China Authentic Mens Atlanta Falcons Matt Ryan Nike Red Game Jersey

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The Atlanta Falcons’ offense was stagnant, stuck back somewhere on I-85 in Atlanta in rush-hour traffic with nowhere to go.

Then reigning MVP Matt Ryan stepped up and made a play, thanks, in large part, to the teammate he called “California Cool” last season.

Ryan avoided pressure, almost fell to the ground, kept his balance, then hurled a pass down the middle of the field to Austin Hooper. The second-year tight end was wide open after the Chicago Bears blew an assignment, and then Hooper proceeded to stiff-arm Quintin Demps down the right sideline and rumble all the way to the end zone for an 88-yard fourth-quarter score and a 20-10 Falcons lead.

“I was uncovered, and Matt threw it to me,” said Hooper, who had another catch and stiff-arm on a 40-yard reception that set up a field goal. “And I scored. That was basically what happened. That was, like, it. Caught the ball, was completely uncovered, stiff-armed the dude, kept running. That was it. It wasn’t, like, nothing crazy.”

That play was the boost the Falcons needed on a day the offense looked far from dominant in a 23-17 season-opening victory, a win sealed by Brooks Reed’s game-ending sack of Bears quarterback Mike Glennon. Remember, the Falcons averaged a league-best 33.8 points per game last season and went 12-1 in games in which they scored 30 points or more. But Ryan and the Falcons didn’t expect an easy time against a formidable Bears defense.

And it wasn’t.

“We won the game, and at the end of the day, that’s why we prepare all week, is to come away with a win,” Ryan said. “Can we play better? Absolutely. Are we going to try and work on that? For sure. But we’ll take a win any day.”

A little rust was expected, of course. The offense, coordinated by Kyle Shanahan (now the 49ers’ head coach) last season, is under the watch of first-time NFL coordinator Steve Sarkisian, whose first big third-down playcall resulted in a 1-yard loss for running back Tevin Coleman from the Bears’ 29-yard line. The Falcons had to settle for Matt Bryant’s 48-yard field goal.

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Ryan’s final numbers certainly looked impressive as he completed 21 of 30 passes for 321 yards, with the touchdown to Hooper and a passer rating of 116.1. And Hooper had two catches for 128 yards, along with two nasty stiff-arms. But receiver Julio Jones had a quiet day — four catches for 66 yards — despite starting with a bang. He said the Bears showed different pre-snap looks and switched up their coverage. But there were times when it appeared Jones had single coverage and was wide open down the sports jerseys wholesale

“I pretty much have my guy beat every play,” Jones said. “That’s my confidence when I’m on the field.”

The running back combo of Devonta Freeman and Coleman managed just 53 yards on 20 carries, although Freeman scored on a 5-yard touchdown.

Naturally, the Falcons will have to fine-tune elements of the offense as they head into next Sunday’s NFC Championship Game rematch with the Green Bay Packers. Jones drew one-one-one coverage against the Bears and didn’t seem to get enough opportunities. The play-action game wasn’t so effective, although it seemed to work occasionally as it did so many times last season. Folks will question if Sarkisian was aggressive enough in certain situations. And the offensive line, particularly new starting right guard Wes Schweitzer, got beat up physically up front in too many instances.

At the same time, this offense didn’t have much time together during the offseason and preseason as Jones recovered from a toe injury, receiver Taylor Gabriel rehabbed a lower leg injury, and Freeman suffered a concussion during the preseason.

If the Falcons hope to avoid a Super Bowl hangover and win the NFC South over potentially potent offenses in Carolina, Tampa Bay and New Orleans, the offense has to click much better than it did Sunday.

But as Ryan said, a win’s a win.

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According to The MMQB’s Peter King, former Indianapolis Colts legendary quarterback Peyton Manning is ‘preparing for a career‘ as an NFL general manager and potential president of football operations–similar to the role occupied by current Denver Broncos football executive John Elway:

1. I think Peyton Manning is preparing for a career as the next John Elway. Now, I said “preparing.” It’s not any sure thing he’ll do it. But he’s doing his homework, getting to know different teams, different ways of doing things. He had dinner with coach Sean McVay and GM Les Snead and COO Kevin Demoff of the Rams recently. “He’s very curious,” McVay told me. Manning as a GM and franchise architect would be quite interesting, obviously. He’d be a formidable foe, wholesale sports jerseys wherever he lands, if he chooses to do it.
Obviously, there was much speculation on whether Manning would come to the Colts during the beginning of last year’s offseason, where it was speculated he could be the ‘white knight’ to ultimately save the day from departed general manager Ryan Grigson‘s questionable sports jerseys wholesale

Six months ago, we heard rumors that the Colts and specifically team owner Jim Irsay had reached out to Manning to potentially become a football operations executive with his former franchise–although to what capacity is unclear:

“You know, I wouldn’t say that he’s in the picture,” responded Irsay on Peyton Manning potentially becoming a Colts football executive in late January. “Peyton and I have talked through the last year when he came in for the 10th year anniversary reunion. Him and I sat and had some time to talk alone, and I said I’d be happy to be a soundboard for him–asking what he was thinking about going forward his his career. That sort of thing.”

“But there was never serious negotiations or anything like that for him coming into to become general manager…Right now, it’s something where he’s not in the mix in this process for interviewing general managers.”
Of course, the rest is history, as the Colts hired highly regarded scouting executive Chris Ballard from the Kansas City Chiefs, who’s so far been as good as advertised filling his new role as the franchise’s general manager.

That being said, it’s not entirely impossible that Manning could still join the Colts–even with Ballard in the fold.

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Certainly, despite interviewing other general manager candidates, Irsay didn’t completely rule out Manning joining the Colts franchise in some executive capacity during the beginning of this offseason–even with an imminent new hire as general manager forthcoming:

“I welcome the opportunity for him and I to talk about that possibility some day that he would play some role in our organization,” added Irsay.

“I think you have to remember that it hasn’t even been a year since the confetti fell from his Denver Super Bowl victory. He’s enjoying retirement, enjoying the chance not to be downed with a schedule.”
Theoretically, the Colts could hire Manning as its president of football operations and keep Chris Ballard as the franchise’s general manager. While Manning would give the final okay on football decisions, it would be Ballard and his scouting department who would perform the majority of the ‘heavy lifting’ of the player evaluation, analysis, and decision-making process.

To be honest, it wouldn’t be all that different from a similar front office structure that the Indiana Pacers recently deployed with Larry Bird formerly as the President of Basketball Operations with Kevin Pritchard (who is now filling Bird’s old role) as then the franchise’s general manager.

Manning would be filling more of a public, figurehead role for the Colts football operations, but it would still be Ballard working predominantly behind the scenes with his scouting department.

However, while time will tell, Ballard appears to have done such a good job at first glance, that it’s arguable that bringing in another big ego and ‘chef in the kitchen’ like Manning would only complicate matters regarding decision-making. Ballard may not like the idea of reporting to another executive between him and Jim Irsay–and rightfully so, as it could be perceived as an unnecessary line of authority–especially if he’s been doing an exceptional job already.

Still, Manning returning to the Colts franchise would no doubt be a treat to its fans and be a ‘return to glory’ for the franchise, as #18 elevated the franchise to Super Bowl winning heights, is easily the greatest player in Indianapolis history, and essentially made Lucas Oil Stadium, “The House that Manning Built”. Having his brilliant football mind around the franchise and larger than life persona would certainly figure to help more than it could conceivably hurt.

However, it could be a moot point all together, as Manning could elect to join another NFL franchise as its new general manager/president of football operations.

It’s possible that other NFL franchises like the Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Rams, Tennessee Titans, New Orleans Saints, etc., could also be looking for a ‘big splash’ hire and the structural stability that an NFL icon like Manning could bring, who has all the tools to be an exceptional lead football executive with his tireless work ethic and incredibly cerebral approach to football.

Having been a 2x Super Bowl Champion and just one year removed from playing football, Manning should have a pretty good idea of the kinds of players it takes to be successful in today’s game. Much like Elway, he didn’t just read about it, as he lived through it.

Right now, it appears unclear whether Manning’s next stop will in fact be with the Colts–although it cannot be completely ruled out either. However, it is starting to look like that Manning is indeed looking to get back into football, only this time with his eye on eventually becoming a lead football executive.

Where and to what capacity though is anybody’s guess.