After every single game, there are players who help both their reputations and outlooks based on their performances. These players may not be fighting for roster spots any longer, but they are fighting for Falcons wins, recognition, and maybe some gaudy stat lines.
Let’s take a closer look at who is up and who is down in this week’s report.
The second year tight end only pulled in two receptions, but they went for a combined 128 yards and a touchdown, and the breakout season everyone predicted for him is looking like it’ll be a reality. Hooper’s simply too fast and and genuinely too physical (that pretty stiff arm!) to be held in check for entire games, so while his target load might be sparse, he’ll do great things with the balls that get thrown his way.
Campbell was a force to be reckoned with, piling up five stops, a pass breakup, and generally looking every bit as good as he’s proclaimed himself capable of being. He was especially good against the run, which matters for a team that isn’t yet assured of being anything close to an elite run stopping unit. Given his talent and outlook, it’s still kind of astonishing the Falcons were able to scoop him up in the fourth round.
It hasn’t been a storybook stint in Atlanta for Brooks Reed, but no matter what he does the rest of the way, we’ll always have Chicago. Reed had a very good game marred by one failure to contain, but he more than made up for it with two sacks, including that last one to, you know, seal the victory.
I feel like Alford doesn’t get his due enough, but he was terrific in this game even though he had very little in the way of challenging wide receivers to cover. The penalties grate but the play rarely does.
He was the worst player on the field this week, probably, for Atlanta. I think Schweitzer made some major strides over the offseason and certainly will be better than this going forward, but there are some tough interior linemen on the docket coming up, and the Falcons really would prefer he wasn’t allowing so much pressure down the line. If he’s objectively the worst player on offense again this week, that’s going to be a problem for Atlanta.
The lack of opportunity matters here. Hooper looks very good and is going to be one of the team’s better receiving options, which means while Toilolo will be sidelined in the passing game. If Eric Saubert gets up to speed any time soon, he’ll likely be phased out even further, and used primarily as a blocking option. At least he’s good at that!
This one’s based purely on opportunity, as well, as McKinley played well in just over a dozen snaps. He just doesn’t appear to be a major part of the rotation just yet, and with Dan Quinn talking about easing him in, there’s a good chance he won’t be a major factor until after the bye. That’s frustrating for everyone who wants to see Takk attack, but the team has so many quality defensive ends they can afford to do this.