The entire Atlanta Falcons roster spent the morning volunteering at 12 locations across metro Atlanta for the annual Hometown Huddle event. Take a look at pictures from the day.
The Falcons have established themselves as an early playoff contender in the last month and a half, and along the way, a few noticeable trends have emerged.
Free agent acquisitions and draftees have, for the most part, worked out well. The offense has found a comfortable balance. The coaching has been excellent. And a number of returning players have taken big strides forward—including Atlanta's 2014 first-round pick, Jake Matthews.
The second-year left tackle has done a fantastic job protecting Matt Ryan's blindside. In total, he's allowed just 10 pressures, one sack and one QB hit and committed only two penalties. Heading into Week 7, he owns the ninth-best pass block efficiency grade on Pro Football Focus among qualifying tackles.
Matthews' run blocking has been solid, as well. Falcons RBs are gaining 4.83 yards per carry when rushing behind the left tackle, according to NFL Game Stats and Info, an indication that he's prospering in Kyle Shanahan's outside zone scheme.
The tape agrees. No longer hampered by a nagging Lisfranc injury, Matthews has been quick on his feet and been able to get off his initial blocks to pave the way downfield.
Matthews continued his progress Thursday in New Orleans, which caught the attention of Atlanta's coaching staff.
"You know, when we went through the game, it was one of the best games that Jake's played this year, in terms of the quickness and movement," said Dan Quinn. "The steps that he's taken each week, you really see the improvement happening. For him, I thought it was a really good outing."