Cover 9@9: Tight end Jonnu Smith helped ignite the offense

Falcons tight end Jonnu Smith (81) breaks the defensive line during the second half against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. 
Miguel Martinz/miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Falcons tight end Jonnu Smith (81) breaks the defensive line during the second half against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.  Miguel Martinz/miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

1. The no-spin zone: Falcons tight end Jonnu Smith had some timely catches in the 25-24 win over the Packers on Sunday.

He finished with four catches for 47 yards, including a 17-yard grab to convert a third-and-7 during the second drive that led to a field goal.

“I was trying to give the offense some juice,” Smith said. “Guys feed off of that. I was able to do that and some of the guys were able to feed off some of the plays I made.”

Smith was acquired in an offseason trade with the Patriots. He played for coach Arthur Smith while in Tennessee.

“That’s what the offense is about,” Jonnu Smith said. “Feeding off the momentum. Executing when your number is called and also doing the dirty work. The dirty things. The dirty work that might not show up on the stat sheet, but it opened up another guy and that was part of the success.”

The Falcons’ passing attack made some strides against the Packers.

“We have a lot of clean up,” Smith said. “It’s Week 2, that’s why I am so glad to be a part of this group. We are never going to feel like we arrived. We are going to keep fighting, keep trucking and fighting to improve week in and week-out.”

Smith was ready when quarterback Desmond Ridder came his way.

“It’s the flow of the game, you just got to stay in it man and we got so many guys on the side of the ball that can take over the game,” Smith said.

The offense had 10 possessions against the Packers and scored on four in a row in the second half before ending the last possession with a kneel down. The Falcons had a field goal, touchdown, field goal and field goal to pull out the game.

Smith also had a catch for 10 yards to set up the 3-yard touchdown pass to Drake London. He added a 13-yard reception in the drive that ended with a 33-yard field goal to make it 17-12 in the third quarter.

“Well, it gives you another weapon, right?” Arthur Smith said of Jonnu Smith. “There’s so much focus sometimes on Kyle (Pitts). ... We’ve got a lot of weapons, and Jonnu is somebody that’s made plays in big-time games.”

2. Allgeier on the 2-0 record: Falcons running back Tyler Allgeier had 16 rushes for 48 yards against the Packers.

“It’s a good start to the season,” Allgeier said about being 2-0. “Our hard work has come through the past few weeks. Now, we are focusing on being 1-0 this week. It’s a good opportunity.”

Sports reporter Sarah K. Spencer talks to Falcons beat writer D. Orlando Ledbetter about the Falcons' 25-24 win vs. the Packers, which moves Atlanta to 2-0.

3. On Nate Landman: Linebacker Nate Landman made his first NFL start against the Packers and finished with four tackles. He made the team as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2022.

“Big Nate was out there crashing,” Falcons safety Richie Grant said. “He was crashing the party. He was super aggressive. He don’t care who it is, he’s going to come in head first. I love that aggression.”

4. Jared Goff leads the way: The Lions, who are led by quarterback Jared Goff, lost to Seattle 37-31 in overtime Sunday to drop to 1-1.

“We know we have a good challenge coming up, going on the road against Detroit,” Arthur Smith said. “They lost a tough one (to Seattle) in overtime. That place, I’m sure, will be rocking. So, it’ll be good to get into a foreign environment. It’ll be loud, there will be a lot of energy in the building. (We’ve) got to be ready to roll.”

Goff had a streak of 383 pass attempts without an interception until he tossed a costly pick-six against the Seahawks. It was the third longest streak in NFL history behind Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.

The Lions picked up Goff in a trade with the Rams as they moved on from longtime quarterback Matthew Stafford in 2021.

“Clearly, he has an elite skill set,” Arthur Smith said. “The guy has won a lot of games in this league as a starter. Took a team to a Super Bowl.”

Goff was 42-27 as a starter with the Rams and is 13-19-1 with the Lions. The Lions won eight of their final 10 games last season and had hoped to carry that momentum into the 2023 season.

5. Cominsky, Harris flourishing with Lions: Former Falcons John Cominsky and Charles Harris have found homes with the Lions.

Cominsky was taken in the fourth round by the Falcons in the 2019 draft. He played in only four games in 2021 as he didn’t really fit the Falcons’ 3-4 aligment. He now starts for the Lions, playing inside at defensive tackle.

The Falcons drafted him as a defensive end.

Harris, a former first-round pick by the Dolphins, played 13 games and made one start with the Falcons in 2020. He had 7.5 sacks for the Lions in 2021.

6. Series history: This will be the 40th meeting between the Lions and Falcons. The Lions lead the series 25-14. The Falcons have won six of the past 10 meetings. The Falcons won the last meeting 20-16 on Dec. 26, 2021.

7. Where to watch, listen and livestream Falcons at Lions: What you should know about Sunday’s game between the Atlanta Falcons (2-0) and the Detroit Lions (1-1), which is set for 1 p.m. Sunday at Ford Field in Detroit.

TV: Fox 5

Local radio: 92.9 The Game. Play-by-play: Wes Durham. Analyst: Dave Archer. Executive producer: Beau Morgan. Engineer: Miller Pope. Pregame/postgame show – Hosts: Chris Goforth and Mike Johnson, with Dylan Matthews and Orin Romain as studio producers.

Satellite radio: SiriusXM NFL Radio. Falcons channel 291 or the App. Lions channel 228 or on the App. (Games are also available on the SiriusXM App. Fans can find their team’s channel under the “NFL Play-by-Play” tab or by searching their team’s name.)

Livestream: Streaming inside the Atlanta market: Fans in the Atlanta market can stream the game on the Atlanta Falcons app. NFL app (subscription required). Out of the country: GamePass International.

8. Injury report: The Falcons came out of their win over the Packers without any major injuries.

“There were some bumps and bruises,” Arthur Smith said Monday. “It was a physical game, but nothing right now to report that’s of concern. Hopefully, we’ll get some of these other guys back. We’ll see what it looks like Wednesday.”

Running back Bijan Robinson went out of few plays after losing his breath on a hit to his stomach. He returned.

Cornerback Jeff Okudah (foot) and running back/wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (thigh) practiced last week, but were held out of the game. Linebacker Troy Andersen also was held out of the game after entering the league’s concussion protocol program.

“We are just trying to make the best decisions,” Smith said. “I feel good about where they are at. We’ll see how it looks Wednesday. Look at who realistically could be up. If they are up, how much they are going to play and what the plan is.”

Okudah was acquired in a trade with the Lions, who made him the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 draft.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC

The first-year Falcon talks about the defense, in-game adjustments and the back-to-back home victories to open the 2023 season.

9. Depth chart: Here’s a look at the Falcons’ official depth chart for the Lions game:

OFFENSE

WR Mack Hollins, KhaDarel Hodge

TE Kyle Pitts, MyCole Pruitt, John FitzPatrick

LT Jake Matthews, Isaiah Prince

LG Matthew Bergeron, Jovaughn Gwyn

C Drew Dalman, Ryan Neuzil

RG Chris Lindstrom, Kyle Hinton

RT Kaleb McGary, Isaiah Prince

TE Jonnu Smith

WR Drake London, Scotty Miller, Josh Ali

FB Keith Smith

RB Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier

J Cordarrelle Patterson

QB Desmond Ridder, Taylor Heinicke, Logan Woodside

DEFENSE

DL Grady Jarrett, Albert Huggins

DL David Onyemata, Ta’Quon Graham

DL Calais Campbell, Zach Harrison, Joe Gaziano

OLB Bud Dupree, Lorenzo Carter

ILB Kaden Elliss, Nate Landman

ILB Troy Andersen, Tae Davis

OLB Arnold Ebiketie, DeAngelo Malone

CB A.J. Terrell, Mike Hughes

S Jessie Bates, Jaylinn Hawkins

S Richie Grant, DeMarcco Hellams

NB Dee Alford, Clark Phillips III

CB Jeff Okudah, Tre Flowers

SPECIAL TEAMS

K Younghoe Koo

P Bradley Pinion

LS Liam McCullough

H Bradley Pinion

PR Dee Alford, Mike Hughes, *Scotty Miller

KOR Cordarrelle Patterson, Mike Hughes

* Added as third punt returner since he went in for Alford versus the Panthers.

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