Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange

December 13, 2018 at 12:54 am.


–WR Julio Jones fought through a hand issue last week and caught eight passes for 106 yards. He became the first player in NFL history with five straight seasons of 1,400 yards. Marvin Harrison did it in four consecutive years.

–QB Matt Ryan has surpassed Peyton Manning for the most passing yards by a player in their first 11 seasons. Ryan has thrown for 45,872 yards in his career that began in 2008.

–TE Austin Hooper injured his ankle against the Packers and did not return to the game. Head coach Dan Quinn said the injury wasn’t as bad as feared, but did not put a label on Hooper’s availability for the Arizona game.

–OL Ty Sambrailo will continue to get some snaps at right tackle. The 2018 draft pick helped improve pass protection, head coach Dan Quinn said.

–DL Steven Means got passing marks from head coach Dan Quinn after his most playing time against the Packers. Quinn said Means, who had three tackles, showed the quickness and play-making ability that he has seen in practice.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Brian Hill is a running back by trade, but his physical style of play is earning him some looks at fullback. Hill, in his first season with the Falcons, has distinguished himself on special teams. Hill (6-1, 219) saw action in six games last year with the Bengals. He signed with the Falcons as a free agent. “I like the downhill style and the physicality that he can play with,” head coach Dan Quinn said. He pointed out how other teams do the same thing. Tampa Bay used Earnest Graham in the same manner.

“Not to compare Brian with another player, but he (Graham) was a guy that played halfback and made the move to fullback,” Quinn said. “I had my eye on that topic.”

Hill was signed to the practice squad, but was promoted to the active roster for the second week. Hill got his first rush of the season last week against the Packers and gained 5 yards.

If Hill has the versatility to play tailback and fullback, it will make him more valuable and would save the team a roster spot.
GAME PLAN: Atlanta will try to establish the run again this week against a Cardinals defense that struggles against ground attacks. Arizona ranks 32nd in the league in rushing yards allowed. That’s good news for the Falcons, who have struggled to run the ball with much conviction during their five-game losing streak. Head coach Dan Quinn said he was still committed to running the ball, which means Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith will need to be effective in order to make things better for quarterback Matt Ryan.

–Falcons QB Matt Ryan vs. Cardinals DE Chandler Jones. Ryan has faced the Cardinals five times and beaten them on four occasions. He has averaged 289 yards per game, with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions for an 86.9 rating. When he faced the Cardinals in 2012, Ryan became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw five interceptions and still win. He needs only five completions to pass Hall of Famer Warren Moon for 10th place on the all-time list. Jones has 12 sacks and 17 quarterback hits this season.

–Falcons WR Julio Jones vs. Cardinals S Tre Boston. The Falcons’ top receiver has had mixed success against the Cardinals. He has struggled in two games, catching three passes for 33 yards in the first meeting and four passes for 35 yards in the third. But sandwiched in between is a 10-catch game for 189 yards and one touchdown in 2014. Jones is having another monster year with 94 receptions for a league-leading 1,429 yards. The Cards rank fourth in the league in pass defense.