CAR-ATL grade: Huge numbers from WR Julio Jones in Falcons’ win

Highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Falcons' NFC South win over the Panthers.

| 9 months ago
Falcons WR Julio Jones

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

CAR-ATL grade: Huge numbers from WR Julio Jones in Falcons’ win

Atlanta Falcons 48, Carolina Panthers 33

Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from the Falcons’ 48-33 home win over the Panthers.

Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton unable to get Panthers going

Quarterback grades: Cam Newton, 46.6, and Derek Anderson, 52.2

Cam Newton is now 0-2 over his last two visits to the Georgia Dome, with an inaccurate display that suggested all was not right with the Panthers’ quarterback. Outside of one laser to beat CB Desmond Trufant’s tight coverage for a touchdown, Newton failed to challenge the Falcons’ coverage units, looking particularly rattled when pressured. Under pressure, he completed just two passes on seven attempts with one sack. Anderson did inject a sense of urgency into the offense, but ultimately lofted a ball over the head of TE Greg Olsen that would have been the game-ender.

Cam Newton passing under pressure versus Falcons

Cam Newton vs pressure

Top Offensive Grades

TE Greg Olsen, 80.7

C Ryan Kalil, 79.8

LG Andrew Norwell, 78.8

RT Daryl Williams, 72.4

WR Kelvin Benjamin, 71.6

Too little, too late as Panthers struggle to get going up front

It took the Falcons taking their foot of the gas and playing soft, but the Panthers’ offense can at least head out of this game with some momentum. It was spearheaded by Olsen, who worked over rookie Keanu Neal in the fourth quarter, with his spectacular one-handed grab a bright spot on an otherwise dreary day for Carolina. The reshaping of the offensive line did not go well, with Mike Remmers (39.6) having a really rough day (one sack, two hits, three hurries, and three penalties surrendered).

Top Defensive Grades

LB Shaq Thompson, 94.8

LB Luke Kuechly, 91.1

LB Thomas Davis, 80.7

DT Kawaan Short, 78.3

S Tre Boston, 74.6

Linebackers do their jobs, but cornerbacks can’t

It’s no surprise that not a single secondary player who featured for more than 23 snaps made this list. The bright side, though, was the play of the Carolina linebackers, especially the ultra-aggressive Thompson, who has the kind of explosiveness to really wreak havoc. He ended the day with five defensive stops, two fewer than the ever-excellent Kuechly, but on 15 fewer snaps. The less said about the cornerbacks, the better; they did make some plays, but ultimately were all tested, and none of them passed.

Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan flips script from MNF to post career day

Quarterback grade: Matt Ryan, 87.9

It’s not that Matt Ryan was bad against the Saints this past Monday, but rather that he took what the defense gave him, while his accuracy was just a fraction off. In Week 4, however, he didn’t take what was given to him, instead opting to relentlessly attack the Panthers’ young cornerback group. Ryan threw further than 10 yards downfield 16 times after coming into the game averaging just 12.3 deep and intermediate shots per game. The results were astounding, with a 503-yard day; even more impressive, his receivers held onto everything (zero drops).

Matt Ryan passing under pressure

Top Offensive Grades

WR Julio Jones, 99.1

QB Matt Ryan, 87.9

LG Andy Levitre, 78.7

RT Ryan Schraeder, 74.5

FB Patrick DiMarco, 73.9

Where else can we look but to the monumental day of Julio Jones? Jones joined illustrious company with a 300-yard day that saw him win deep, win on crossers, win after the catch, and well, you get the point. It didn’t matter who was covering him, as he caught 12 of 14 balls, with Bené Benwikere the unlucky defensive back who drew his coverage most of the game. You can get bet when these two teams meet again that Jones will have more attention come his way.

Top Defensive Grades

LB Deion Jones, 84.5

CB Brian Poole, 83.8

CB Robert Alford, 80.9

CB Desmond Trufant, 78.7

DE Dwight Freeney, 77.3

The Falcons must be happy to see the play of Deion Jones, who, while not perfect, has come in and added some much needed speed and a smattering of aggression to their linebacker unit. He led the team with four defensive stops. In the defensive backfield, the corners really stepped up, and while they all left plays on the field, they all more than made up for it with the ones they made. Their combined stat line impressive; on 21 targets into their coverage, they surrendered 11 catches for 146 yards, two touchdowns, grabbed two interceptions, and added four further pass break ups. One last special mention for Dwight Freeney and his spin move: it still works, and if you don’t believe us, ask Mike Remmers, who was embarrassed by it on three occasions.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Falcons WR Julio Jones

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  • crosseyedlemon

    I wonder if the guy who convinced the Panther’s owner to cut Josh Norman loose will be asking for a raise and promotion after this game.

  • FireGMDG

    Impressive that Gettleman dismantled a Super Bowl caliber team in just one off-season. The Norman debacle is a fireable offense and so was ignoring the offensive line yet again.

    • Joe Doe

      It’s one thing if you have another corner that can shoulder some of that burden, but they don’t. They let him walk and then spent most their draft trying to replace him. Considering corners are a position that has one of the steepest learning curves, in hindsight this appears to be very poorly handled.

      • FireGMDG

        They thought Benwikere could replace him, nevermind that he played slot his entire career. Just an idiotic move on Gettleman’s part. Then they spend a first round pick on another DT and waste all of their other picks trying to replace Norman while doing jack squat about the offensive line that has gotten Cam killed this year. Botched what should have been an easy off-season.

      • DoubleTTB22

        To be fair Bradberry was out most of the game. And the secondary wasn’t a problem the last 3 games, even against Emmanuel Sanders and Steffon Diggs.

        • Izach

          That’s not true, CARs biggest issues all season have been secondary and OL, their issues are entirely related to poor DB play (coverage and tackling) and poor OL play (poor protection for cam and no room to run).
          Julio went for 300 of Matt ryan’s 500 yards with Norman Julio is eliminated.

          • Juuuuuullllliiiiiiiiooooooo

            Julio eliminated? Lol no, You do know that Julio went for 178 on 9 catches week 16 last year while Norman was still apart of that team right? You cannot stop that man, but only hope to contain him.

          • Izach

            Julio averaged less than 6catches and 80yards in 2014 and 2015 with NO TDs when Norman was on him. The one game you mention Julio had a 70yard bomb for a TD on a safety and luke kechuley.

          • DoubleTTB22

            That is definitely the perspective of someone who doesn’t actually watch Carolina games. The Panthers gave up the 3rd least yards to receivers going into week four. Thinking that secondary has been our issue all season is pure ignorance.

          • Izach

            You may not have read my entire comment DBs are a weakness, coverage by the LBs has been great, and in case you missed a few panthers games the DBs are the one missing tackles and extending drives literally the Broncos games 4 missed tackles by DBs was the difference in that game,

            The secondary is a problem, combined with poor OL play, no way around it, you can skate around it any way you’d like but the Carolina DBs are a huge issue. The lack of giving up passing yards can be more attributed to playing Trevor siemian (an UD 2 me year player) blanie gabbert (a historical bust) and sam Bradford (another historical bust who had only been on the team for 4 weeks). And again the DL and LBs have bee very good the DBs have failed in their jobs overall.

          • DoubleTTB22

            The Db’s weren’t bad in coverage the first 3 games is my point. Actually the LB, (despite their reputation) have under performed in this regard against the VIkings in the second half. Trevor Siemian carved up the Bengals a few weeks later. Bradford has never been a bust because of lack of skill. The reason he isn’t in St Louis is because of injuries, plus the Eagles seeing the opportunity to grab a much younger QB of the future who is probably more durable (keep in mind that they had thought that Bradford was the best option at QB, even with how good Wentz has been, and had planned for him to start while Wentz would learn for at least a year. The only reason they traded Bradford is because they had given up so many picks to get Wentz and it was a good opportunity for a rebuilding franchise.) and Bradford has also never played on an offense with the talent he has around him now. He had just finished having a great game against GB and Stefon Diggs came into the game leading the league in reception yards.

            I don’t think that the secondary is great but it wasn’t the problem in the first 3 games. While they did miss tackles against Denver, the entire run defense was abnormally poor that game. Including the linebackers and D-line. The only reason why the secondary was in position for so many of those tackles in the first place was because of poor play from the rest of the run D letting them easily get to the second level (although the run D has probably been the best part of the team in the following 3 games).

            The DL hasn’t been that good in the passing game all year. They have struggled when it comes to getting consistent pressure all season and Kwann Short has under performed in this regard. Every third and long play that the Falcons had (and their were a lot of them later in that game) , they gave Matt Ryan all day to throw.

          • Izach

            The DBs were bad tho, an Sam Bradford is considered a bust (albeit it is due to injuries and inconsistency not lack of talent), also those first 3 games were very run heavy teams that only throw when they have too, so scheme dictates lack passing yards in those games. The coverage has been subpar to say the least, and it primarily on the DBs, the LBs have actually been very good still despite lack of quality defense around them, Shaq is finally getting it to go along with Luke and Thomas.

            That broncos game was bad by the DBs on the two biggest run plays the TD a safety couldn’t locate the ball and on CB andersons big run the DB missed a tackle. Not to mention two dump off passes that abDB was in primary coverage on the RB that both converted for 1st downs. it’s the little plays that makes the huge difference. And that’s were “being cheap” comes back to bite them eventually.

            yes the panthers have issues elsewhere but the biggest one on defense is the DBs, they may need another pass rusher but they need multiple upgrades in the secondary more.

    • SeattleSteve

      Salary Cap, Norman is in his late 20s and asking to be the highest paid corner… Nah, just look at the Jets paying Revis all that money and they’re getting lit up. It’s better to spend that money on Cam, Luke and Short. Try to find some new corners, DEs and OTs in the next year or so.

      • crosseyedlemon

        The problem is that if the other players see that the front office won’t reward top performers like Norman, morale takes a nose dive. You are not going to get players to play their hearts out for an owner who they suspect will cut them off at the knees simply to save some bucks.

        • DoubleTTB22

          Cam and Luke both have gotten big contracts from Gettleman already. ANd anyways if players want a big contract, they wouldn’t start playing worse. They would get it somewhere, even not with the Panthers.

          Naah, the Panthers troubles aren’t that simple to explain.

        • Izach

          While I agree there is some questioning by players the other guy is right players will still play but maybe won’t consider resigning later with the lack of loyalty.

      • Izach

        The issue is timing, pay Norman now and have another SB run or risk having to take a few years (wasting the best players prime) to find a replacement, they’ve done this multiple times now with DBs and it just finally caught up with them, imagine this defense with Norman, Capt.Muneryln, and mike Mitchell still. I don’t blame them for making those moves has it worked the first 2 times but eventually is comes back.