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Falcons MVP and awards, four games into the season

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Who are the Falcons most deserving of accolades? Our staff gives their takes.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Dave Choate

MVP: Matt Ryan

Offensive Player of the Year: Julio Jones

Defensive Player of the Year: Deion Jones

Rookie of the Year: Deion Jones

Matt Ryan is having the best four game stretch of his career and is running one of the best offenses in the NFL, so he deserves this. Julio Jones’ massive game against the Panthers and his continuing importance as a threat even when he’s not getting the ball wins him OPoY, given if Devonta Freeman warrants a strong mention. And Deion Jones cleans up on the rest because while he’s not purely a better player than Desmond Trufant, who has been as stellar as ever, his speed and physicality have turned the linebacker corps from an active liability to a perfectly acceptable unit, which is huge progress.

DW

MVP: Matt Ryan

Offensive Player of the Year: Julio Jones

Defensive Player of the Year: Deion Jones

Rookie of the Year: Deion Jones

This may be the most confident I’ve ever seen Ryan play in his entire career, including the 2012 season. His reads are good, his throws have zip and he is challenging downfield like he never has before. He’s on an unsustainable record-breaking pace, so I expect some regression to the mean, but he’s been phenomenal so far. Julio quieted all doubters by single-handedly decimating the Saints “top” defense for a ridiculous 300 yards. Combined with the rest of the season, it’s clear that Julio is still one of the best receivers in the league and capable of annihilating defenses single-handedly. Deion Jones has been surprisingly good early on. He plays with incredible speed and physicality and has proven to be an impressive upgrade in the middle of the defense. He’s still only scratching the surface and I’m thrilled to watch him develop.

Allen Strk

MVP: Matt Ryan

Offensive Player of the Year: Julio Jones

Defensive Player of the Year: Desmond Trufant

Rookie of the Year: Deion Jones

After looking rattled over the past three seasons, Ryan is more composed than ever. Alex Mack has clearly been a difference maker. There is actual depth at wide receiver for the first time in years. With Kyle Shanahan’s outstanding play calling, Ryan looks rejuvenated. His performance against Carolina was mesmerizing. There hasn’t been that many attempted downfield passes, since the playoff win over Seattle. You can tell that his confidence is sky high, which is a drastic difference from last season. Julio Jones’ career day against Carolina gives him the nod over Devonta Freeman. After a quiet start to the season, he abused every Panthers’ cornerback that tried to stick with him. On the other side, Desmond Trufant continues to shadow opposing top receivers. He locked up Brandin Cooks and Kelvin Benjamin over the past two weeks. The stellar cornerback also made Amari Cooper work for every yard. He remains as the most dependable player on defense by a wide margin. Deion Jones’ speed and instincts have made him into a fan favorite so far. As he continues to learn how to get off blocks, the rookie linebacker can develop into a upper-tier middle linebacker. His open-field tackling is improving following a difficult start.

Caleb Rutherford

MVP: Matt Ryan

OPOY: Matt Ryan

DPOY: Desmond Trufant

ROY: Deion Jones

I was hoping to go against the grain and find some other players to talk about, but Matt Ryan having a blistering first quarter and Trufant’s relative excellence against a strong group of WR1s makes this a pretty easy selection. I have no doubt that the additions of Mack, Robinson, Gabriel, and Sanu have afforded Matt something he has never had, which is a threat from WR1 to WR5 on any given play. Some credit must also be given to Kyle Shanahan, as the game plans and play calling have largely been masterful, but it’s no surprise that the offense takes another step forward when Matty takes charge. No doubt he, along with Quinn and the GM crew, have quietly assembled what might be the best offense in football. We’ll see.

It’s hard to appreciate Trufant’s greatness. His efforts were hampered a little with the CAR game, but his role as “WR1 Trap” is as underappreciated as it gets. Eventually, I think he’ll get the Nnamdi Asomugha treatment, where people just appreciate him in spite of the relative lack of INTs. Deion Jones at one point lead all rookies in tackling and had a nice pick-six in his homecoming to New Orleans. For a rookie, he looks like he belongs out there. He’s made a few mental mistakes here and there but it’s clear why Dan Quinn wanted him on the team. He’ll be good sooner rather than later.

Torgo

MVP: Matt Ryan

Offensive Player of the Year: Julio Jones

Defensive Player of the Year: Desmond Trufant

Rookie of the Year: Deion Jones

Matt Ryan took it upon himself to get a headstart with Shanahan’s offense this season, covering the expenses to bring many of his teammates to Florida for a players-only minicamp. That’s a true MVP, and this week’s 503-yard, 4 touchdown performance is the result of that level of dedication and leadership.

Add one more award: Brian Poole as Unsung Hero. Deion Jones may end up as rookie of the year league-wide, so he’s certainly the team’s ROY. But Poole has held his own in the nickel package. With Akeem King hurt and Jalen Collins suspended, the Falcons needed someone to step up, and the undrafted rookie Poole delivered.

Kendall Jackson

MVP: Matt Ryan

Offensive Player of the Year: Julio Jones

Defensive Player of the Year: Deion Jones

Rookie of the Year: Deion Jones

Ryan is off to a scorching start and is undoubtedly the league’s MVP at the quarter point of the season. He looks like a completely different quarterback in his second year in Kyle Shanahan’s system as he’s getting everyone involved on offense. After a slow start (by his standards, at least) Julio Jones reminded everyone why he’s an elite receiver with his 300-yard performance last Sunday. Deion Jones, the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Month, is having a stellar first year, and looks to be a force in the middle for the Falcons for quite some time.

Kevin Knight

MVP: Matt Ryan

Offensive Player of the Year: Julio Jones

Defensive Player of the Year: Desmond Trufant

Rookie of the Year: Deion Jones

What a surprising start to the season for this team. You have to give Matt Ryan the ultimate props, as he’s not only playing at a Falcons MVP level, he’s playing at a league MVP level. Couple that with the performance of Julio Jones, who just unleashed hell on an unprepared Panthers team to the tune of 300 yards, and you have the top offense in the league. Let’s hope they keep it up.

On the defensive side of the ball, you have to give Desmond Trufant a ton of credit. With very little pass rush to speak of, Trufant is still able to lock up #1 WRs with relative ease. After a tough game against Mike Evans in Week 1, Trufant has shut down the likes of Amari Cooper, Brandin Cooks, and Kelvin Benjamin in successive weeks. Our top rookie has undoubtedly been Deion Jones, who has burst onto the scene by showcasing his incredible athleticism and physicality. Expect great things this season and in the future from the exciting LB.

Matt Chambers

MVP: Alex Mack

Offensive Player of the Year: Matt Ryan

Defensive Player of the Year: Deion Jones

Rookie of the Year: Austin Hooper

I tried to switch up my awards but still can’t get away from acknowledging Matt Ryan and Deion Jones. Ryan is eliteing all over the place, and Jones is already Atlanta’s most impactful defensive player. Who else? The guy I thought Atlanta overpaid has done everything even the most optimistic Falcons fan could imagine. Mack is a beast and has been the reason the offensive line has taken a major stride from their shaky 2015 season. Sure, not being Mike Person helps a lot, but he’s helped turn around the entire offense. Another major improvement? The surprising blocking and ridiculous 28 yards per catch Austin Hooper has delivered. Tight ends usually have one huge learning curve, but Hooper is already outperforming his draft slot. In fact, he’s projected to beat Levine Toilolo’s career yardage in just his rookie season as the backup tight end.

Kyle McClendon

MVP: Matt Ryan

Offensive Player of the Year: Julio Jones (Note: Alex Mack comes in close 2nd place)

Defensive Player of the Year: Deion Jones

Rookie of the Year: Deion Jones

I know my award-takes probably aren’t as hot as most people would like, but the choices are actually pretty easy thus far. Matt Ryan looks as confident and comfortable as we have seen him in a long while and the offense has looked unstoppable. Julio Jones opens up the offense even when he isn’t catching passes (see New Orleans game), and still has the ability to take over a game at a moment's notice. Now, I think Alex Mack is a big reason for Matt Ryan’s newfound confidence and comfort, so he was very close to being my offensive player of the year, but the offense would be a lot more pedestrian if Julio wasn’t around.

The defensive player/rookie of the year award was a pretty easy one. Deion Jones is routinely one of the first guys to the ball and while Hooper and Poole have had their moments, Jones is the most consistent and has the most responsibility out of all of the rookies thus far. Not to mention, Jones has had two huge plays in the Falcons last two divisional games: a pick-six on Drew Brees in week three and then the trucking of Cam Newton this past week.