The Atlanta Falcons have strung together two incredibly impressive performances in two very important divisional games. After beating the Saints in week three, the Falcons handled the Panthers 48-33. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones were absolutely stellar and the defense, while frustrating at times, played a good enough game to win it.
Once again, let’s look at the Pro Football Focus grades and find out who contributed to the win. First, the offense.
- Julio Jones, 99.1: BREAKING—Julio is good at football. With 300 yards on 12 catches and one touchdown, Jones looked unstoppable this week after only one catch for 16 yards last week. I know they don’t ever give out perfect grades, but this is definitely as close as a player can get and the 99.1 accurately reflects that.
- Matt Ryan, 87.9: A score in the high 80s is great for a quarterback. Ryan had 503 yards on 28-of-37 passing with four touchdowns and one interception. This score really seems pretty fair to me—Ryan definitely looks like a monster right now, but the one interception really hurts his rating here. He still only has two picks on the year and is, statistically speaking, the best QB in the league right now.
- Andy Levitre, 78.7: This is where we start to see how well-rounded this win was—at least in terms of the offensive effort. Andy Levitre finally had a game where he wasn’t noticed for a poorly-timed penalty or a sack; he played a solid game and did his job. Most would say that if an offensive lineman goes unnoticed during a game or a season, they are doing pretty well. He was lined up against a pretty solid Panthers front that limited the Falcons run game, so a high 70s rating is pretty good, all things considered.
- Ryan Schraeder, 74.5: When a quarterback is able to throw to nine different receivers and over 500 yards, the offensive line did a pretty good job protecting him. A huge part of that was the two tackle spots, the best of which was Ryan Schraeder. The offensive line, as a whole, was very effective in pass protection but they were not as successful blocking for Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, so the score on the lower end of the 70s is also pretty accurate.
Quick note: Alex Mack had a phenomenal game and is a huge reason for the Falcons’ success on offense and the newfound confidence of Matt Ryan, but he was called for some poorly-timed penalties and had a down week run-blocking. Despite that, though, Mack should have been in the top four players on offense based on what I saw, but PFF is a lot more objective and analytical than I am. Ostensibly.
On to the defense.
- Deion Jones, 84.5: Jones continues to impress. He is doing a much better job communicating with the defense and getting them set before the ball is snapped, and once the play starts he is one of the fastest players on the field and one of the best open-field tacklers on the Falcons. He also got a great shot on Cam Newton that knocked him out of the game in the fourth quarter. This is the second week in a row Deion Jones has been a top player for the Falcons.
- Brian Poole, 83.8: Another rookie contributing for the Falcons defense. Poole has been fantastic in coverage against receivers in the slot, but one key area he has excelled is in identifying and attacking run plays. He is consistently one of the guys at the bottom of the pile after a play. Poole has forced the Falcons into a tough spot with the return of Jalen Collins this week and it looks like he will continue to challenge for playing time.
- Robert Alford, 80.8 and Desmond Trufant, 78.7: These two were paired due mostly because they seemed almost interchangeable at times on Sunday. Trufant had the more difficult assignment all day and played well, limiting Kelvin Benjamin to three catches for 39 yards. Alford had a tough job against Devin Funchess, but played well. I would argue that the ratings may not paint the whole picture: Alford got two picks late in the game and returned one for a touchdown, but I think that Trufant had the more consistent game for all four quarters. Nonetheless, each one played very well, even if late-game effectiveness was wanting.
The offense looked incredible. Matt Ryan is playing like we have never seen and is getting help from every single member of the team. Julio is a beast and that will continue to be the case, whether he gains 300 yards again this season or not. The defense, for the most part played a really solid game but took their foot off the gas late in the game. Until the drive where Cam was injured, the Falcons defense held the Panthers offense to three points.
This team is getting better each week, and it will have to, as the schedule only gets tougher from here.