By Rick Woolbright
~The Time is Now~
With apologies to Paul Simon, I can imagine Matty Ice singing “Me and Julio, down by the schoolyard”. Ryan and Julio played a pretty game of pitch and catch, with just enough rushing mixed in to leave the highly touted Carolina D with no answer for the Atlanta Offense. Oh, and Mr. Newton – we’d like to introduce you to our rookie LB, Mr. Deion Jones (since you may have missed the number on the freight train that knocked you loopy at the goal line on your 2 point conversion). He’ll be seeing you again, so we thought we ought to be neighborly and pass along the name. Don’t whine, it was a clean hit. …Me and Julio down by the schoolyard. Sure am glad he’s a Falcon.
Before I proceed, allow me to chew on this serving of crow after witnessing Julio’s 300 yard game. Mustard please. I was wrong when I posted that the Falcons should force Julio to sit until he healed, so he could be explosive later in the season. THAT was explosive – fully healthy or not. Now that we have established that I am an idiot, I can continue with my analysis…
Unlike teams from the Mike Smith era, these Falcons waited until they had scored 31 points (and held a three score lead) to go into clock burning mode. These Falcons even managed to get into position to add a FG while in clock burning mode, to extend the lead to 24 points. Alas, for a moment it looked like the Falcons had again found a lead too small to sit on. Me and Julio down by the schoolyard…. Despite the late defensive collapse, the defense did hold Carolina to one offensive TD in the first three and a half quarters. Robert Alford hauled in a couple of picks late, to restore some sense of pride in the defense (after a dangerous, near collapse while facing a journeyman backup QB with a big lead). All in all, a pleasant autumn Sunday afternoon.
With one quarter of the 2016 season under their belts, our Falcons find themselves leading the NFC South with a 3–1 record (2–1 in the South). The Falcons have the NFL’s highest scoring offense thus far in the young season; and they just put up over 500 yards passing on the NFL’s number three defense (coming into the game). The Falcons defense has made some stops, got some sacks from Freeney, and collected a few of picks. Nonetheless, the defense has given up a ton of points. The special teams have been productive thus far, with Weems seeming to have younger legs than in recent seasons. Hardy had a nice return late in today’s game.
Me and Julio down by the schoolyard.
Questions for the Cage:
- What are your thoughts about the make-up of the 2016 Falcons after four games?
- How do you think the Falcons will fare with the rest of their tough schedule?
- Kyle Shanahan has been a pariah to many in the Cage. Cage family member Arno has been a prominent voice promoting a wait and see approach concerning Shanahan’s ability to adjust his offense to fit Matt Ryan’s strengths. After the big offensive game against a stout defense, has your opinion regarding Shanahan changed?
- Speaking of Arno’s contributions to the Cage: since the Cage is a fan run blog, when are you going to go to the “Post Writers” tab at the top of this page and claim a date to write the lead post for a future Cage thread?
- Can the Falcons continue to count on one-year rental Dwight Freeney to be their pass rush?
- Is Alford finally becoming a threat as a ball hawk?
- We all remember that the Falcons started out the 2015 season with a 5–0 record, largely on the back of the offense. The 2015 offense then went into a long funk (and accompanying losing streak). Is the first quarter of the 2016 season a similar mirage?
- The much maligned offensive line has played well through the first quarter of the season. Has the performance of the OL, as a unit, changed your perception of this position group?
- Could 2016 possibly be one of those unexpected magical seasons?