The surprisingly struggling Atlanta Falcons, say that twice, just might have stunning and unfortunate news about playmaker Julio Jones. The dominating receiver really hurt his knee in Monday Night Football’s loss to the visiting New York Jets. Starting 1-4, they still think they will turn this season around because of high expectations, this illustrates the significance of staying healthy. When you really think about it, the consistency of preventing injuries is the best quality a team can have. Heading into a bye week with running back Steven Jackson preparing to return, both standout receivers missed practice along with seven other starters. Roddy White has been dealing with a hamstring issue, now Jones hurts his knee and might be sidelined for the year. Jones and the Falcons camp are seeking a second medical opinion.
Worst-case scenario, he’s out for the year. So you roll with Harry Douglas and the other receivers on the roster that are utilized on special teams, maybe there’s a gem that was caught in an overcrowded numbers game at the position. Drew Davis and Kevin Cone are similarly built in the mold of the starters. Douglas may very well rise to the occasion if it unfortunately came to fruition. He could either seize the opportunity like Torrie Smith of the Ravens did, or continue to excel in his role as receiver in the slot. Outside possibilities like signing Chad Johnson or Terrelle Owens isn’t realistic, a team in shambles taking that risk could contaminate the locker room. I like those guys and I want to give them the benefit of the doubt as a fan. From a locker room perspective the writing is on the wall until they prove to be in a league of extraordinary gentlemen. Trade scenarios could and should involve Hakeem Nicks of the Giants, Justin Blackmon of the Jaguars, or Josh Gordon of the Browns.
At least the bye week came at the right time, a couple of weeks to watch film, to recover, and to adjust accordingly to face the Buccaneers in the dome at home. I think they could manage without Jones as-is, like they did before his arrival to Atlanta. The thing is, the defense isn’t doing much so the comfort level would increase if they went out to get a receiver. The counter for that, they still have future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez. Well, White is playing hurt and hasn’t topped 45 yards so far. I mean, Josh Gordon is available for a second round pick. A lot of teams should be calling, like perhaps the Eagles, Lions or Patriots.
Jeremy Maclin was lost for the year and no other receiver can get separation like Desean Jackson, also draws double coverage. Detroit might have Calvin Johnson’s knee issue lingering for awhile, and even then they lost Nate Burleson to a broken arm which scales the offense back. That’s why they lost at Green Bay last week. New England plays a rotation of big rookie wideouts, Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins, with a couple of veteran possession receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. The Patriots will probably stand “pat” with the return of superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski.
As far as rooting for a player goes, I don’t see the Jaguars shipping Maurice Jones-Drew anywhere. On that note, Jacksonville will definitely improve offensively, as Justin Blackmon debuted last week going over 100 yards to join Cecil Shorts on the outside.
I’m going to keep saying this because there are teams that aren’t finding success: Tim Tebow should be competing for a spot, especially with a couple injuries to quarterbacks recently. Tampa Bay parts ways with Josh Freeman, which benefits Minnesota by bringing in a third signal caller to the mix. Cleveland lost Brian Hoyer for the season, who split the amount of games started with Brandon Weeden. Whatever competition that Hoyer appeared to win, evaporated when that hit to the knee put him on the shelf. Weeden might have learned from the competition to find himself improved for it, I just can’t buy into that after watching Hoyer go 2-0. Jacksonville is being defiant despite shuffling between underwhelming names like Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne. The offense looks better with Henne at the helm, and for whatever reason they want to give us, is starting this week at Denver. They are 28-point underdogs, the largest that betters have seen in awhile, so needless to say Henne will have a ton of opportunities playing from behind.
Over in Philadelphia someone is showing his urgency, understanding the position he’s in. After popping his hamstring and missing the second half of last week’s win in the Meadow Lands, Michael Vick was practicing. It was reported that Vick was going to miss next week against Tampa, and possibly the following week at Dallas, but he’s pushing himself to stay ahead of Nick Foles on the depth chart. You’ve heard my claims for starting Foles the past two years now, so don’t be surprised that he played well in relief when Vick went down. The same guy to paint this exact picture as to why he started Vick in the first place, it was only a matter of time until he got injured which gives Foles the opportunity. Be enamored with Vick’s running ability, and he did throw some nice passes in the first half, but so far he’s held the ball too long and can’t see over the middle of the field. The Giants stacked the box against running back LeSean McCoy and Foles stepped up to move the chains and score points. This will be the case all season, according to plan: Vick will play when Vick can, while Foles will play when Vick can’t.