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Early Bird Report: Why Calvin Ridley is the early favorite for offensive rookie of the year, what Falcons offense must do

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes the reaction to the Falcons' 37-36 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.


ESPN: Ridley wins Offensive Rookie of the Year through first quarter

Calvin Ridley has been nothing short of sensational in the past three games. He has 15 catches for 264 yards and six touchdowns.

ESPN writer Bill Barnwell gave out his first quarter of the season awards in which he named Ridley his first choice for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

*The Athletic: The Falcons' offense will need to do even more to win games

After a slow start in Week 1, the Falcons' offense seems to be clicking on all cylinders. They're averaging 34.6 points per game in the past three games and they're 11-of-13 in the red zone. But even that kind of production hasn't been enough in the past two games, both resulting in losses.

"Therefore, as unfair as it may seem, the offense may have only one option to help out the other side: score even more," Jason Butt of the Athletic said. "Until the defense can figure out how to consistently get stops and keep teams from scoring more than, say, 25 points, this will be the reality for the offense. It is now 1-2 in shootouts and 1-3 for the season. Atlanta's final offensive series sums up what the Falcons are tasked with moving forward. Leading 33-31, the Falcons drove to the Cincinnati 9-yard line with 4:45 left to play in the game. A touchdown could have sealed the game for the Falcons."

ESPN: The 1-3 Falcons have more questions than answers on defense

The Falcons have suffered a significant amount of injuries to some of their starters on defense, but Falcons coach Dan Quinn has said his team will not play the victim card. Right now, Quinn said his team lacks the ability to "close the door and shut it" in all three aspects of the game.

Defensively, the Falcons will have to find ways to make more plays with the talent they do have on the field moving forward.

"At the end of the day, we have to get these moments right," Quinn said. "Through our first quarter of the season, our record doesn't show that we have that part down, so we've got work to do. We're a good team and our record doesn't show it at this point.

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