ReFo: SL @ ATL, Week 2
Atlanta stuck to its M.O. against St. Louis, starting strong initially before tailing off in the second half. With an injury to Steven Jackson, the Falcons focused on attacking the Rams through the air and Julio Jones in particular proved difficult to cover. Roddy White was also limited to 34 snaps meaning Atlanta increasingly relied on the steady Harry Douglas. Considering the Rams’ strength is their line, they’ll be disappointed they were only able to pressure Matt Ryan on 14 of 45 drop backs. Against a QB of Ryan’s quality expect a long day if you’re not able to get bodies around him.
On the other side, Sam Bradford just fails to excite. He rarely takes chances downfield and is often content to just check it down or throw short crossing routes. Perhaps it’s unsurprising seeing as Bradford rarely has success on deeper throws but he’s at least got to try to stretch the field. The former first overall pick was kept even cleaner than his counterpart as the Rams’ offensive line surrendered pressure on just 15 of 57 dropbacks. Although they didn’t have quite as strong a performance in the run game, it was still good overall and Daryl Richardson had some room on the ground. On the other side, it was a boom or bust game for Atlanta defenders. They had six players grade in the red (-1.0 or worse) and five in the green (+1.0 or better). Let’s get into some individual performances.
St Louis – Three Performances of Note
Return on Their Investment
The Rams gave Jake Long (+3.7) a lot of money to be their franchise left tackle and he was close to his best Sunday. Lined up consistently against Osi Umenyiora, he gave just a pair of hurries and graded in the green in the run game. He conceded both of those hurries to the former Giant and had another negated by penalty. The lowlight was being beaten by a speed rush on 3rd-and-20 in the third quarter (10:39) but overall allowing only those hurries on 60 drop-backs is a good day. In the run game, Long had most of his success on down blocks. Cliff Matthews in particular couldn’t handle Long’s power on such plays. He also graded positively a couple of times on Sean Weatherspoon on a couple of occasions, showing the mobility to get to the second level. Good start to the season for Long who’s now ranked 15th overall with a pass blocking efficiency of 94.5.
Robert Quinn almost matched the heights of his Week 1 performance with a complete display that saw him gain a +9.4 grade. Sam Baker ended up on his back a number of times as Quinn’s bullrush was just too much for him to handle. He didn’t only beat him with power moves though, as Quinn displayed his whole pass rush repertoire. Quinn recorded three hits and five hurries in just 36 rushes against Baker, and added a clean-up sack and hit. He was simply too quick for Atlanta blockers in the run game, getting into the backfield consistently. Despite playing just 15 run snaps, he had a pair of defensive stops. Quinn beat Baker for one and Tony Gonzalez for another. Check out the speed with which he beats Baker at 10:47 in the first quarter to get his tackle for no gain. Quinn currently leads all 4-3 defensive ends with a Pass Rush Productivity of 17.3.
Difficult Day for the Corners
Cortland Finnegan (-3.3) and Janoris Jenkins (+0.8) had a difficult day against the Falcons. They combined to miss four of ten tackles with Jenkins being the biggest culprit. He just couldn’t handle Julio Jones’ elusiveness and allowed an 81-yard touchdown where he was too aggressive playing the out, allowing the Falcon to get behind him. He subsequently missed the tackle and Jones was off to the races. It wasn’t all bad though, as Jenkins did have an impressive pass deflection and close coverage forcing an incompletion on another play. Finnegan, meanwhile, allowed all four targets to be completed for 60 total yards. He also missed a tackle and horribly overpursued in the run game.
Atlanta – Three Performances of Note
Garrett Reynolds (+2.8) had a steady start to the season in 2012 before injuries took him off the field. He’s been even better at the start of 2013. Against the Rams, he allowed just the solitary hit in 47 drop-backs and had the best grade of all offensive lineman in the run game (tied with Lamar Holmes). Reynolds gave up the aforementioned hit to Kendall Langford who made a good outside move in the second quarter. In the run game, check out the crushing block he delivers to Michael Brockers with 6:22 to play in the second quarter. He comes across the formation on a trap and decleats the former LSU product. Reynolds made another nice block pulling to the right later in the game as well. His main mistake was a holding penalty and he can consider himself a little unlucky as the Falcon runner unexpectedly bounced outside. Reynolds now sits second in our guard rankings.
Tricky Day for the Tight Ends
Tony Gonzalez (-2.1) and Levine Toilolo (-1.4) did little to help the Falcons’ offense Sunday. The normally excellent Gonzalez was quiet in the passing game, catching just four of seven passes for 33 yards. He also committed the most blatant pass interference you’ll likely ever see as T.J. McDonald blanketed him. It was their run blocking that really let them down though. Gonzalez rarely looks interested in helping with the ground game as he gave up a couple of defensive stops. Toilolo was only on the field for seven snaps but gave up a defensive stop and was beaten outside ruining an off-tackle run.
Rookie Corner Update
Asante Samuel could manage only six snaps against the Rams so rookie Robert Alford (-2.0) was forced into action alongside Desmond Trufant (–0.1). After a good debut, Alford struggled a little with St. Louis’ receivers. Overall, he gave up four of five targets for 48 yards and a touchdown. That culminated in a 146.3 QB rating. All four of the receptions also resulted in first downs. Trufant, meanwhile, gave up just two of five targets for 19 yards and a pass deflection. However, he benefited from Jared Cook slipping at the pivotal moment on a deep pass and had a pass interference penalty when he grabbed Austin Pettis running a slant.
– Eugene Sims had a pair of defensive stops in the run game despite facing just five snaps.
– Rookie LB Joplu Bartu had a +1.3 grade in his first NFL start.
– It wasn’t such a good day for DE Maliciah Goodman (-3.2).
PFF Game Ball
No one came close to Robert Quinn who’s off to a phenomenal start to the season.
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