Cover 9@9: Rookie class earns ‘incomplete’ midterm grade with Lindstrom out

Our weekly list of nine things that you need to know about the Atlanta Falcons.

1. Rookie Mid-Term Grades: With the loss of rookie Chris Lindstrom in the first game of the season to a broken fifth metatarsal in his right foot, the Falcons' rookie draft class gets an "Incomplete" grade for the first half of the season.

Lindstrom, an opening day starter, was supposed to help solidify the interior of the passing pocket and help the Falcons maul defenders in the run game.

“We hope that we get Chris back sometime this year,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “We’ll see where we are on that. It’s nothing to report yet, but he’s following along the guidelines. He’s working like he has a chance to.”

» MORE: Falcons get a C- for 2019 draft class

The Falcons other first round pick, right tackle Kaleb McGary has started all eight games. He’s a strong run blocker, but scouts said he’s struggled against elite speed. He did struggle against the Rams and Dante Fowler, who gave him the business all day long.

“It’s good to see McGary bounce back like he has,” Quinn said. “His physicality shows up. He’s had some great challenges already early on in his rookie year, but to see him answer and respond, see that kind of physicality jump out, that’s been a good thing.”

Falcons draft picks

Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and offensive line coach Chris Morgan said that McGary has to “shoot his hands” faster and they are working on that with him.

Cornerback Kendall Sheffield, a fourth-round pick from Ohio State, has played well.

“We’ve seen him outside,” Quinn aid. “You’ve seen him at nickel. You’ve seen him as a kick returner. Getting this kind of experience to develop, man, you can't put a price on that.”

Defensive end/tackle John Cominsky, a fourth round pick from Charleston, suffered an ankle injury against the Seahawks. He has played 63 defensive snaps (11.5%) and 28 snaps on special teams (12.5%). He has six tackles on the season.

“You’re earning some trust and getting some playing experience,” Quinn said of Cominsky. “You can imagine the jump that John’s made, just where he was playing football last fall, and now where he’s playing football this year. It’s a big jump. He’s progressing at a good space.”

Quinn said he doesn’t believe that Cominsky’s ankle injury is serious.

“Hopefully, through the week we’ll have a good chance for him to be back, hopefully, the week after our bye,” Quinn said.

Running back Qadree Ollison, a fifth round pick, has been inactive for all eight games.

“He’s in a deep running back room, so going into it, at the end of the (exhibition) season, we even played him some at fullback, and then we added Keith Smith,” Quinn said. “We’re working on him. He’s developing  (and working) hard.”

Ollison may not see the field this season.

“It’s more a by-product of the room,” Quinn said. “We didn’t have Brian Hill up all the time, and he’s somebody that’s earned more playing time. Ito (Smith) and Brian, it’s been a hard rotation to crack.”

Cornerback Jordan Miller, a fifth rounder, is finding some time on special teams. He’s played 54 special teams snaps (24.5%) and one defensive snap (.02%).

“Usually, if you’re a receiver or a corner and you’re not part of the starting group, that’s where some of your development will take place,” Quinn said.

Marcus Green, the sixth round pick, was cut. He’s on the Eagles practice squad.

Undrafted wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus has played five offensive snaps (.9%) and 16 special teams snaps (7.3%).

2. No market for Beasley?: The trade deadline passed quietly in Atlanta. We explained in this space (item 7) last week that there was no trade value for Beasley and that the Falcons would be "stuck" with him.

NFL Media, which is partly owned by the team, said there was a market, but the Falcons turned down offers to stick with Beasley. Our pal "Hometeam" Brandon Leak, the  co-host of The Hometeam & (Joe) Hamilton Show @AtlantaSportsx 106.3 FM | 1230 AM, was not too happy about this development.

3. Farewell to Matt Bryant: AJC columnist Mark Bradley takes a walk down memory lane with kicker Matt Byrant, who was released Tuesday. His field goal against Seattle sent the Falcons to the NFC Championship game back during the 2012 season.

4. First half blues: The Falcons have been outscored 144 to 50 in the first half. That's an average of 18 points to 6.25.

“What’s it been like?” Quinn said. “You really want to know that? It makes you mad as hell because we’re not hitting the mark that you want to (and know) that we’re capable of.”

One theory is that the Falcons are not ready to play. Another theory, is that the other teams have just been better football squads.

“When you have that happen, yeah, you’re upset about it,” Quinn said. “You want it to change.”

Quinn says he believes the team is good enough.

“For whatever reason, this is a good team that has a bad record, and we have not had that kind of chemistry to play all complementary football together,” Quinn said. “Whether it’s penalties or inconsistencies or turnover margin — all sorts of things factor into having a losing record, and the three things I just listed are at the front of the list.

“Not taking care of the ball, not creating takeaways, fouls, those are things to go. When you do it right, you want to hang on to that to say this is what it looks like.”

5. Blown coverages: There is a picture on Twitter of the Falcons' security guard throwing up his hands in disgust as he watches a wide open DK Metcalf catch a touchdown pass. It happened twice as the Seahawks built a 24-0 halftime lead.

Eight games into the season, the Falcons should not have so many blown coverages.

“On the first one, yeah, not getting set and came out of the huddle and quick counted us,” Quinn said. “We had been prepared for that. The Rams had a long history of doing that. We just practiced quite a bit of that the week prior.”

So, the defense was not set and ready to play on the first one.

“On the second one, we were going to play two players in a certain way, and a miscommunication took place amongst two players,” Quinn said. “Obviously, there’s a bust that took place somehow in some way.”

6. A look at other 1-7 teams: No team has ever started the season 1-7 and gone on to make the playoffs.  So, maybe the Falcons can make some history.

7. Irwin-Hill up next?: Matt Bosher can't come off of injured reserved until December, so the Falcons will sign a punter to fill one of the three roster openings.

The Falcons were set to sign Australian punter Sam Irwin-Hill, but opted for Kasey Redfern when Irwin-Hill ran into U.S. visa issues.

Redfern was released Tuesday.

8. Worst start since 1996: The Falcons are off to the franchise's worst start in 23 years.

The 2003 Falcons also started 1-7, but that was the year Michael Vick suffered a broken ankle in an exhibition game against the Ravens.

Vick came back and played in the final five games as they went on to finish 5-11. Coach Dan Reeves was fired with three games to go.

9. Depth chart: There are three openings on the 53-man roster, the Falcons waived quarterback Danny Etling, cornerback D.J. White and Redfern. Etling was later signed to the practice squad.

Redfern, who also handled kickoffs, was signed before the Arizona game Oct. 13. He played in three games for the Falcons and had a net average of 36.9 yards on nine punts.

Etling was active Sunday as the backup to Matt Schaub.

Matt Ryan (ankle sprain) is expected back after the bye week.


WR 11 Julio Jones, 18 Calvin Ridley, 83 Russell Gage
LT 70 Jake Matthews, 75 John Wetzel 
LG 68 77 James Carpenter, 71 Wes Schweitzer
C 51 Alex Mack, 71 Wes Schweitzer
RG 68 Jamon Brown, 71 Wes Schweitzer
RT 76 Kaleb McGary, 74 Ty Sambrailo, 73 Matt Gono 
TE 81 Austin Hooper, 80 Luke Stocker, 87 Jaeden Graham
WR 18 Calvin Ridley, 14 Justin Hardy, 17 Olamide Zaccheaus
QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 Matt Schaub
RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 25 Ito Smith, 38 Kenjon Barner, 23 Brian Hill, 32 Qadree Ollison
FB 40 Keith Smith


DE 98 Takkarist McKinley, 99 Adrian Clayborn
DT 97 Grady Jarrett, 95 Jack Crawford
DT 96 Tyeler Davison, 94 Deadrin Senat
DE 93 Allen Bailey, 50 John Cominsky
DE 44 Vic Beasley
LB 59 De'Vondre Campbell, 54 Foyesade Oluokun
LB 45 Deion Jones, 53 Jermaine Grace
CB 26 Isaiah Oliver, 27 Damontae Kazee

CB 21 Desmond Trufant, 20 Kendall Sheffield, 33 Blidi Wreh-Wilson, 28 Jordan Miller
S 37 Ricardo Allen, 41 Sharrod Neasman
SS 36 Kemal Ishmael, 35 Jamal Carter


K Younhoe Koo

KO  (Maybe Sam Irwin-HIll)
P  (Maybe Sam Irwin-Hill)
LS 47 Josh Harris
H 8 Matt Schaub
KOR 38 Kenjon Barner, Ito Smith
PR Kenjon Barner


Subscribe to "The Bow Tie Chronicles" podcast with the AJC's D. Orlando Ledbetter on iTunes or on the new AJC sports podcasts page.

About the Author