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What They're Saying: Rivera, Davis Talk Falcons

Head coach Ron Rivera

On the way the Falcons have been playing of late:
"I think the thing, when you watch them, is they are still a dynamic football team. They're explosive on offense. I think probably the biggest thing right now is Julio hasn't been as healthy as earlier in the year. He's still a big part of it. They still run the ball very well. I think the quarterback is doing some really good things and making good decisions. I mean, he's having a heck of a year. And so I'm not sure how much they've changed as far as that's concerned. Defensively, they're still opportunistic. They're still trying to make plays. These guys run around and play hard. It's a good team. Their special teams is solid, too. You've got to look at who they've got. You've got a guy like Eric Weems who goes out and makes plays and makes things happen. He's somebody you have to account for."

On the progress young defenders like Vic Beasley Jr. and Deion Jones have made:"Oh, they've made a lot of (progress). You see their contributions. I think both those young guys are solid football players. I know Vic plays that outside linebacker slash defensive end hybrid position. He plays it very well. Deion is a young and up-and-coming (and) solid linebacker in this league. So you see it. I know they lost probably their best cornerback (Desmond Trufant). That's unfortunate, and everyone goes through it. So it's all part of the game. But they've accounted for it very nicely. It's a group of guys that have played hard for them."

On what makes the Falcons-Panthers rivalry special:"We're so close in proximity. We've got a lot of guys from the Atlanta area that do love Atlanta. And that's understandable. They want to be able to beat their home team to have a little bit of bragging rights. I think that's all part of it. I think because the proximity, I've got a tremendous amount of respect for what (their) coach does. I think Dan Quinn is one of the solid guys in this league that works hard, does things the right way, and I think it's reflected in the organization. I think Mr. (Arthur) Blank does things the way they need to be done and I know they're all excited that they're having a new stadium built for the city. I mean, there's a lot of positive things, and we mirror each other a lot, in a lot of ways. Teams that are developing with young players – I think that's what makes it a special rivalry. Coach Quinn and I have talked, we'd like to have a great rivalry for a number of years."

Linebacker Thomas Davis

On preparing for the Falcons:"We have to refocus. The Falcons are a different team than the team we just played on Monday night (Washington) and we understand that. We've got to be ready for an extremely high-powered offense. I think the defense is playing a lot better now, too. You look at what they've been able to do – Vic Beasley getting the pressure and sacks that he's been able to get. The young guys at linebacker (are) flying around and making plays. I think they are a complete football team."

His assessment of fellow LB Jones:"I love the way the kid's been playing. Hats off to him. I feel like he's had a phenomenal year. I think the sky's the limit for him."* *

On why Matt Ryan is playing so well:"I think when you look at the guys that are around Matt right now, man, the way that they're running their offense … I think that's been the biggest difference. He's gotten comfortable in the new system, and it's showing."

On why it's so difficult to defend Devonta Freeman:
"He runs the ball like he's playing defense. He's a guy who using his speed, he knows when to lower his shoulder, he knows when to run around guys."

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