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Falcons vs. Jaguars: Hat Tips & Head-Scratchers

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Atlanta’s second half ascendance continued against Jacksonville.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Outside of the first few minutes, the Falcons game against the Jaguars was somewhat of a snoozer — in the best of ways. Atlanta was in control in all phases throughout the entirety, besting Jacksonville at home and moving to 6-9 on the season.

Here’s what we liked and what we didn’t from Sunday’s game.

Hat Tips

The opening drive

The Falcons haven’t scored an opening drive touchdown since Week 6 against the Cardinals, so a smooth six on their first possession was well overdue. Aside from being a longtime coming, it was also their strongest opening drive all season.

It featured heavy doses of Devonta Freeman on the ground and through the air, culminating in a Matt Ryan flip to the Atlanta running back and a 17 yard run for the score. It was clean, effective, and what the Falcons should have been doing all year long. It’s maddening to think where’d they stand if they had.

Devonta Freeman

For a variety of reasons, 2019 hasn’t been Devonta Freeman’s year. A combination of injury, sketchy offensive line play, and Dirk Koetter’s calls have certainly limited his impact, but there’s also been games where he just doesn’t look like himself.

This was not one of those games.

As our own Evan Birchfield astutely noted, the Jags have been big-time bad against running backs over the last four games. Freeman made the most of that presumptive mismatch, darting for a 17-yard rushing touchdown on Atlanta’s first possession and taking a Matt Ryan pass for another score on the next drive.

Devonta Freeman finished the contest with 13 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown, along with nine receptions for 74 yards and a score.

Julio reaches 12,000 yards receiving

Julio Jones plays most games so quietly well that before you know it he’s eclipsed 100 yards. We’ve become spoiled by how downright incredible he is. He did his usual Julio thing against the Jaguars, notching 10 receptions for 166 yards.

And as he went about his typical business, he hit a monumental milestone by reaching 12,000 receiving yards, becoming the fastest in NFL history to hit reach that mark.

Deion Jones breaks up the pass

Deion Jones is potentially heading to his second Pro Bowl, and plays like the one he made in the first quarter are proof positive as to why. With the Jaguars facing a third-and-four, quarterback Gardner Minshew found wide receiver Dede Westbrook over the middle for the would-be conversion.

Westbrook would bobble but appear to recover until Deion Jones flew in to knock the ball away. That kind of speed and awareness is what differentiates Deion from his fellow linebackers, and he’s deserving of a Pro Bowl nod.

Head-Scratchers

Matt Ryan’s first pick

This was one of those pull-your-hair-out Matt Ryan decisions that he’s prone to making from time to time. At the start of the second quarter and the Falcons on their own 33-yard-line, Ryan zeroed in on a double-covered Julio Jones for a deep ball down the sideline. He was promptly intercepted by Jaguars corner Tre Herndon.

With Atlanta already up 14-0, it was a blown chance to potentially put the Jaguars in a deep hole in the first half. Ryan is the sturdy hand that guides the offense, but his tendency to develop tunnel vision is one of the more frustrating aspects of his game.

The touchdown to Chris Conley

Blidi Wreh-Wilson has played extremely well, but he was absolutely roasted on this play. Biting on a double move by Chris Conley, he would helplessly trail the Jags receiver as he caught the long pass from Gardner Minshew for the touchdown. Fortunately for the Falcons, it would be the last time the Jaguars would add to their scoring tally.