CHARLOTTE — Fans were making their way back to their own chairs, and press members their way through the hot dog line, when Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan hit streaking wide receiver Calvin Ridley to get a 75-yard touchdown.
The Falcons’ first play of the 2nd half against the Carolina Panthers — a play that took all of nine moments — emphasized quickly the Falcons’ offense can hit when hitting all cylinders.
If only it may have been that easy throughout the whole 2018 season.
Sunday’s game did not mean much regarding the year, with the Falcons already eliminated from playoff contention. But seeing the offense click at a high degree and hit explosive plays has been something to build upon heading prior to the off season.
Ryan also hit Mohamed Sanu using a 44-yard touchdown strike Sunday, choosing the reliable Sanu stride.
Oh yeah, and let us not forget about this Julio Jones guy. The six-time Pro Bowler entered the match questionable with rib and hip injuries, yet he showed no indications to be sporadically throughout a 1-yard touchdown reception. Jones hurried from one side of this end zone to one other so as to make separation. And the end result was his seventh touchdown from the past eight games. He also started the season with no touchdowns throughout his first seven games.
Coach Dan Quinn emphasized after the match simply how far the running game helped establish those up huge playoffs with play-action. Atlanta had 194 rushing yards on the day, headed by Brian Hill‘s 115 yards.
The Falcons know that they have a reliable franchise indulged in Ryan, and also the weapons make the future look that far more promising. General director Thomas Dimitroff said the team plans to renegotiate Jones’ contract after the growing season, also Jones is signed through 2020. Sanu, who probably doesn’t receive enough credit for being a reliable third-down target, great blocker and wild cat dual threat, also is signed through’20. Ridley is only completing the first year of his four-year newcomer deal which comprises a fifth-year alternative.
That doesn’t indicate that the Falcons have all of their offensive issues resolves, by any stretch. An NFL Network report has already surfaced in regards to the team preparing to proceed by offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. If this report is true, then the Falcons could need to get an experienced coordinator with the capacity of taking the offense to a new degree with so many dangerous pieces.
The Falcons also have to shore up the offensive line, particularly the interior in the shield spots next to Pro Bowl center Alex Mack. And the benching of right address Ryan Schraeder probably means that area has to be speech this off season, too.
The likely return of Pro Bowl Devonta Freeman from groin surgery just should produce the offense that far more explosive, unless the Falcons have other plans about how best to tackle the running back situation. The thought of a Freeman-Tevin Coleman duo just similar to what they had throughout the Super Bowl run sounds appealing, but not financially feasible for the Falcons.
These certainly were feared coming to the season. Sunday revealed why competitors should on high alert in 2019.