Falcons prove they’re made of far more than just Julio Jones in Week 4
Through the first three games of the 2015 NFL season, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones was on a record-setting pace. While he slowed down just a bit during Atlanta’s Week 4 victory over the Houston Texans, there’s no reason to believe his incredible pace will come to a screeching halt. With that said, we did see something a bit different from the Falcons on Sunday.
While the Falcons went on to rout the Texans by a score of 48-21, it wasn’t the Julio Jones show like we’ve seen to this point in 2015.
In games against the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, Jones had totaled 34 receptions for 440 yards and four touchdowns. He had also seen an incredible 46 targets go in his direction from quarterback Matt Ryan.
Basically, Jones was unstoppable. Could the Texans slow him down? No, the popular opinion was that his ridiculous streak would continue on right through Week 4.
Unfortunately, Jones spent much of the week leading up to the game dealing with a toe injury, but his status for the game was never much of a concern. Whether or not the toe actually was a cause for Jones slowing down on Sunday is unknown, but we did see him come back down to earth with just four receptions for 38 yards.
Some may take it as a cause for concern, but there’s little reason to be worried. Just like every other NFL player, no one can put up the numbers that Jones has been putting up on a weekly basis. That especially stands true for a wide receiver who relies so much on where the quarterback is finding openings in the defense each week.
The better way to look at this is that the Falcons have proven something to their fans and to the NFL with their massive Week 4 victory.
This team is for real, and they’re loaded with much more than just a superstar wide out.
Talent across the board offensively
Ryan, for one, hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 1, while tossing six total touchdowns on the year. He’s also completed 66.4 percent of his passes and is simply letting the game come to him.
As for Devonta Freeman, well, what is there to say about him? The "backup" running back for the Falcons has grabbed the starting running back job and isn’t looking back. He has now rushed for six touchdowns over the last two victories, while topping 200 yards total between the two games.
What makes this team so different from what we’ve seen in past years, is that there are multiple players who are capable of stepping up when called upon. In Week 4 alone, Leonard Hankerson caught six balls for 103 yards and a touchdown, while undrafted free agent running back Terron Ward rushed 19 times for 72 yards and a touchdown.
How about the Dirty Birds defense?
Atlanta is loaded offensively, and their defense has taken major steps in the right direction through just four games. Using Week 4 as a starting point, Atlanta didn’t allow a single point defensively until the Texans chose to switch quarterbacks and bring in Brian Hoyer. In what was essentially "garbage time," the Texans scored their 21 points.
Looking at the game as a whole, though, Atlanta used the "bend but don’t break" mentality to perfection. They intercepted Ryan Mallett once, while forcing the Texans to lose three fumbles. Arian Foster was back for the Texans, but it didn’t matter, as Atlanta held Houston to 54 total rushing yards.
Dan Quinn has instilled a new mentality to this Falcons defense, which showed on Sunday. Most importantly though, for the team who had watched Jones absolutely roll over defenses, the NFL was put on notice that the Falcons have weapons across the board, both on offense and defense.
Falcons fans have been waiting for these types of performances, but they finally have both an offense and a defense capable of rising up.