Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL Nation [Print without images]

Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Upon Further Review: Falcons Week 5

By Vaughn McClure

A review of four hot issues from the Atlanta Falcons' 30-28 loss to the New York Jets:

Down Jones: At some point during Monday night’s game, big-play receiver Julio Jones suffered a significant foot injury. But guess what? He remained in the game and even made an outstanding one-handed catch. If anything else, it showed just how tough a player Jones really is. But now, the Falcons face the possibility of being without arguably their top player for the remainder of the season. Coach Mike Smith admitted the outlook for Jones wasn’t good after the initial exam, although Jones plans to go to Charlotte Wednesday for a second opinion. With Roddy White (hamstring, ankle) also banged-up, the offense could take a significant step back. The Falcons hope Steven Jackson (hamstring) returns after the bye week. They’ll need a strong running game to help compensate for the loss of Jones. And Matt Ryan might have to target Tony Gonzalez 20 times a game now.

Jacquizz Rodgers
Jacquizz Rodgers was stopped short of the goal line late in the second quarter Monday night.
Decisions, decisions: In hindsight, maybe Smith should have gone for the field goal on fourth-and-1 from the 1 at the end of the first half against the Jets. Instead, the Falcons put the ball in the hands of diminutive running back Jacquizz Rodgers and tried to run up the middle. Rodgers got stopped for no gain when at least two offensive linemen allowed Jets defensive linemen to penetrate. "We felt like we needed to score a touchdown in that situation," Smith said afterward. "We didn’t get it done." That’s been a recurring theme for the 1-4 Falcons.

Deficient defense: Once again, the Falcons failed on defense when they needed a stop most. They allowed the Jets and rookie quarterback Geno Smith to drive within field-goal range with less than 2 minutes remaining in regulation. It led to Nick Folk’s 43-yard game winner. On the drive, Smith completed all five of his passes for 45 yards. Falcons safety William Moore talked about the defense being caught off-guard by the no-huddle offense. The Falcons' coach didn’t subscribe to that theory. "There were some physical breakdowns," he said. "There was a mental breakdown on one specific play. And I think it’s kind of reminiscent of what has happened through the first five games. We have not been as efficient as we need to be."

Nothing special: Coach Smith wasn’t happy with a few special-teams blunders, including a horse-collar tackle on punter Matt Bosher during a return, and a blocked punt allowed by special-teamer Shann Schillinger. At least Schillinger recovered the block and passed it to a teammate, although the Falcons still gave the Jets good field position at the 44. They converted a field goal after the turnover. "I just got beat on an up-and-under rush," Schillinger said. "That’s not acceptable on my part. It’s hard to put your defense in that situation." With injuries hurting the offense and mental errors and poor tackling affecting the defense, the Falcons need more big plays on special teams.