The Falcons need to score serious points if they’re going to beat the Saints, but doing that without Julio Jones is going to be impossible for Matt Ryan.
It’s very important for the Atlanta Falcons to protect their home field against the Saints on Sunday. If Matt Ryan is going to guide his team to a big win, they’re going to need to keep up with Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense. If Julio Jones is forced to miss the game due to injury, it’s going to make life exceedingly difficult on Dan Quinn’s team.
Unfortunately for Falcons fans, Jones didn’t practice with his teammates on Wednesday due to a calf injury. The team hasn’t given any indication what his status for the Saints game is, but it’s clearly not a good sign that he needed to take a day off.
If Jones does miss the game, it’s going to take increased contributions from everyone else on the Falcons offense. Specifically, Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu would need to step up big time. Sanu’s had some big games during his career, but he’s better suited to play in the slot.
Ridley bounced back from an anonymous debut to put in a solid effort against the Panthers in Week 2. The rookie clearly benefits from all the attention Jones commands from opposing defenses. It’s highly unlikely he’d be able to carry the load of being the team’s No. 1 wide receiver against a talented Saints secondary.
The possibility of Devonta Freeman missing the game only adds to the need for Jones to play. He missed practice on Wednesday as well. Tevin Coleman broke the 100-yard mark against Carolina last week, but betting on him to replicate that effort seems overly optimistic.
Ultimately, this game is going to come down to Ryan’s ability to produce big plays in the passing game. The New Orleans defense has really struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but they have too much talent to play that poorly three weeks in a row. The chances of them bouncing back against their NFC South rivals are pretty high.
Falcons fans should pay close attention to whether or not Jones can get back on the practice field Thursday. If he’s forced to sit out again it’s going to lower his chances of playing on Sunday considerably. His absence would also drastically reduce Atlanta’s chances of knocking off the Saints.