- Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
Small wonder: Harry Douglas said on the radio Monday morning he would take his running back one-on-two against any defenders in the league. Of course, he was talking about diminutive teammate Jacquizz Rodgers, who caught two touchdowns in the red zone Sunday while winning his one-on-one matchups. On the first, the 5-foot-6, 188-pound Rodgers lined up in the slot against Bucs linebacker Lavonte David, grabbed a perfectly placed floater from Matt Ryan and carried David a couple of yards into the end zone. The Falcons were 2-of-3 in the red zone thanks to Rodgers and are 6-of-8 the last two games. "We want to be perfect," Rodgers said. "I think we missed an opportunity down there [Sunday]. But the past two games, we've been pretty good down there." It's about time.
On the run: As much as Rodgers excelled in the passing game Sunday, the Falcons' running game was pretty much nonexistent. Rodgers and Jason Snelling combined for just 30 yards on 15 carries. The effectiveness of screen plays, of course, can work just as well as a long rush. Still, the Falcons could use more balance with the run game because they can't expect Ryan to be a flawless passer every time out. Since it remains unclear when Steven Jackson will return from a Week 2 hamstring injury, Rodgers and Snelling have to be more effective moving forward.
In a rush: The Falcons went without a sack in two of the first four games. Thanks to defensive coordinator Mike Nolan dialing up blitzes, the defense was able to put adequate pressure on Bucs rookie quarterback Mike Glennon. Safety William Moore had one of those sacks, which led to a fumble and momentum-building 30-yard touchdown for fellow safety Thomas DeCoud off the fumble recovery. Peria Jerry had a sack near the end of the first half that forced the Bucs to kick a field goal. And Jonathan Massaquoi and Joplo Bartu combined for the other sack. The Falcons also got in five quarterback hits, led by Jerry with two. As they prepare to face one of their former teammates in Arizona, the Falcons might want to show John Abraham they don't miss him.
Catching on: Darius Johnson came to the Falcons as an undrafted rookie from SMU. After starting the season on the practice squad, Johnson was promoted to the active roster over the weekend to add depth, with Julio Jones and Roddy White both out. Johnson didn't look the least bit lost as the first receiver off the bench in a three-receiver set. He caught two passes for 24 yards while being targeted three times. "He has earned the right to go out there and play, had a crucial catch for a first down in the game," Falcons coach Mike Smith said of Johnson. "He is a very athletic, not big receiver, but athletic receiver with good speed. It was good to see him get his first catch in the National Football League."
On the line: Douglas somewhat criticized the media for not interviewing the offensive linemen following Sunday's game. Of course, he was the center of attention following a career-best 149 receiving yards, but Douglas couldn't stop praising the line's performance.
Ryan wasn't sacked in the game, and it wasn't just because he was getting the ball out quickly. But the line can't get too comfortable, not with the way the upcoming Cardinals can get to the quarterback with Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell & Co.
2dDan Graziano and Adam Caplan