Hello fellow Falcons fans. I thought I'd take a look at how the individual Falcons looked during preseason game 2. Even though it was another loss, I think some players took a step forward while others took an unfortunate step back. Let's take a look at how things shook out.
Matt Ryan - Unfortunately, Ryan didn't have much of a pocket to work with on the first drive and parts of the second drive. However, that didn't stop him from completing passes - even if those didn't end up yielding scores. However, once Ryan was able to go into the no-huddle, the offense started clicking and they scored their first (and only) TD. Another great showing for Matt, and even the announcers noticed a difference in his play compared to previous years.
Chris Redman and John Parker Wilson - It's sad, but there just isn't much positive to say about these guys. Red was ineffective and his throws lacked velocity and many were off the mark. JPW didn't fair much better and in my mind, he has played himself off this roster. If either of these guys is our primary backup when the season starts, I'll cry in the corner for a while.
Dominique Davis - Another week and another great performance. DD has a live arm, but has surprisingly decent accuracy. He is incredibly elusive (minus the 20+ yard sack) but is not necessarily a scrambling QB - he always has his eyes downfield. On several occasions he made perfect passes, only to see his receivers get a massive case of the dropsies. At this point, Davis deserves a shot at playing with the 2nd team to see how he does with better receivers and against better defenses. My only fear at this point is that the FO will place this guy on the practice squad, only to see him get signed by another team (the Cardinals could use a real QB right now).
This game was a mixed bag. Early on, Ryan was getting pressured up the middle again. The Bengals have very good defensive tackles, so it's not unexpected. However, it was frustrating seeing Ryan have to constantly move out of the pocket to get more than 1.5 seconds to throw the ball. However, the line did settle down after the first couple of series and they looked particularly sharp during the no-huddle.
I hate to say it, but until Konz proves differently, Reynolds has settled into the starting RG slot nicely. He has had two decent games now (first drive not withstanding). That said, I would like to see how Konz does at his natural position, since McClure and Hawley did not look that impressive early on.
The second and third teamers looked similar to last week. I think Andrew Jackson may be playing himself off the roster, while Mike Johnson is quietly having a very nice preseason. It will be critical to have some quality depth, and it looks like Pat Hill has already given us a better looking line than we had last year.
My only frustration: not seeing Lamar Holmes on the field yet. I just want to see a few snaps to see how this kid measures up.
Michael Turner - I don't know what it is, but MT just doesn't appear to have the burst he used to. Whether it's uncertainty over the OL or not having Ovie, he looks like he's running timid. He had an embarassing -3 yards last night and on a couple of occasions looked like he was one-arm tackled. Those who predicted his decline may be correct. And while he did catch a pass, he's looking incredibly ineffective as an offensive weapon.
Jaquizz Rodgers - I'm liking this kid the more I see him. I don't think he's our best kick return option, but he has great elusiveness and incredible power. He also seems less timid in going through the line and looks comfortable when he's lined up as a receiver. I love what Turner has done for this franchise, but based on what I've seen so far, it is Quizz that should be getting the majority of carries.
The fullbacks - Between Mike Cox and Lousaka Polite, I think Polite may have an edge. Cox was largely ineffective as a lead blocker and Polite had the nice TD snag. After watching Cox play, you can see why the Falcons used a draft pick to pick up Ewing.
Tony Gonzalez - though he was largely invisible last week, TG showed us he is still one of the best. His routes are crisp and his timing with Matt is damned perfect. His only fault was the missed catch (a missile from Ryan) in the end zone. However, TG only drops a pass once every 2 years, so I'm glad it happened in the preseason.
Michael Palmer - he'll never be mistaken for an all-star, but Palmer is cementing his position on this team, which is great for an undrafted player. His blocking has gotten far better and he is looking like a fairly good receiving option. His large frame makes him a great target and though he doesn't have break away speed, he finds ways to get open. I like the development that has been shown here.
Lamark Brown - after a rough showing last week, Brown pulled in a few catches late in the game. He may have secured himself a spot on the practice roster, if not the inactive game day roster. The next two games will be critical for Brown to set himself apart as a keeper.
Julio Jones - Someone just needs to buy this guy a red cape already. He made a circus catch and showed his power while shaking off a few defenders and also ran a nice route across the middle that showed that he can take a hit. He and Ryan have great chemistry already and had his fingers been 1mm longer, he would have hauled in yet another TD this preseason.
Roddy White - he's looking like his old self, and his playing around with the defender when he had him isolated in space was a thing of beauty. He's still a solid #1 WR and will not easily be supplanted.
Everyone else - HD was largely absent again, save for a ridiculous bouncing ball recovery, and Drew Davis and Kevin Cone did nothing to show that either of them deserve to be the #5 WR on the team. If anything, the one person who stood out was James Rodgers. He showed good speed in returning kicks and caught some nice balls towards the end of the game, but he also showed the propensity for drops. The battle for the #5 spot is far from over, and I'm hoping that the 3rd and 4th preseason games give us a clearer picture here.
John Abraham - Abe was getting great pressure all night, regularly getting his hands on the QB, though registering no sacks. He's looking like the Abe of old and the decision to re-sign him looks wise now.
Ray Edwards - Big play Ray finally looked the part. He got very good pressure as well and showed much better burst and speed than he did all last year.
All others - Unfortunately, none of the other DEs stood out, though Sidbury showed he has a high motor.
Peria Jerry - For two straight games, he's looked the part of a 1st round pick. He's been getting incredible push, and even registered a sack in this game. The timing is perfect, as Corey Peters is still down with an injury. I'm hoping that PJ can continue this trend into the regular season.
Jonathan Babineaux - The USS Babs is still a great DT and also showed great push, regularly getting double-teamed. Rumors of his demise have been largely unfounded.
Travian Robertson - I'm not sure what it is about 7th round DTs for the Falcons, but this guy looks to be a solid contributor. He still needs to work on his conditioning, but his strength is incredible. He is still raw - and tends to let backs blow by him, but his overall strength is impressive. I really like what I've seen from this kid so far.
Stephen Nicholas - Nicholas appears to be thriving in the Nolan defense, showing great coverage skills and the ability to get into the backfield. He's quietly having a very nice off-season and will help fill the gap of losing Lofton.
Sean Weatherspoon - Spoon had an up and down night, wiffing on one tackle, but getting into the backfield for a TFL later. I'll be very interested to see how he looks in game 3, though I'm not too concerned.
Robert James - He's continuing to have a nice preseason, and may finally earn a spot on the roster. He has great speed and is showing good instincts. Is it possible that Nolan has found a way to properly utilize him? Maybe so.
William Moore - Even though he only registered 3 tackles, Moore had a critical forced fumble and is again showing the ability to make big plays. However, he and Grimes nearly let AJ Green sneak behind them for a TD and only a bad pass saved them.
Thomas DeCoud - He's showing a propensity for being around the ball, being around to snag the forced fumble from Moore.
The other guys - Hope had a nice tackle for loss, but otherwise, this still appears to be a position with some depth issues. I'm still holding out hope that Mitchell can show the flashes that warranted drafting him. We need some quality depth here, especially given Moore's injury history.
Brent Grimes - I'm not too worried about his play, but AJ did find a way to sneak behind him on a deep ball that was overthrown. He looks healthy, which is my primary concern.
Asante Samuel - He also had an up and down night. He had some nice plays early, but was shaken off by AJ Green. Unfortunately, this is the dark side of ball hawks. Every now and then, Samuel is going to give up a play like this whenever he hesitates because he wants to jump a route.
Dunta Robinson - The move to the slot has really benefited Dunta. He seems to move with more confidence and his ability to lay hits is still in place. I think the signing of Asante will benefit Dunta the most.
Dominique Franks - Sadly, not a good game for Franks. His special teams play was ok, but he was regularly beat as a corner. He needs a strong 3rd preseason game to secure his roster spot.
Darrin Walls - The potential here is obvious, as he's showing a propensity for being around the ball. He may be relegated to the practice squad again, but he's making a push for a roster spot in the future.
Overall, I think there's a concern with the depth on the defensive side of the ball, while the run for the #5 WR spot is still wide open. I think we'll have a much better idea of how the roster will look after the next game.
What did you guys think?