The Falcons have won 21 games over the past two regular seasons in part by being talented and in part by being lucky. Apart from Desmond Trufant, hurt in Tampa in November 2016, they’ve sustained no long-term injury to a significant player. (Vic Beasley missed a month last year and Devonta Freeman had his concussions, but both were available for the postseason.) In 2018, they’ve sustained two in one game.
The Falcons believe Jones will return from his foot ailment at some point, but three of the next four opponents are Carolina, New Orleans and Pittsburgh. They’re 0-1, and they can’t afford to lose many more so early. And Neal and Jones, not to put too fine a point on it, were essentially the model for the fast-’n’-furious defense Dan Quinn envisioned.