Each week for my post game analysis, I will give one offensive and defensive Falcon player a little “sugar” for his “sweet” playing on the field. I will also give one player on the Falcons a little ”salt” for his salty, lackluster play for the week. Please feel free to leave comments and provide your own “Sugar and Salt” for the week. You can also tweet me at @ianborders7 or all of us at @bloggingdirty to provide input for your picks each week.
Sugar (offense)- Julio Jones- I feel it is necessary to start by saying there are about five offensive players more than worthy of this weeks ‘sugar’. Michael Turner in the second half (once Dallas’ nose tackle Jay Ratliff left the game) was back to the burner that he was in 2008 when he exploded onto the scene in Atlanta. Roddy White made big catch after big catch, and kept the chains moving on multiple 3rd downs. Matt Ryan, after surviving a death blow from a free rushing Demarcus Ware (how does that happen…) still threw for 342 yards on a night where he ‘struggled’. Jacquizz Rodgers had two unbelievable catch and jukes in the 4th quarter on 3rd downs when Cowboy defenders were trying to sever his upper body from his legs. It was truly a team effort to pull out this ugly win, but one guy is just flat out better than everyone he lines up against in every game, and that is second year wide reciever Julio Jones. Julio was pretending he was still at Alabama, juking rookie corner back (and LSU product) Maurice Clayborn out of his shoes, socks, and tape job all night. On his first thrown to play, he caught a bomb from Ryan while being held, popped up, and let the former rival know that even though they are now in the league going head to head, things haven’t changed. You better believe he was letting him know that his Tide pulled through the night before as well. I couldn’t help but love the fact that Julio lined up as a tailback for one crucial 3rd down play as well. Looking like a lanky Adrian Peterson, he caught the QB flip, juked Demarcus Ware, and sprinted forward like a train about to derail everything in its way. That eight yard run looked like Usain Bolt in the back stretch toward some Red Stripe. Dude is a beast; I wish he still had his Predator dreads so he were that much more intimidating. He finished the night with five catches for 129 yards. Just another day on the job for JUUUUUUULLLLLLIIIIIOOOOOOOO!
Sugar (defense)- Jonathan Babineaux - I haven’t given enough love to the interior defensive line this season, but I have no choice but to push them into the mix after this game. His constant push up the middle forced Tony Romo to the outsides, mainly because with the central push there was no quarterback pocket. Romo was able to squeak his way in and around the linemen like Stuart Little for most of the night, but Babineaux did punish him once for a big sack. In a night where the defense obviously missed Sean Weatherspoon, Babineaux provided pressure and recorded seven tackles, including five solo and two assisted.
Salt- Sam Baker’s first half- I’m not saying it is an easy task to block one of the best outside rushers in the league; I’m not even saying that you shouldn’t give up a sack every once in awhile; But one thing you must do is at least attempt to block the best pass rusher on the team (and maybe in the league). Two times in the first half Demarcus Ware came flying around the corner unblocked as Sam Baker double teamed one of the Cowboy defensive tackles. The first hit took the breath out of every Falcon fan watching the game as Matt Ryan was completely blindsided and whiplashed to the ground to be left with a white skid mark like his helmet had just been used to paint the field. At that point fans didn’t care about the fumble….We just wanted to make sure our quarterback and season was still alive! Things did get much better in the second half, and the adjustments were made to make sure that the protection was there for Ryan to make the big plays (mainly I think because Jay Ratliff went out of the game). The number one priority for the season is to keep Ryan up right, and that should be a full game task. Anytime a blocker is watching someone fly by him while he doubles another guy bad things happen. I’m just happy that Ryan popped up and was ready for the next snap. Too many more of those though and we can stop talking about play-offs…. All that said…. 8-0!!! Rise up!