- Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer
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A weekly examination of the Falcons' ESPN.com Power Ranking:
Preseason: 4 | Last Week: 22 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002
The Atlanta Falcons dropped yet another spot to No. 23 despite having a bye this past weekend. And the outlook doesn’t look good for them.
The loss of top receiver Julio Jones to a season-ending foot injury is sure to cripple what was a high-octane offense. An injury to Roddy White (hamstring) also could significantly limit quarterback Matt Ryan’s options. He can’t throw to Tony Gonzalez on every down, despite Gonzalez’s unique ability to beat double coverage.
Becoming more of a grind-it-out offense just doesn’t suit the Falcons, particularly with Steven Jackson still recovering from a hamstring injury. But the Falcons might be forced to use more of a ground game regardless, meaning more could be expected of both Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling.
Facing a winless Tampa Bay team (No. 30 in the Power Rankings) and a rookie quarterback might be the cure for the ailing 1-4 Falcons. They need to tighten up on defense and put together a few impact plays on special teams.
A key player to watch is 6-foot-8 rookie tight end Levine Toilolo. If he continues to develop, he could be a matchup nightmare to pair with Gonzalez and keep the offense flowing.