Five things we learned from the Falcons’ 26-24 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday at the Georgia Dome in the season opener.
1. No one can defend Jones. Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones could not be covered.
Jones, who caught nine passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns, dominated his matchup with Eagles cornerback Byron Maxwell. He was moved around the formation and beat Maxwell deep on comeback routes, on quick slants, scored on a 4-yard screen play and beat him for a 22-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Maxwell, a former star at Clemson, signed with the Eagles after starring for Seattle under Falcons coach Dan Quinn.
The Falcons wanted to sign him in free agency, but they had too many needs to splurge on one big-ticket free agent.
Jones received a five-year, $71.25 million extension this offseason and Maxwell was the top cornerback in free agency and received a $63 million deal from the Eagles.
Jones, who is in his fifth season in the NFL, used his savvy and experience to beat Maxwell, who has just 18 NFL starts.
2. Fast and physical. Free safety Ricardo Allen, who was converted from cornerback by the new coaching staff, came up with the game-clinching interception with 1:11 to play.
The Falcons’ defense showed that their strong play in the exhibition season wasn’t a fluke for the first half.
They forced four punts in the first quarter and rookies Grady Jarrett and Vic Beasley Jr. put some heat on Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford in the second quarter.
With the Falcons up 13-3, Jarrett broke free and leveled Bradford. His pass intended for Zach Ertz floated right to Allen.
On the next play, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan tossed a 22-yard touchdown pass to Jones.
3. Who needs Jake Long? The Falcons' offensive line had a strong effort.
Center Mike Person was making his first NFL start. Left guard Andy Levitre, who was acquired in a trade with Tennessee, held up well.
Ryan had plenty of time to pass and they opened up holes in the running game.
Despite the strong effort, the Falcons are set to sign free agent tackle Jake Long, who has been in for two workouts. The Falcons didn’t sign him before the first game because his contract would have been guaranteed for the season.
4. Bosher's booming punts. Falcons punter Matt Bosher continue to boom his punts.
He placed one down at the 5-yard line in the third quarter.
5. Coleman steps forward. Rookie Tevin Coleman is the top running back.
He was able to bounce runs outside and showed that he had a better understanding of the one-cut and go function of the outside-zone perimeter attack.
Running back Devonta Freeman, who did not play during the exhibition season because of a hamstring injury, was tentative and went backward on a third-and-1 play instead of popping into the hole.
Freeman caught the ball nicely out of the backfield.
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