Before I say anything else, I don’t want to get too excited over this win. Yes, it was a blowout on the road. Yes, it was done without having the team’s top two receivers. However, the Rams are a very, very bad team so I’d caution that it’s just one game, and not necessarily indicative of what can be done every week - at least in 2016. That said, here are some takeaways I do think are safe to make.
Youth are difference makers
While most fans are concerned about the 2016 season, for me the focus goes well beyond that, which is why I feel very encouraged by what we saw against the Rams. Vic Beasley has obviously taken a big step forward this year, turning into a very good pass rusher who has an incredible propensity for forcing fumbles. This may have been his most dominant performance so far, and he has been trending positively all year. That said, he’s not the only young guy making strides, which is encouraging for this team’s long-term success.
Deion Jones had a great game, excelling in coverage and netting yet another pick six. Taylor Gabriel continued his “LOL Browns” tour, netting yet another deep pass for a touchdown. Even obscure names like Deji Olatoye stepped in and played well, though going against the Rams offense helps everyone.
The bottom line: young guys were difference makers on Sunday. It doesn’t happen in every game, but it’s happening enough that it certainly looks like the building blocks are there for the future.
Surviving without Julio
Ultimately, the Falcons offense is at it’s best when Julio Jones is on the field. He doesn’t even have to be personally dominating to make an impact, as opposing defenses normally sell out to stop him, giving better opportunities to other guys.
On Sunday though, the Falcons found a way to score 28 offensive points in 3 quarters without him or Mohamed Sanu. It’s not a recipe we want to lean on too much, but it is an encouraging sign that this offense has developed far better depth than it has had in recent years. In the past, losing Julio for a game was a virtual guarantee that the offense wouldn’t score. Now, at least, the offense is capable of leaning on it’s depth to put up a significant amount of points, even if they were gifted good field position in several cases.
The right kind of win
In the past, this was the kind of game the Falcons would “play down” to. We’ve all seen it enough times that many of us felt skeptical about this game, especially with the number of injuries the Falcons have. That said, this Falcons team - even with many players missing - did not let that happen. They dominated a team they should have dominated, and it’s hard to complain about that.
Truth be told: this team has been in almost every single game this year, and could quite honestly be sitting at 10 or 11 wins minus a single play in almost any of our losses. While some fans are frustrated by that fact, it indicates that this team is far more competitive than in year’s past. And now, we’re seeing the Falcons whip bad teams (Cardinals by 19, Rams by 28) in recent weeks. It’s a positive sign for the mentality of this team, and is a nice departure from what we’ve all gotten used to.
What are your takeaways from the thrashing of the Rams?