Archer: Jones' first year, Riley still finding his way

“It was hot and cold...but he’s going to get some on-the-job training like Deion Jones did."

Wendy Adams
September 17, 2018 - 11:52 am

© Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

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The Atlanta Falcons won the battle of the "walking wounded" against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, 31-24. 

With both safety Keanu Neal and LB Deion Jones out for the forseeable future, the Falcons had Demontae Kazee at free safety and Duke Riley at MLB. Ricardo Allen was moved to the strong safety position in place of injured Neal. 

However, there was more bad news with an already depleted secondary after Kazee's late hit on Carolina quarterback Cam Newton:

Meanwhile, Duke Riley is going through the growing pains of playing that middle linebacker role in place of Deion Jones in a rough Sunday outing.

Most notably, it was Riley's missed a tackle late in the game that led to Panthers' rookie wide receiver D.J. Moore's 50-yd touchdown, putting them within seven of the Falcons lead with 2:20 left in the game:

Dave Archer, color analyst for the Atlanta Falcons Radio Network, wants fans to remember that Jones too struggled to adapt in his first NFL season: 

“It was hot and cold (for Riley). He did some decent things. He missed a couple of tackles. He wasn’t quite as physical as he needed to be in some of the run game, but he’s going to get some on-the-job training like Deion Jones did. Deion Jones was lost in his first season as a starter. He didn’t really find his way until the 10th or 11th game of the year. It was a good learning experience (for Riley). It’s great to be able to learn in a game that you won. I think Duke will continue to get better, but they also have to get better defensively.”  

Looking ahead to the Saints on Sunday, Archer says there won't be a lot of room for error for the Falcons defensively with Drew Brees under center:

"I think with some of the issues we have on the defensive side of the ball (Drew) Brees will try to take advantage of them, and he’s going to make you pay if you make mistakes. I thought Cam was decent, he was very good late. You won’t get that from Brees. Brees is going to be lock the whole time. You can argue that he has one of the best receivers in Michael Thomas in the league. Alvin Kamera is going to be like Christian McCaffery was on yesterday. So, it’s going to be a tough game for the defense and the offense will have to come out and get after a Saints defense who’s trying to find their identity.”