I've seen the Falcons play some very bad football games in my lifetime.
Rarely, however, have I seen them play such uninspired football. To put it bluntly, nobody really looked like they gave a rat's ass about that game. It's pre-season. I get that. But when Mike Smith is saying this, you know something's not quite right.
I'm not going to hit the big red panic button. I'm not even going to hit the much smaller, burgundy colored high concern button. But I will say that this team did some truly bizarre things on the football field against the Patriots, and there's apparently some weird things going on behind the scenes. When Smith says with an apparently straight face to the AJC's D. Orlando Ledbetter that Kroy Biermann is making "a push" for a starting job, you have to wonder if he's been engaging in motivational tactics or if he seriously thought Jamaal Anderson should start at defensive end over Biermann.
If it's the latter, then I'm afraid our coach has lost his mind.
But perspective is important, so let's keep in mind that even if there are real issues with this team, there's weeks still left to iron them out. Unfortunately, we also have a football game from last night to cover, so let's do that. Follow after the jump...or something.
- Kroy Biermann is truly awesome. When he was a rookie, he was an undersized defensive end with a motor who looked like the second coming of Josh Mallard. Now that he's got some time under his belt and some extra weight, he looks like a starting defensive end in the NFL to me. Three tackles, another sack and a jarring hit that forced a fumble. He's the real deal, folks.
- Speaking of real deals, Lawrence Sidbury showed he can really put some pressure on the quarterback. He's a very agile end who will always rely more on that than raw power to get in the backfield, but El-Sid is more than capable of getting around hulking offensive tackles and doing some damage. He had a nice sack last night, too. I think he's John Abraham's heir apparent.
- Antone Smith looked excellent. Admittedly, he's playing against backups, but his speed is no illusion. With Dmitri Nance looking fairly pedestrian, Smith is making a very strong case to stick on the roster as a fourth back. He can even catch a few passes! Still doubt he beats out Jerious Norwood unless he's hurt, though.
- Eric Weems was a guy I dismissed at the very beginning of training camp. It's hard to argue with what he's doing in the return game, though. With Dominique Franks looking so-so at best when the ball's kicked at him, Special Weems may well ride again.
- Speaking of guys who won't make the team, Troy Bergeron looked very good again in limited action. It's too bad the depth chart's so crowded, because I really think he could be an effective backup for the Falcons.
- Michael Turner was solid in limited action. Good to see him healthy and productive.
- Matt Ryan looked solid. Less happy feet in the pocket this time around, which was good to see. Speaking of quarterbacks....
- On the Jekyll side of things, John Parker Wilson looked composed, rolled out and threw some nice short passes. But unfortunately....
- JPW couldn't throw his way out of a paper bag. His lack of arm strength really, really hurts him at times, and it was very apparent on the interception he threw in this one. At his best, he's an effective game manager who could be a capable backup. The thought of him ever starting for this football team scares the hell out of me.
- Injuries reared their ugly head in this one. Chris Owens hurt his hand, though it's probably not serious. Kerry Meier got hurt, though it's probably not serious. The big deal here is that Corey Peters felt a "pop" in his knee, and he's scheduled to go in for an MRI tomorrow. The depth chart would take a real hit if he was to miss extended time, even though we've got solid options behind him. Hope with me.
- Our makeshift secondary made every quarterback on the Patriots' roster look awesome. Chris Owens' explosive tackling skills aside, this was a pretty pathetic effort. That'll happen when you've got your fourth-string cornerbacks logging time, though.
- Everyone off the Dmitri Nance bandwagon! The 6 carries for 6 yards he managed last game looks to be a more accurate representation of his skill level at this point than the 30 yard blast he powered to before a penalty called it back against the Chiefs. This time, he managed only 3 yards per carry, and he lost a fumble. Not so good.
- Sean Weatherspoon's coverage skills may need just a teeny bit of work. Just a bit.
- I'm totally lost as to why the Falcons thought it was a good idea to just hand Matt Bryant the kicking job. That's not to say Steve Hauschka was the answer, but there's gotta be kickers out there looking for a job or booting it in the CFL who the Falcons could match up against him.
Yeah, he only missed one of two field goals tonight, and it was beyond 40 yards. The other one he made was also beyond 40. He's a wonderful person, and he's not a terrible option. But he's 71% from 40-49 yards for his career, a 20 percentage point drop from 30-39 yards. He only makes 25% of his kicks from 50 and beyond. That's not the mark of a great kicker by any means, and I'm tired of settling for mediocrity and bandages at the position.
But hey, it's pre-season. Hopefully, Bryant will shut me up by drilling every single one of his field goal attempts in the regular season. He's certainly not going anywhere.
Game MVP: For the second straight game, it's gotta be Biermann. He's electric out there.
Game Theme Song: Music is too good for this game.
One Thing To Take Away: It's pre-season. Be wary, but not worried.
Final Word: Meh.