Several Atlanta Falcons players were recognized recently by ESPN as they revealed their NFC South players of the decade.
It should come as no surprise that the Atlanta Falcons had four players named to the All-Decade NFC South team when ESPN released their picks on June 19th. Those four players do not include Matt Ryan who was an “honorable mention”.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver was named the Falcons player of the decade by ESPN.
"Jones, the sixth overall pick in the 2011 draft, has been a consistent high-level performer and unstoppable force. Jones, 31, has recorded six straight seasons of at least 80 catches and 1,300 receiving yards. His current career average of 96.2 receiving yards per game is the best such mark in NFL history. The seven-time Pro Bowler has 797 career catches on 1,258 targets for 12,125 receiving yards and 57 touchdowns. Jones has 4,019 career yards after the catch."
While no one will argue with Julio being named the Falcons players of the decade, one could argue that he only had all of those numbers because of Matt Ryan. The “Matt Ryan is only successful because of Julio Jones” theory has been disproven many times by simply looking around the league.
There are plenty of high caliber receivers that were unable to lift a quarterback to new heights and there have been plenty of receivers to have had success with Matt Ryan only to leave and not be heard from again in the league.
The Atlanta Falcons did have two players chosen as part of the ESPN All-Decade defense.
Moore was selected by the Falcons in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft. He spent his entire NFL career with the Falcons where he accumulated 11 forced fumbles, 364 tackles, and 16 interceptions. He was named a Pro-Bowl selection in 2012 when he started 12 games in for Falcons at strong safety.
Desmond Trufant was selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft and quickly developed into one of the league’s best corners. Unfortunately for Tru, he suffered an injury in 2016 and never quite recovered.
He started all 97 games he appeared in for the Falcons and ended his time with the Falcons with 13 interceptions and 79 deflected passes.
The last selection was kicker Matt Bryant. Bryant actually spent most of his career in the NFC South, playing with the Bucs from 2005-2008 and then with the Atlanta Falcons from 2009 until his release after seven games.
Bryant left the Falcons as one of, if not the, best kickers the franchise has ever had. He holds nearly every record in that area for the franchise and it unlikely the Falcons will see another like him for some time. Unfortunately for Matt, age is undefeated and he simply ran out of gas at the age of 44.