As the 1-3 Atlanta Falcons prepare to face the 2-2 Houston Texans, the Falcons only focused on getting themselves back on the right track. Questions arose after the loss against Tennessee concerning team leadership is a cause for concern. Wide receiver Julio Jones questioned why the Falcons’ performance has been wildly inconsistent.

“We’re a way better ballclub than we presented last Sunday. It’s all around. It’s the way we took the field, the way we executed, everything …” Jones said. “We played hard as hell, always, but just detail-wise it was always one guy here and there … For me, my message was just everybody have fun, but just get on your details then go out here and cut it loose.”

Has starting quarterback Matt Ryan been doing everything to lead these dirty birds to victory? On paper, the answer is simply yes.

Ryan is passing for 331.3 yards per game, totaling the second most in the league. An added emphasis is Ryan’s completion of 70.5% of his passes mounting to fourth best in a league where consistency is hard to come across. 

However,  Ryan has seven turnovers through the first four games (six interceptions and one lost fumble).

Meanwhile, the Texans come into Sunday’s contest with the fifth best rushing yards per carry in the NFL (5.12). Running backs Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde have done an excellent job in the absence of the starter, Lamar Miller. Johnson averages 6.3 yards per carry and Johnson averages 4.8 yards per rush. 

One of the keys to a Falcons victory is frustrating Houston’s star quarterback, Deshaun Watson. While he grew up a Falcons fan in Gainesville and was even a ball boy during training camp, Watson has been sacked 18 times, the third most in the National Football League and hit 30 times. Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett along with Jack Crawford and Adrian Clayborn must clog the running lanes while defensive ends Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley must maintain rush lanes in order to keep Watson from running. In the loss against the Titans, Jarrett posted tallied eight tackles (one solo) and one QB hit. 

Watson was not sacked in the Texans’ game against the Chargers in week one. However, the former Clemson signal caller was sacked six times last week against the Panthers. Coming into the contest, Atlanta has given up 24.8 points per game, fourth worst in the NFL. 

“It’s moreso we’re just a better ballclub, but we can’t get that right until everybody collectively just does their job instead of worrying about somebody else’s job,” Jones explained.

Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman speak during an NFL game between the Tennessee Titans and Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium: Photo: The Atlanta Voice/Trarell Torrence

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