FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes Roddy White's recent comments to ESPN about Julio Jones' immense ceiling.
Julio Jones has put together a pretty special season this year, although that's been the case for many of his years in the NFL. Jones is just 381 yards away from surpassing Roddy White's franchise record, but his former teammate believes he can accomplish much greater things.
"The pace that he's at right now, he can not only be the all-time leading receiver in Falcons history, to me he has enough talent to be the all-time leading receiver in the NFL," White told ESPN's Vaughn McClure of Jones. "That's if he plays long enough."
Jones recently reached 1,400 receiving yards for the fifth straight season, becoming the only receiver in NFL history to accomplish that feat.
To read the rest of McClure's piece on White's admiration of Jones, click here.
Week 14 power rankings:
By this point in the season, Falcons fans could be forgiven for skipping out on checking various NFL power rankings. Atlanta has only going in one direction during its five-game losing streak, and it isn't the direction many want to see. Be sure to also check out Matt Tabeek’s Wildly Important Power Rankings while you're here.
"If the last few weeks are any indication, the Falcons might be fortunate to finish 6-10. Hard to believe for a group that nearly won the Super Bowl two years ago and came a football-in-between-Julio-Jones'-hands from defeating the Super Bowl champs in last season's Divisional Round. The injuries are what they are, but Atlanta is playing terrible football right now. The numbers from Sunday look so-so, but bear in mind that 14 of the Falcons' 20 points and nearly two-thirds of their total yards came in garbage time after they fell behind 34-7. Surely Dan Quinn's outfit can handle the visiting Cardinals this week, right?"
"Dan Quinn gets a pass because of all the injuries for this team's slide. But the pressure will be on in 2019."
"Top wish list item: A win, any win. The Falcons have lost five in a row and are guaranteed to finish with a losing record for the first time under Dan Quinn. They need something to feel good about going into the offseason, so having the lowly Arizona Cardinals come to town could be the answer to breaking the streak. Then again, the Cardinals won at Green Bay and got Mike McCarthy fired."
Here are some other articles for Falcons fans to check out today:
As the Falcons begin to turn an eye towards the future, there will be plenty of meetings about who will remain with the team as they move forward. Some of those evaluations have already begun, but there's still much that won't be decided for some time.
Among those decisions is the future of running back Tevin Coleman who will become a free agent after this season. When both are healthy, Devonta Freeman and Coleman can be one of the league's top running back duos. According to coach Dan Quinn, it's not out of the question that they will remain a duo past this season.
"Yep. For sure," Quinn said of the possibility Coleman returns. "Everything's on the table. When we're in the scenario that we're in, which we're not very pleased at, you evaluate anything and everything. So, yeah, we're certainly going to consider every single option in every way."
ESPN's Vaughn McClure wrote about the possibility of Coleman's return to the team and the importance of the run game to the Falcons' offensive identity. To read his piece, click here.
CBS Sports: 2019 NFL mock draft
With the offseason drawing closer, some sites have begun throwing out mock drafts. CBS Sports is often among the sites with the most mock drafts in the leadup to draft night, and Chris Trapasso has one predicting how he believes things will unfold come April. Trapasso has the Falcons drafting at No. 11 and adding a big name on the defensive line: Houston's Ed Oliver.
"Somewhat of fall for Oliver, and the Falcons are ecstatic to pick him here to pair next to the similarly 'undersized' but explosive Grady Jarrett," Trapasso writes.
To read the rest of Trapasso's mock draft, click here.
ESPN: Falcons start looking to future in loss
Every time it seems as though the Falcons have found some type of answer to a question they've had for most of the season, several more questions pop up to take its place. During their 34-20 loss to the Packers on Sunday, the Falcons ran the ball well and sacked Aaron Rodgers four times, matching their season high.
The result, however, was no different than it was the four weeks prior. Atlanta continues to search for answers for both the present and the future, as ESPN's Vaughn McClure wrote about after the game.
"I said, 'As dark as it is, the men that will get it right here in these three weeks are the men that are standing in this room,'" Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. "Just wanting it to get better isn't a great way for real progress. You've got to make changes that are consistent to playing better."
To read McClure's piece on the Falcons looking to the future, click here.
NFL.com: What we learned from Week 14
Could change be on the horizon for the Falcons? That appears to be one of NFL.com's Austin Knoblauch's biggest takeaways from yesterday's game for Atlanta.
"Last month, Falcons owner Arthur Blank said coach Dan Quinn wasn't the reason for the team's struggles, but it's apparent the Dirty Birds will be cleaning up some parts of the coaching staff this offseason," Knoblauch writes. "It's remarkable how bland the Falcons (4-9) look on offense. After taking the lead on a seven-play, 75-yard drive to open the game, the Falcons went silent. Matt Ryan's season of bland then came into vivid display as Atlanta fell into a irrecoverable scoreboard spiral spurred by a missed field-goal attempt and a 46-yard pick-six by Bashaud Breeland. A big chunk of Ryan's 262 yards on 28-of-42 passing came with the game already out of reach. With the amount of offensive weapons the Falcons have, it's hard to fathom certain notable figures on the coaching staff won't be gone by January."
To read the rest of Knoblauch's takeaways from the game, click here.
AJC: Falcons have started to look to future
During Sunday's game, there were a number of Falcons players who saw increased playing time. Per Dan Quinn, that was intentional. Ty Sambrailo started at right tackle over Ryan Schraeder, and Isaiah Oliver and Ryan Neal were also among the players who had their roles increased. As Atlanta closes out the season, it appears they will be evaluating for the future, as D. Orlando Ledbetter wrote in a piece for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"I've started that already," Quinn said of evaluating for the future. "Ty is certainly one that we wanted to do. We'll go back and look at the performance and see how it went. Same thing with Brian [Hill] and Isaiah. It wasn't much past that. Ryan Neal was active. We put him on special teams. That was his first performance. ... Some were limited roles."
To read the rest of Ledbetter's piece, click here.
AJC: Quinn on 4-9 Falcons: 'There's definitely disbelief'
This season has been undoubtedly frustrating for the Falcons, who have not performed the way people both inside the team and on the outside expected. As Dan Quinn works to get things corrected as the 2018 season draws to a close, there was a little bit of reflecting after Sunday's game.
"It's definitely maddening and frustrating," Quinn said of this season. "There's definitely disbelief."
Mark Bradley wrote a column on the Falcons' frustrations and how their season has come to unfold for the AJC, which you can read here.