We know how the Falcons are doing, but how are former Falcons doing? I know there’s considerable interest in this fanbase not just in how former franchise greats like Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are faring, but also players like John Cominsky and Foye Oluokun who appear to be thriving elsewhere in the early going. Why not check on those guys, then?
Here, we’ll take a look at some of Atlanta’s notable 2022 free agents (and one noteworthy trade) and how they’re faring with their new teams.
QB Matt Ryan
We don’t need to re-hash everything that landed Ryan in Indianapolis, but suffice to say the team punched his ticket out of town as soon as they eyed a trade for another quarterback. This was viewed as a quality landing spot for Ryan, one he coveted, owing to some of the weapons on hand, the quality defense, and a stronger offensive line.
Thus far, it hasn’t worked out that way. Ryan has thrown some brutal interceptions—he has four in two games—and has also been undone by unexpectedly poor protection and receivers failing to get open, which doesn’t sound familiar at all. The Colts are 0-1-1 and looking extremely shaky, and unfortunately a landing spot all parties seemed happy with isn’t looking like a great one in practice through two weeks.
WR Julio Jones
Unfortunately, this season is unfolding much the same way as previous ones for Julio, who landed in Tampa Bay with dumb old Tom Brady (I’m editorializing!) and the Buccaneers. In the first week of the season, Julio looked like Julio en route to three grabs and a nice 69 yards, but he missed Week 2 with an injury. He has appeared in just 20 of a possible 35 games dating back to the beginning of the 2020 season, and while his talent has not wanted, we’ll have to see if he can buck recent trends and play most of the season for the Bucs.
WR Russell Gage
Gage has also been dealing with some injury, and he’s off to a quiet start in Tampa Bay despite playing in two weeks. Last year’s most productive wide receiver in a decimated corps in Atlanta, Gage has seven catches for 41 yards, or 5.9 yards per reception, as Brady prioritizes him on short routes. Chances are that production will pick up as the season goes on.
TE Hayden Hurst
Hurst was a popular sleeper in Atlanta after the team traded a second round pick for him, but outside of stretches he never really wound up realizing that promise for the Falcons. In Cincinnati, the passing game is an absolute mess, but Hurst is a favored target early on with five catches in each of his past two games for a combined 70 yards. Once Joe Burrow and company settle in, he might be headed for some big days.
LB Foye Oluokun
Off to a quality start in Jacksonville, Oluokun is thus far not struggling with any of the aspects that marred a very productive 2021 campaign in Atlanta. He’s been pretty stingy in coverage, has yet to miss a tackle, and was a key part of Jacksonville’s slowing down of Jonathan Taylor last Sunday. He has 14 tackles, a pass deflection, and a fumble recovery thus far, and looks like he’ll settle in to be one Jacksonville’s most useful defenders in 2022.
DL John Cominsky
His Atlanta career was profoundly weird, as he was moved from defensive tackle to outside linebacker and frequently inactive in 2021, but perhaps he just needed an opportunity. Like Charles Harris before him, Cominsky has found more success in Detroit, picking up a sack and several pressures as a key reserve for the Lions.
RB Mike Davis
As a reserve in Baltimore, Davis has gotten sparing work, carrying the ball seven times for 15 yards thus far in 2022. He’ll have a bigger role if injuries crop up again for the Ravens.
OLB Dante Fowler Jr.
Like Cominsky, Fowler appears to be finding more success early on outside of Atlanta. He already has one sack on the year after combining for just 7.5 with the Falcons in 2020 and 2021, and per Pro Football Reference he’s already one third of the way to his 2021 pressure total.
OLB Steven Means
Means was Dean Pees’ rock in 2021, playing most of the defensive snaps as a durable and consistent (if not very high upside) outside linebacker for Atlanta. He landed in a familiar spot in Baltimore this offseason, but sadly the veteran suffered a torn Achilles in Week 2 and will miss the rest of the season. We wish him well on his recovery.
P Thomas Morstead
As you’d expected, Morstead is doing solid work in Miami as a punter, averaging just over 44 yards per attempt. Miami’s bonkers passing output last week didn’t give him much to do, but he’s one of the more reliable options in the NFL.
LS Josh Harris
The man still long snaps like nobody’s business.