Early Bird Report: Opportunities arising for younger Falcons


The Falcons have already taken the opportunity to get some of their younger players time out on the field during games. We've seen an uptick in the usage of players like Russell Gage and Christian Blake at receiver as well as Kendall Sheffield, among others.


With four games remaining in the 2019 season and the Falcons officially eliminated from the playoffs, Atlanta will look to continue developing their young players for the future.

"You definitely want to take a look and see where you are at," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. "Through some injuries we've already had that at a number of spots already to see where they development could go and who you could look at. Some of that starts on special teams.

"Those chances sometimes they come up through injury. But the other part is that we want to keep developing them and pushing them so they can max that out. But it's always still about playing our best to go win."

D. Orlando Ledbetter wrote more about the Falcons' youth movement for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which you can read here.

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

ESPN: Matt Ryan nearing 50,000 yards

Matt Ryan has already made his mark on this history books this season, surpassing Warren Moon and moving into the NFL's top 10 in career passing yards. In Week 14 against the Carolina Panthers, Ryan could again reach a major milestone.

With just 34 passing yards on Sunday, Ryan will have amassed 50,000 in his NFL career, a feat that only nine others have accomplished in the league's history. Here are the nine quarterbacks on that list, currently:

  • Drew Brees: 76,228 yards*
  • Tom Brady: 73,782 yards*
  • Peyton Manning: 71,940 yards
  • Brett Favre: 71,838 yards
  • Dan Marino: 61,361 yards
  • Philip Rivers: 58,090 yards*
  • Ben Roethlisberger: 56,545 yards*
  • Eli Manning: 56,537 yards*
  • John Elway: 51,475 yards

*Player is still active

ESPN's Vaughn McClure spoke with Ryan about what the milestone would mean to him and how he would reflect upon it. McClure's piece also includes quotes from other notable quarterbacks on that list like Favre and Brees about the Falcons' starting quarterback.

"Everybody's shooting for that," Ryan told McClure of finishing his career as the NFL's all-time leading passer. "Anybody that tells you they're not is lying. Of course you're shooting for that. Of course you'd want to be recognized that way. But at the same time, there's a long time to go between now and then.

"You need a lot of luck, and I think all the guys up there on the list would say the same thing. You've got to work really, really hard, but you've got to be lucky, too, to be able to continue to play and not have things derail your career because every time you're out there, something could kind of change that narrative. It could change in one play. So, I think you have to be lucky to get there, too. But I feel good, man. I feel like I've got a lot to go, a long way to go from here."

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

AJC: Falcons' offensive line rebuild not working

During the 2019 offseason, the Falcons went to great lengths to bolster the depth and talent along their offensive line. Atlanta used two first-round picks on guard Chris Lindstrom, who has been on injured reserve since Week 1, and tackle Kaleb McGary. The Falcons also signed veteran guards James Carpenter and Jamon Brown, who, alongside McGary, have been starters for much of the season.

Those new additions haven't led to different results, however. The Falcons have allowed 40 sacks so far this season, tied for the seventh-most in the league. They've also had difficulty establishing the run, ranking 30th in the league with 74.3 rushing yards per game.

"It's real frustrating, especially when it's one of those big guys that lay on him," Brown told The AJC's D. Orlando Ledbetter of opponents sacking Matt Ryan. "I know as an offensive lineman, you take that personally, even if it's not your guy. So, I know that all five guys, every guy in that room, is fighting their butt off to make sure that we keep that man, Matt on his feet."

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

The Ringer: Atlanta Falcons exit interview

With Atlanta officially eliminated from the postseason, The Ringer's Danny Heifetz wrote an exit interview for the team in 2019. Heifetz touched briefly on what went right for the team, had a lot more to say about what went wrong for the team, and took stock of the future via free agency and the draft.

"No team needs to win the Chase Young sweepstakes quite like Atlanta," Heifetz writes. "The Falcons have one of the worst pass rushes in the league. Beasley and Clayborn are likely gone in March, and the Falcons have virtually no money to acquire a veteran pass rusher to replace them."

To read the rest of Heifetz's exit interview, click here.

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