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kschreck

Falcons' Deion Jones came of age in Philadelphia last year

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Falcons' Deion Jones came of age in Philadelphia last year

FLOWERY BRANCH , Ga. -- It was far from Deion Jones' best outing, but it was probably the one with the most impact for the young Atlanta Falcons middle linebacker outside of the Super Bowl.

In Week 10 of the 2016 season, Jones and the Falcons visited Lincoln Financial Field to face the Philadelphia Eagles. It was Jones' 10th NFL game and sixth on the road during his rookie season.

 
Deion Jones, a Rookie of the Year contender in 2016, managed to step up his game even more a year later with memorable plays. AP Photo/Danny Karnik

The Eagles beat up the Falcons on both side of the ball in a 24-15 win. It was the first time the speedy Jones looked physically overmatched as a pro, with the Eagles' offensive linemen routinely getting to the second level and pushing the 220-plus-pound Jones out of the way. He learned he couldn't just rely on his speed and athleticism and needed to use his eyes, leverage, and hands. And there were moments in that game when Jones had to rotate with reserve linebacker and primary special teamer LaRoy Reynolds.

"It was the turning point for myself last year, realizing what I could do better," Jones said as the Falcons prepare for a return to Philadelphia for Saturday's NFC divisional playoff game. "It came at the right time. It helped me out during the next stretch. I pretty much have taken everything that I learned from that experience. Now, it's time to put it on display another week."

Jones, who finished third in the Defensive Rookie of the Year voting a year ago, took his game to the next level this season while leading the Falcons in tackles. His leaping, game-saving interception of Drew Brees in a home win over the New Orleans Saints was one of the most memorable moments of the season.

The one aspect of his game Jones said improved the most from last season's loss at Philadelphia was his communication.

"Communicating and being on my details," Jones said. "I feel like I've been doing a good job with that season. Now, I just have to keep the ball rolling."

Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel has seen Jones' growth spurt since the last trip to Philadelphia.

"I'll tell you one thing: He has become the leader of our defense," Manuel said. "Granted, he was maturing from that process. Even from that Philly game on, you saw that maturation process. This year, he has taken that even further, not only in the run game but in the passing game."

Manuel said the perfect example of how Jones has matured into a leadership role is when Jones glances over to the sideline and screams, "M, I got it. I heard you the first time."

To Manuel, it's a sign of a player who knows how to orchestrate a defense.

 

"It's not said in a disrespectful way," Manuel noted. "Now I can go talk to the DBs. I always talk to [Jones] first, then I talk to Rico [free safety Ricardo Allen] to tell everybody on the back end. We are so unison that it helps the communication."

The defense has been a big part of the Falcons' late-season success. Falcons coach Dan Quinn mentioned numerous times the jump between Years 1 and 2 for players such as Jones, strong safety Keanu Neal, linebacker De'Vondre Campbell and nickel back Brian Poole. The Falcons had 3,071 defensive snaps from rookies last season, the most in the NFL according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The next step for Jones and company is slowing down what has the potential to be a solid Eagles running game, led by Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount. Ajayi was with the Miami Dolphinswhen he rushed for 130 yards on 26 carries in an October win over the Falcons.

The Falcons aren't ignoring the Eagles' passing game, with Nick Foles in at quarterback after MVP candidate Carson Wentz suffered a season-ending ACL tear.

"He's still a good quarterback and you can't sleep on him," Jones said of Foles. "He did do his thing with that team for a minute. It's just a matter of locking in and doing what we have to do."

The Falcons are 5-1 this season, including the playoffs, when they hold an opponent to 17 or fewer points. The Eagles averaged 28.6 points per game during the regular season but most of it was with Wentz at quarterback. The Eagles scored 34 points in Foles' first start in place of Wentz against the New York Giants. Foles had four touchdown passes in a 34-29 win.

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Need to keep the LBs clean and when their o-linemen do get to the second level our guys need to get off of their blocks. 

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So much to love in his article, but this little tidbit right here...

16 minutes ago, kschreck said:

"I'll tell you one thing: He has become the leader of our defense," Manuel said. "Granted, he was maturing from that process. Even from that Philly game on, you saw that maturation process. This year, he has taken that even further, not only in the run game but in the passing game."

Manuel said the perfect example of how Jones has matured into a leadership role is when Jones glances over to the sideline and screams, "M, I got it. I heard you the first time."

To Manuel, it's a sign of a player who knows how to orchestrate a defense.

I remember a player from a team that won multiple Super Bowls in the 80's saying something to the effect that at some point, if you are going to go to the next level players have to take ownership the whole deal.  It can't just be them sitting wide-eyed waiting for the coaches, the players have to get to that level of confidence that they feel like they can take the reigns themselves.

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Jones is a beast and I’m super excited that he is on this team. He is a star and will soon be a household name.

Like Deion said when he was mic’d up against the Rams, why do teams keep testing him?

i told my non falcon fan family that Debo would end the game in the endzone. I called a pic but a defender pass works just fine

He and Alford have become my favorite Defensive players. 

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