There was smoke in the air at the Atlanta Falcons’ training facility in Flowery Branch. The team today moved their practice indoors due to the wildfires in the north Georgia mountains. “I really didn’t know what was going on,” offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. “I thought we were joking about the smoke. Then when we got outside, I realized it wasn’t a joke. Once I went inside, I felt healthier.”
As the saying goes, ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire.’ In this case, the Falcons’ offense has been set ablaze. Coming off of a 43 point performance last Thursday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, quarterback Matt Ryan was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.
In last Thursday’s win, Ryan completed 73.5 percent of his passes, went 25-of-34 for 344 yards and a season-high 144.7 passer rating and had four touchdowns. Ryan hit seven different receivers in the game, including passes of 20+ yards to six different players. Ryan also notched his league-leading 10th touchdown of 20+ yards on a 32-yard strike to Levine Toilolo.
The Falcons currently have the number one offense in the NFL.
Meanwhile, Head Coach Dan Quinn is hard at work diagnosing their quarterback Carson Wentz.
“Generally, you can see their doing an excellent job in the pocket and outside the pocket,” Quinn said. “They’ve given the whole compliment of the offense. That’s usually what you look for, alright, for a quarterback can he handle the whole thing? That’s certainly the case there after half a season in you can tell he’s feeling the familiarity, the routes, and the concepts. I’ve been impressed by his athleticism. I wouldn’t say he’s a quarterback that is going to be a run first option but he’s certainly athletic and they can do some of the quarterback gun runs that make him an extra player to defend. We’ve been impressed so far. We thought toughness wise he looks good, he’s not trying to slide, he was trying to run it and be aggressive like a lot of young quarterbacks do and he didn’t back off in any of the challenges I’ve seen.”
Cornerback Desmond Trufant appears to have made progress with his shoulder however he did not practice today. Also, running back Tevin Coleman (hamstring) and tight end Jacob Tamme (shoulder) did not practice today. Quinn said Tamme may not play Sunday. Defensive end Dwight Freeney (quad) did practice.
Meanwhile, the Eagles are mindful of Julio Jones. Last week, Jones caught eight passes for 111 yards and a touchdown.
“Oh man, I’ll tell you, that kid is pretty special,” Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson said. “Good athlete. You see teams try to be physical with him, and it’s hard. You see teams that try to roll coverage to him, and it’s hard because he’s so big and strong. He knows how to get open. He and Matt are definitely on the same page when it comes to these routes and the throws that they’re completing. Somebody like that, gosh, you just do the best you can to contain. It’s probably going to take two defenders at times. There are going to be times when he’s singled up, and we’re going to have to put pressure on Matt with probably a rush and all of that. You can’t go to sleep on a guy like Julio Jones, because he can not only beat you with the underneath stuff, but he has the ability to track the ball, high-point the ball when it’s in the air, and he does a nice job down the field as well.”
The Atlanta Falcons travel to face off against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Kickoff is Sunday at 1:00PM EST. Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch and Pam Oliver will provide the play-by-play, color commentary and sideline reporting for FOX. Craig Wrolstad’s crew will officiate the game.