited snaps yesterday after faring pretty well in Week 1. He's probably purely a run-down DE at this point until he grows into his role a bit. Mass, on the other hand, looked pretty good in his snaps, even if it wasn't reflected on the stat sheet. Look for Mass to draw the start if Duff Man is out, and hope he can keep the good times rolling.
- Suspect line? One of your best receivers a decoy? Your All-Pro tight end can't quite get open? Your starting running back is down and you have no ground game? Hey, you're Matt Ryan. You don't give a falcon.
It can't be stressed enough: This was one of the most impressive performances of Ryan's career. The line did a better-than-anticipated job of keeping his pocket clean, but even when pressured Ryan was pretty surgical. It helps having Julio Jones to throw to, as he got open all day and accounted for 11 catches. If Ryan and Jones forge the Young-Rice connection they need to, this offense is headed for juggernaut status when White's back at full strength, run game be damned.
- He doesn't get enough credit, so I'm just gonna say it: Matt Bosher is an awesome punter. The Falcons are forcing teams to convert long drives again and again because Bosher's leg and directional punting skills are pinning them deep. When the offense sputters, it's great to have a punter like Bosher.
What did you learn from yesterday's game? Besides injuries. We'll talk about those later, when we feel like sadness again.