ReFo: SL @ ATL, Week 2

The Falcons beat the Rams in a tight game on Sunday though it was a Ram who had a standout performance and received John Breitenbach's PFF Game Ball.

| 4 years ago

ReFo: SL @ ATL, Week 2

2013 REFO STL@ATL WK2Atlanta 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.

Quality Quinn

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

Reynolds’ Development

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.

Game Notes

– 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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John joined the PFF team in 2008, providing focused analysis on the NFL draft, team-building strategies, and positional value.

  • infemous

    “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 bias against Sam Bradford remains strong. PFF, you do a great job, but you have a tendency to make it far too obvious which players you like and which players you don’t.
    After a great performance vs the Cardinals you do not mention Bradford and after a good performance you only mention him to dump on him.

    How many deep throws he makes or the amount of crossing routes he hits MAY have something to do with the playcalling, don’t you think?

    Sam Bradford hits the open man and that is not a bad thing. His downfield accuracy when he throws it is good too.

    Did you see on the All 22 footage that there were ample opportunities to beat the Falcons deep which Bradford ignored to hit the dump off or was the above comment another case of anti-Bradford bias?

    • Luck12

      then enjoy captain checkdown for the next half decade.

      • infemous

        What makes a checkdown from Matt Ryan, Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Colin Kaepernick and Sam Bradford different?

        The answer seems to be that when Bradford does it, its not ‘exciting’ while when the others do it, it is.

        The logic is unquestionably stupid and stuck in personal bias.

        A checkdown is a checkdown, it is what it is. It moves the ball downfield and limits turnovers. Whether the checkdown is forced by play design or great coverage it doesn’t matter, as long as the QB makes the big play when its available. Bradford has done a decent job thus far, and considering his situation in comparison to most QBs in the league, decent is better than you’d expect.

        • bobrulz

          I don’t really understand why you consider him passing up on the deep ball for checkdowns time after time a good thing. Yes, he’s accurate on these routes and he’s improving, but to be a true difference-making quarterback, you need to be willing and able to take those shots, which Bradford hasn’t shown. It’s true that some of it certainly has to do with the playcalling. He’s never had a truly imaginative or exciting offensive coordinator, and Jeff Fisher has a tendency to be maddeningly conservative. But at some point some of that has to be placed on the quarterback. Being good on short throws isn’t a bad thing, but he’s in danger of becoming Alex Smith 2.0 (well, with more natural ability at least). It would be nice to see him become a truly difference-making quarterback, because the potential is there. That’s the difference between Bradford and the quarterbacks you mentioned (and, well, in the case of Kaepernick, maybe he should take the checkdown a little more often).

          • nogoodnamesleft90210

            “But at some point some of that has to be placed on the quarterback.”

            This is true, however I don’t think PFF (or anyone outside the Rams) is really qualified to make this determination without:
            1) Watching the All-22 to see if guys were actually open downfield.
            2) Knowing the play call and progressions that Bradford has been given (obviously only the coaches and Bradford himself know this).

            I believe PFF uses the standard TV broadcast to chart games. I’m not sure how it’s even possible to fairly judge the entirety of the passing game as the TV camera doesn’t pan to the receivers until the ball is thrown. Using the All-22 would be a huge leap in quality, IMHO. On the other hand, the details of the play call will always be a question mark.

          • Mark Stevens

            don’t be ridiculous: of course they use the all-22 or they could not grade most players

          • nogoodnamesleft90210

            You clearly haven’t read PFF’s FAQ:

            13) Do you use coaches’ film, or TV broadcasts for your analysis? How can you see what players are lined up where?

            We use TV broadcasts for both the analysis and the player
            participation data. We’ve been asked a lot how therefore is it possible to determine who was on the field in every position through TV pictures. Surely that just isn’t possible? Well, just because something is not easy doesn’t mean it is impossible. Firstly, the high definition picture from which we work is excellent, and that gives us the best starting point outside of coaches’ film, which isn’t attainable outside of NFL offices.

          • Mark Stevens

            I stand corrected— and WTF? I get the all-22 through GamePass because I am abroad, though it is unavailable in the U.S. (I thought these guys were in the U.K.?). However, even in the U.S. I thought it was available through Rewind. How the hell can they possibly grade DBs who are offscreen? Sign me “flabbergasted.”

        • Mike Jones

          because those qb’s do things other than checkdowns while that seems to be bradford’s game…. as a falcons fan i can tell you that our safeties are pretty terrible at covering the pass,and we had 2 rookie cb’s out there and bradford couldn’t do anything despite also having little to no pressure on him all game long…

  • John Breitenbach

    There’s no problem with checking down per se, but Bradford does it so often. He lacks anticipation and tends to wait till a receiver is wide open to throw deep which stymies the St Louis offense.