The Falcons are only heading into their second week of the 2018 NFL season, but it feels like this season has gone on much longer. That’s what happens when you drop your first game in painful fashion, I guess, but it feels like the pressure is on any number of Falcons to perform already.
But for all the grim performances from that Eagles game, there were players who played well, or at least can confidently say their arrows are pointing up against Carolina this week. Let’s talk a little bit more about that right now.
Here’s our stock up and stock down report for six players. Let’s hear yours in the comments.
S Damontae Kazee
Nobody’s stepping into this week with a bigger opportunity or more to prove than Kazee, who must fill Keanu Neal’s angry spiked shoes. He may or may not actually play strong safety full-time, but he’ll be a starter either way.
Kazee’s been so good through preseason and his first NFL game that it can be hard to tamp down on the hype, but he looks like a solid starter at the very least.
RB Tevin Coleman
If the Falcons would like to ride the hot hand, I assume they’ll go with Coleman this week. It’s not that his stat line was particularly impressive, all told, but he had the game’s sole touchdown on a very impressive run, picked up a great catch early in the game, wriggled free (a moment too late) on the final play of the game, and didn’t have the pass protection problems, however limited, that plagued Devonta Freeman against the Eagles. With a physical Carolina defense coming up, Coleman’s speed should play well, and I expect a big game from him.
WR Julio Jones
Julio just stomped the Eagles, and he’s spent the last few seasons running all over the Panthers. Does that mean Carolina will put all their energy toward stopping him and succeed? Well...no.
Julio dominated against the Eagles partly because the Falcons were willing to force-feed him, but also because even a quality cornerback like Ronald Darby simply can’t keep up with him all the time. The Panthers don’t even have the caliber of options Philadelphia brought to bear—though James Bradberry is improving—and Julio should once again get all the targets he can handle. He’s headed for a great season.
QB Matt Ryan
It’s hard to imagine a worse first outing for Ryan, and the Eagles game will likely go down as one of the worst efforts of his entire career. He was sailing throws, tossing lobs, and looking skittish in the pocket throughout much of the game, and it translated to a zero touchdown day for him with an interception and some very ugly plays. He’ll be looking to prove that was a fluke, as most of us think it was, but until he does we’ll be a little wary.
WR Calvin Ridley
Ridley’s just a rookie and it’s not worth putting a ton of pressure on him this early, so I’ll just say his first effort was a bit of a dud. Ridley was on the field for close to 75% of all offensive snaps but received just two targets and didn’t come away with either of them, and was a quiet presence on special teams as well. There are better—and perhaps even great—days in store for him, but he’ll head into his second game looking to rebound.
DE Vic Beasley
I love Vic, but this was not his finest effort, and concerns about his viability as one of a team’s best pass rushers will just continue to pile up. He was dropped back into coverage on third and long against the Eagles, for some reason, and both missed a tackle and didn’t register a sack. He did not, from my viewing of the game, bring a ton of pressure to bear, either.
This is a critical year for Vic, who should be heading for a big contract extension after his fifth year option in 2019, but has one elite season of production and some high quality stretches of play to his name to this point. With Takk looking very good, the onus is on Beasley to start making some noise.