Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 9/24/12

Here are the five things that we learned from watching the Falcons demolish the Chargers in San Diego in this Week 3 match-up of two potential playoff teams.

1.  Tony Gonzalez can still ball with the best of them. 

He might be 36, and lead a vegan life style, but on Sunday Tony Gonzalez was as reassuring to Falcons' Quarterback Matt Ryan as a warm Meatloaf straight from the oven on a frosty evening.  Gonzalez caught 9 passes for a team leading 91 yards receiving on Sunday, and hauled in a touchdown for his efforts.  

The former Huntington Beach High School and Cal-Berkeley star set the tone for the game, when he made two catches on the Falcons' opening drive of the game, which led to a Ryan to Jacquizz Rodgers' touchdown pass.

2.  The Chargers are in desperate need of a #1 caliber wide receiver. 

Although Chargers' Quarterback Phillip Rivers did not have one of his best games, the blame for the loss should in part fall on the shoulders of wide receivers, Malcolm Floyd, Robert Meachem, and Eddie Royal who were held for 52. 43, and 7 yards respectively. 

With so much defensive attention on the Chargers' Tight End Antonio Gates, one of these receivers needs to step up in Week 4 vs. the Kansas City Chiefs to take the place of the departed and new Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide-out Vincent Jackson, whose presence on the field is greatly missed in San Diego.

3.  Antonio Gates is no longer consistently reliable. 

With the double coverage that Gates at times has to deal with because of the lack of wide receiver depth on the Chargers this year, sometimes he will be unable to get himself open during games in which teams like the Falcons try to take away the option for Phillip Rivers to target Gates. 

Unless the Chargers get some better production from their wide receivers the rest of this season, Gates will drop out of the Top 5 most productive Tight Ends in the NFL.

4.  Jacquizz Rodgers is on the rise, but Michael Turner is not giving up his throne yet. 

The first Falcons' drive of the game was a punishing 10 play, 80 yard drive, over 5 minutes and 17 seconds.  Jacquizz Rodgers was featured predominately in this drive, which included catching a touchdown pass from Matt Ryan.  Rodgers' quick feet and good hands make him the heir apparent for the starting job, if Michael Turner does not play well this year. 

However, Turner showed a glimpse of his former self on Sunday, running for 80 yards and a touchdown with a massive 5.7 yards per carry.  For now, the Falcons' starting running back job is still Michael Turner's, but keep an eye on Jacquizz Rodgers as one of the up and coming stars on this dynamic Falcons team.

5.  Falcons' Safety Thomas DeCoud loves playing football in California. 

The UC Berkeley star returned to his home state on Sunday to intercept 2 passes from Phillip Rivers and earlier in the game recovered a Ryan Matthews fumble as well.  With 3 take aways on the day, DeCoud had the best game of his career so far, and was a huge part of this win for the Falcons.



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