Early Bird Report: Falcons know they need more consistency up front


After investing a lot of resources in the offensive line this past offseason, including two first-round picks, the Falcons are still looking for improvement up front. Coming off a game against the Rams in which Matt Ryan was sacked five times, the Falcons' offensive linemen know they need to be better and more consistent.


"Obviously, we've got to protect better, as a whole," Falcons guard Jamon Brown told ESPN's Vaughn McClure. "I think there's times that we do well, but we just have to be more consistent. When we're blocking well for a game, that happens the whole game. If we can string together some weeks of being consistent week in and week out, obviously we can avoid things like Matt getting hurt. And then we'll have more success on offense.''

This next game should give Atlanta a chance to rebound in pass protection. The Seattle Seahawks currently have 11 sacks on the season, which places them 26th among all NFL team.

To read the rest of McClure's piece on Atlanta's offensive line, click here.

Here are some other articles for Falcons fans to check out today:

AJC: Julio Jones delivers emotional post-game speech

Following the Falcons' 37-10 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Julio Jones asked coach Dan Quinn if he could say a few words to the team. The normally quite superstar receiver defended Quinn and the Falcons' coaching staff and invoked the urgency of the situation, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who spoke with several players in the locker room.

"Everybody just sat there and watched," Falcons safety Ricardo Allen told Ledbetter. "He's a guy that when he speaks and he doesn't speak very often, everybody is going to listen. You see him and how much he was hurt, how frustrated and confused he is still, it's just like, that's when you know it's serious. You know that we need it from everybody around. We need it from every 1/11th that's on that field.

"No, everybody is not going to play like Julio. We are all not as talented as him. But you have to give as much feeling, as much emotion, as much passion as you can."

To read the rest of Ledbetter's story on Jones speaking up after the game, click here.

ESPN: Sanu swap shows Falcons could be busy

Could the dealing of Mohamed Sanu to the New England Patriots portend a sign of things to come in Atlanta? That's the question informing Vaughn McClure's recent article for ESPN about how busy the Falcons might be ahead of the upcoming trade deadline.

"There's a value every player has, so you take Mo's situation," Center Alex Mack told McClure. "It's a year and a half, and he's valuable and a great player, and so he's going to be valuable for the Patriots. Also for the Falcons, you have a second-round pick that can be a really good player. You look at how many great guys in this league are second-round picks. You get that player for four or five years, and you have a team like us with cap problems."

To read the rest of McClure's piece on the Falcons and the trade deadline, click here.

ESPN: Barnwell's NFL trade grades

The Falcons made headlines Tuesday by trading wide receiver Mohamed Sanu to the New England Patriots in exchange for a second-round draft pick. ESPN staff writer Bill Barnwell liked the move for both teams, but he especially liked the return for Atlanta.

In grading the move for each franchise, Barnwell gave the Patriots at C+ and the Falcons a B+, saying that Atlanta should be "thrilled" about receiving a second-round pick.

"Instead, the Falcons are getting a second-round pick and saving $3.5 million over the rest of the season," Barnwell writes. "Even given that the Patriots pick could be the final selection of the round, turning a year and a half of Sanu into the 64th pick is good value for general manager Thomas Dimitroff & Co. If the rumors are true and the Patriots offered a second-round pick for Sanu before the draft, it's a bit of a surprise that the Patriots weren't able to drive the price down, given that they'll basically get only 75% of what they would have received before the draft. The Falcons did well to avoid sending a late-round pick in 2021 back to the Patriots as part of the deal."

To read the rest of Barnwell's thoughts on the Falcons-Patriots trade, click here.

AJC: Pump the brakes on firing Dan Quinn

In the first nugget of his weekly 9@9 blog, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter shared a bit of history that he believes is similar to the situation the Falcons find themselves at this point and time. Namely, the Browns' decision to fire a certain Bill Belichick after five seasons with the team.

"So before everyone runs Quinn out of town, let's get some answers on how this season really fell apart and be sure the franchise isn't set back by making a poor decision not based on the best way to win football games moving forward," Ledbetter writes.

To see what else Ledbetter has to say about Quinn and the rest of his 9@9, click here.

NFL.com: What we learned from Week 7

Sunday's loss for the Falcons came in all three phases of the game, which coach Dan Quinn explained at his post-game press conference. While Atlanta's offense had been moving the ball effectively in the two games leading up to Sunday, it, too, was stifled in the Falcons' 37-10 loss.

The Rams' defense deserves plenty of credit for their role in shutting down the Falcons in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Atlanta made a few plays here and there, but in the face of consistent pressure and tight coverage from the Rams' secondary, the Falcons couldn't do too much.

"The Rams' midweek blockbuster trade for Jalen Ramsey pitted the star corner against all-world receiver Julio Jones for the first time," Kevin Patra wrote in his takeaways for NFL.com. "While the Rams suggested they would bring Ramsey along slowly, DC Wade Phillips deployed Ramsey liberally early in the contest against Jones. Jalen Ramsey played 26 of 31 snaps (83.9%) in the first half, per Next Gen Stats. Ramsey lined up against Julio Jones on 17 of his 26 snaps (65%) through two quarters allowing three receptions for 69 yards, per NGS. With the second-half blowout, L.A. was able to rest Ramsey late. He played 36 of 52 snaps on the game -- 30 of the first 36. Julio still made several plays against Ramsey downfield, but it was easy to see how the Rams plan to use the corner to help boost the pass defense. Phillips brought heat on Matt Ryan and rolled coverage elsewhere with Ramsey mostly one-on-one against Jones. Dante Fowler had a monster game, compiling three sacks, three tackles for loss, a pass defended, a forced fumble and wrecking several other plays. Aaron Donald was again in the middle of everything, including a strip-sack of Ryan, during which the QB was injured. Shutting down an Atlanta offense that came in putting up big numbers is exactly what McVay and Co. wanted to see after acquiring Ramsey for a hefty price tag."

To read the rest of Patra's takeaways from Sunday's game, click here.

AJC: Beasley: 'I feel like I've let [Quinn] down'

Following Sunday's game, players were quick to shoulder much of the blame for the outcome. Pass rushers Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley were among those saying they need to step up, with McKinley explaining, "at the end of the day it's on us." The Falcons have not recorded a sack in four straight games, but Quinn put his ends in position to make other plays. Most notably, he dropped Beasley into coverage against Rams running back Todd Gurley. And while Beasley played him pretty tightly, Gurley made a tremendous catch in the corner of the end zone.

"Yeah, I feel like I've let him down," Beasley told The AJC's D. Orlando Ledbetter. "He's made some great calls. We just have to execute. He's making good calls. It's up to us to execute them."

To read the rest of Ledbetter's piece, click here.

AJC: Tight salary cap makes future fuzzy for Falcons

The Falcons have made it a point to draft and develop much of the core of their roster, and they've recently invested a lot of money in keeping that core intact. That will limit their flexibility with the salary cap in coming seasons, as Michael Cunningham writes for The AJC.

"The Falcons (1-6) are facing a tight salary cap for 2020," Cunningham writes. "That's not necessarily a problem for a contending team. It is potentially a big problem for the Falcons, who aren't in the running for the NFL's worst team only because the Dolphins are tanking. The core Falcons players will have to be a lot better in 2020 and the team may be forced to depart with some guys who can help."

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