Atlanta Falcons: 5 Players Who Will Stumble in Week 2
Which Atlanta Falcons Will Struggle in Week 2?
As the Atlanta Falcons face the St. Louis Rams in Week 2 of the 2013 NFL season, they will have a substantial amount of pressure on them. After suffering a tough 23-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints in their season opener, the Falcons need a more fluid performance this week in order to show that last week was just a small hiccup and not a serious indicator of what's to come.
Though they've been one of the NFL's least successful franchises in recent years, the Rams will in no way be an easy defeat for the Falcons this year. Following an offseason retooling of their offense, the Rams were able to take down the Arizona Cardinals last week and will look to stay undefeated in Week 2. A victory over the highly-regarded Falcons would give the Rams a huge amount of credibility going forward, and perhaps will cause people to take them more seriously in their battle for the NFC West with the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.
The most highly-publicized storyline emerging from this week's game should be Steven Jackson's first game against his old team. The 30-year-old running back left the Rams this offseason, and now we'll get to see which party knows the other's tendencies better as they go head-to-head.
This game has a pretty large level of importance for both teams, but it's particularly significant for the Falcons, as an 0-2 start would be a large point of concern for the team that many believe is the league's most talented. Here are five Falcons that could falter on Sunday against the Rams.
5. Tony Gonzalez, TE
Gonzalez always has a good chance to make an impact due to his athleticism and receiving ability, but this game may be the one where it is most difficult for the 37-year-old to put up big numbers. He'll have to contend with Alec Ogletree, the Rams' 6-foot-3, 240-pound first-rounder, who is able to take advantage of his past experience as a safety at Georgia to shut things down in the middle of the field. The Arizona Cardinals' tight ends obviously are not as talented as Gonzalez, but the Rams held tight end Jim Dray to two catches for 21 yards last week. If Gonzalez wants to make plays, he will probably have to get deep into the open field, where he only has to defeat inexperienced Rams safeties Rodney McLeod and T.J. McDonald.
4. Osi Umenyiora, DE
The 31-year-old Umenyiora is obviously past his prime, as he had the best numbers of his career back in 2005, and his sack totals have steadily decreased over the past three seasons. He should have some significant difficulty dealing with Rams left tackle Jake Long this weekend, especially if the Rams double him up with blocking tight ends Lance Kendricks or Cory Harkey.
3. Desmond Trufant, CB
Trufant was a first-rounder and has the potential to be a very good cornerback. But just like any defensive back starting his second NFL game, there's a big chance that he will blow his coverage and give up a big play or two. This is particularly concerning for Trufant, considering he'll have to go up against Rams wideout Chris Givens, who has a knack for getting past defenders and making big plays.
2. Steven Jackson, RB
Jackson's statistics from last week don't look that bad at first glance, but when you really get to analyzing them, it's easy to realize that he did not have a very good day. The former Ram had 11 carries for 77 yards, which included a 50-yard run. Therefore, he averaged 2.7 yards over his remaining carries. In addition, he dropped three passes, including a potential game-winner. With the Falcons having to go up against the Rams this week, including one of the best run-stuffing defensive tackles in the league in Michael Brockers, don't expect Jackson to do much better.
1. Lamar Holmes, RT
Last week was Rams defensive end Robert Quinn's chance to shine, as he repeatedly got past Arizona left tackle Levi Brown and ended up with three sacks. This week is left end Chris Long's chance to shine, as he'll be matched up against Lamar Holmes, who is starting his second career game at right tackle. Though Holmes has some impressive size at 6-foot-6 and 333 pounds, the bottom line is that a lack of previous game experience is one of the biggest obstacles a young lineman has to deal with. Even though Long has been slowed by a hip injury in recent weeks, it should still be very difficult for Holmes to hang with the six-year veteran who has 24.5 sacks over the past two seasons.