Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange

November 08, 2018 at 1:32 am.


–K Matt Bryant’s status won’t likely be known until game time. There is no reason to rush Bryant’s return given the success of Giorgia Tavecchio the last two games.

–WR Calvin Ridley left the game early with a head injury on Sunday. Ridley returned to the game after leaving, so he is expected to play.

–CB Robert Alford missed last week’s game against the Redskins with an ankle that kept him out of practice most of the week. His status is not known.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: LB Foye Oluokun, a rookie from Yale, continues to improve and impress. The linebacker is rewarding the staff for giving him opportunities to play. Last week, Oluokun had six tackles, one for loss, and a quarterback hurry. This season he has 39 combined tackles – fifth-best on the team. Head coach Dan Quinn said, “He’s always had the ability. You’ve heard how excited I have been about him, and then he had the ankle sprain, and we held him a little bit. But over the last few weeks he’s earned more playing time. As a linebacker, he plays really square behind the line of scrimmage, and that helps in your tackling. He’s got good anticipation. He’s a good communicator on the field. So he’s bigger than you think when you guys stand next to him. You know he’s different in size than Deion (Jones) and Duke (Riley). He’s more of a De’Vondre (Campbell) build. But I would just say it’s his versatility and tackling that’s allowed him to get more play time.”

GAME PLAN: After scheming for a stationary quarterback in Washington’s Alex Smith, the Falcons face another young mobile guy in Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield. The No. 1 draft pick has been instrumental in helping the Browns to a 2-6-1 record. Mayfield has thrown for 1,768 yards and 10 touchdowns with seven interceptions. He’s been sacked 22 times but rushed for 91 yards when scrambling. In last week’s loss to Kansas City, Mayfield threw for 297 yards and two touchdowns. Head coach Dan Quinn said, “He throws a really good deep ball and he has the confidence to throw it into tight windows. He has a quick release. When there is pressure there, it does not take a long time for the ball to get out.”

The Falcons will want to negate the running game, led by former University of Georgia star Nick Chubb, and apply heat to Mayfield. Newly acquired Bruce Irvin will be part of a package to get after Mayfield and force him to make some quick, perhaps ill-timed throws.

QUOTES TO NOTE: Bruce Irvin, an Atlanta native, on why he signed with the Falcons: “This was my dream come true. The Patriots and Steelers offered more money, but being able to play for my city and my people – you just can’t put a price on that.”

–Head coach Dan Quinn on the massive Julio Jones celebration after his touchdown last week, his first of the season: “That was for me probably the coolest part of the day. You got to see the meaning, everybody running down the sideline to get excited.”

–Falcons LB De’Vondre Campbell vs. Browns RB Duke Johnson Jr. The Cleveland running game centers around Nick Chubb (403 yards, seven TDs) but it is backup running back Johnson who may offer the biggest challenge as a receiver. Johnson has 115 yards rushing and has 29 catches and two touchdowns. Johnson has breakaway speed once he gets into the open field.

–Falcons CB Desmond Trufant vs. Browns WR Jarvis Landry. Trufant whiffed on a couple of interceptions last week that went right through his normally reliable hands. Landry has been targeted 101 times and has caught 55 passes for 578 yards and two touchdowns.