The Atlanta Falcons won't be facing their stiffest challenge on Friday night, considering that the quarterback they're up against is a rookie. Despite that, I'll still be very interested in watching how they fare against that particular rookie.
Ryan Tannehill is a guy scouts salivated over despite a relative lack of college production. He's big, he's got excellent athleticism, a good arm and all those gooey intangibles that everyone loves so much. This is his first playing time as the official starter for the Miami Dolphins, so you can bet he'll come in amped.
The only question is whether the first team defense or second team defense is going to get a crack at Tannehill, but given that the starter usually trots out first in the third pre-season game, I'd expect to see the likes of Ray Edwards on the field. This is a good thing.
One of my outstanding questions has been how the pass rush would perform under Mike Nolan, and thus far it's been a mixed bag. Generally speaking, the team has gotten at the quarterback more ferociously and has closed on more sacks. In the Bengals game, however, Andy Dalton's quick release helped contribute to a one sack game, with less pressure than I had hoped for.
Tannehill should be a good test, because of his combination of inexperience and physical tools. He should be able to throw or scramble his way out of trouble, but he won't be the only quarterback the Falcons face this year who is capable of making a bone-headed decision or two. I'll be intrigued to see how the pass rush fares, particularly because the fourth pre-season game is where starters go to lounge.
What's your prediction for the game?