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Early Bird Report: Jury still out on Falcons' rookie class


The Falcons are halfway through the 2019 season, and the jury is still out on their most recent draft class. Only right tackle Kaleb McGary has been a primary starter, while both John Cominsky and Kendall Sheffield have received increased playing time as the fall rolls along.


Atlanta's first pick in the 2019 draft, guard Chris Lindstrom, was placed on injured reserve after Week 1, but he is eligible to return later this year if the team chooses to do so. With the season at the halfway point, we don't have a clear picture of what this draft class can be for Atlanta, and ESPN's Vaughn McClure believes it's time to change that by using players like running back Qadree Ollison and cornerback Jordan Miller.

"Maybe Ollison, a 6-foot-1, 232-pound back ideal for short-yardage situations, finally will get a chance in the second half of the schedule as the 1-7 Falcons try to find a way to salvage the season," McClure writes. "Coach Dan Quinn vowed to continue the fight, although the outlook for a dramatic turnaround is bleak. That's why it would seem wise for Quinn and his assistants -- regardless of their coaching futures -- to start taking a closer look at younger, underdeveloped players to see if any of them are capable of providing a spark."

To read the rest of McClure's piece on the Falcons' 2019 class, click here.

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

AJC: A sad sign of the times: Falcons cut Matt Bryant

The Falcons parted ways with longtime kicker Matt Bryant on Tuesday, two days after he missed to kicks of over 50 yards. It's been a difficult season for Bryant, who was as close to perfect as a kicker can be for so much of his career in Atlanta. Mark Bradley, a columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, sees the move as somewhat of a metaphor for the Falcons' 2019 season.

"Was it mere coincidence that Bryant's misses Sunday came in the first game [Matt] Ryan hadn't started since 2009? Probably. It was also symptomatic of this wretched season," Bradley writes. "The quarterback who never gets hurt gets hurt. The kicker who would go months between misses begins pushing kicks wide left and right. The defense — still terrible. The O-line — ditto. The coaching — nonexistent. Ergo, 1-7."

To read the rest of Bradley's column, click here.

ESPN: Quinn says it's a waste of time to think job status

In his final press conference before the team's bye week, Dan Quinn was asked about the press conference that Falcons owner Arthur Blank held following the team's 27-20 loss to the Seahawks. He acknowledged that he's aware of the situation he finds himself in and explained that everything Blank told the Atlanta media had already been discussed with him privately.

In light of those discussions, Quinn remained adamant that his focus is squarely on improving the on-field product with his team after the bye week. Focusing on anything outside of that, Quinn said, would be unproductive.

"Well, I can honestly say all the time and all the attention I have, I couldn't think of a bigger waste of my mental health and space," Quinn said. "All I want to do is see if we can get it right. That's what we want to deliver for Arthur [Blank]. That's what we want to deliver for the fans, for the team, and have the performances that the city deserves. That's really important. To spend any time or moments thinking 'What if I don't?' that would only take away from that. Like I said, we feel horrible that he had to have -- you know, address some of the issues that are going on, but nothing's more important than getting it right. That's really what I spend my time and my attention on."

ESPN's Vaughn McClure wrote more about Quinn's focus for the remainder of the season, which you can read here.

ESPN: Takeaways from Week 8

The Falcons trailed 24-0 heading into halftime during Sunday's loss to the Seahawks, and two touchdown catches by D.K. Metcalf helped Seattle build that big lead. Those two receptions seemingly occurred because of assignment miscues on the part of Atlanta defenders, as Metcalf was wide open when they happened.

"Allowing Seahawks rookie receiver DK Metcalf to break wide open for two goal-line touchdown receptions was inexcusable and indicative of the kind of blatant mistakes the Falcons have made all season on defense, even with Dan Quinn as the defensive coordinator," Vaughn McClure wrote in ESPN's takeaways of Week 8 NFL action. "Those two plays were part of the reason the Falcons trailed 24-0 at halftime. You can't have those type of mental breakdowns eight games in when you're preaching about fixing those problems. Now the Falcons have next week's bye to think about all that's gone wrong."

To read the rest of ESPN's takeaways from the weekend, click here.

AJC: Falcons tumble into bye week

After losing six straight games, the Falcons enter the bye week sitting at 1-7 and facing a tough stretch for the remainder of the season. In his piece for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, D. Orlando Ledbetter shared his opinion that the Falcons are the league's most disappointing team.

"No one expected much from Miami (0-6), Cincinnati (0-8) or Washington (1-7) this season," Ledbetter writes. "But to see the Falcons down in the basement with the lower-level teams in the league is chilling. While Denver's 2-6 is a mild surprise, the Falcons are easily the most disappointing team in the league."

To read the rest of Ledbetter's piece, which includes five things we learned from Atlanta's loss, click here. What we learned from Week 8

The Falcons entered halftime down 24-0 against the Seahawks, but they played one of their best halves of football this season after the mid-game break. Atlanta outscored Seattle 20-3 in the final two quarters, and the Falcons were in position to add even more points on the board if not for a Devonta Freeman fumble. In his takeaways for, Jelani Scott mentioned some of the performances that helped lead to that big second half.

"In 118 career games, Julio Jones had never caught a pass from a QB not named Matt Ryan," Scott writes. "And yet that didn't seem to matter one iota for the star wideout. Although he was held out of the endzone for the fourth straight week, Jones logged his best stats of the season (10 catches, 152 yards) in QB Matt Schaub's first start since 2015. Playing well has been a foreign concept for Atlanta all year and, for the first half, it appeared to be more of the same with Seattle outgaining them in total yards (240-166) and leading 24-0. Yes, the game ended with Atlanta's sixth straight loss but the team that came out the tunnel looked head and shoulders above every version of the team this year. A 23-yard TD run from RB Brian Hill punctuated Atlanta's first drive of the second half and sparked a 20-3 run that almost ended their slump. Had kicker Matt Bryant converted his two 50-plus yard misses, the outcome could've ended way differently in the wake of Schaub (39-of-52, 460 yards, TD) playing well above expectations."

To read the rest of Scott's takeaways from the Falcons-Seahawks game, click here.

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