Second Look: Grading the Falcons first half of 2019
Wide Receivers – A
The wide receivers have been great to start the season. They have dropped a total of nine passes through the first eight games. The most impressive is Julio Jones.
Julio is usually among the top guys in the league in dropped passes. However, through eight games, Julio has been targeted 74 times, with 50 catches and just one drop. One. Absolutely impressive from the league’s best wide receiver.
While we have no idea how the Mohamed Sanu trade will affect the Falcons the remainder of the season, Calvin Ridley is ready to step into that number two role while Justin Hardy and Russell Gage are more than good enough to step into that third spot and not miss a beat. Gage is one of just two Falcons that have been targeted more than 10 times and has zero drops.
Tight ends – A
Luke Stocker and Jaeden Graham have been fine, neither are a big part of the offense, but neither has given anyone reason to wish they were not on the roster.
However, the tight ends earned an A because of Austin Hooper.
Austin Hooper has been the best tight end in the National Football League and that is not debatable at this point. Hooper leads the Falcons in receptions (52) and touchdowns (5) and along with Russell Gage, is the only primary target without a drop this season.
Hooper leads all tight ends in the NFL in receptions and is tied with Darren Fells of the Texans for the most touchdowns among tight ends. He has announced his arrival to the NFL and the Falcons are the beneficiary.
Quarterback – A
This might be debatable given the Falcons 1-7 overall record. However, the Falcons issues do not stem from the quarterback position.
The Falcons lead the NFL in passing yards with 2,536 and are tied for second with 17 passing touchdowns with the Seahawks and are just one passing touchdown behind the Chiefs for the overall lead in the NFL.
Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub are both completing more than 70 percent of their passes on the season and have been great in the second half of games when the Falcons really needed them the most. The one knock that you can put on the quarterbacks is the slow start to games, but that is not squarely on the quarterback’s hands.