Football is finally back, and I was fortunate enough to be on site for the Falcons first matchup of the preseason. The Georgia Dome was fairly packed with a nice turnout on hand. As Matt Ryan and Julio Jones tore apart the Ravens defense in the first quarter, the fans energy really elevated to make us almost forget it wasn't a regular season game...almost.
Somehow, out of the 68,000 people in attendance (stat from ESPN's box score), I got stuck with a Saints fan sitting next to me. What are the odds? He was apparently a Ravens supporter as well, and had no problem sticking it to me when their ninth string reserves took the lead.
Still, it was a great beginning to the season. Atlanta's first-string squad looked outstanding, even if it was only for a quarter of play. Take a jump and find out what I took from this game, and some of the interesting notes on the Dome itself.
I'll try to avoid making the same notes as Dave did in his recap.
What I liked:
- First of all, my seat. Here's a video from my view last night. Not a bad spot to start things off. Next time I'll remember to turn my iPhone horizontally when I record a video.
- Julio Jones is an absolute monster on the field. If I had a podcast, I could honestly talk about how awesome he is for an hour straight. There has been so much hype surrounding him this offseason, and he certainly did not disappoint. AND, he did the Dirty Bird. What's not to like?
- Matt Ryan is going to be great this year. Dirk Koetter looks like he will finally be the guy to let the reigns loose on the offense, and give Ryan the chance to run the show when he needs to. Yes, the is just the first preseason game, but it's very promising to see already.
- On 3rd and 1 at the Baltimore 7-yard line, Ryan went for it all, resulting in a touchdown to Julio. There's some aggression aren't familiar with.
- It was good to see Stephen Nicholas back out there. He took a nasty stiff-arm to the face from Ray Rice early on, but got right back up to knock down a tough to reach pass on the next play. He and Spoon will be relied on heavily in the linebacking corps.
- Peria Jerry made back-to-back tackles, one for a loss of two yards. I think we were all pleasantly surprised to see that.
- Dominique Davis has potential. His lone interception was absolutely not his fault. He hit LaMark Brown right in the hands, and it bounced right off to the Ravens. Davis can run, too, so at least he has something to fall back on at times, unlike JPW (don't worry, I'll get to him in a bit).
- The punt return job should go to Dominique Franks. We all saw what he can do. Harry Douglas does not need to be out there just waiting to get hurt, again.
- They're supposed to stop selling beer at 8:30 p.m. at the Dome, but it was flowing until 9:30. Nobody seemed to mind.
- If you wait until the fourth quarter of a preseason game, you can sit just about wherever you'd like. The place started to clear out once fifth-string took the field, and I watched the family in front of us move right down to the first row.
- When Bobby Rainey was returning a punt for Baltimore, he continued to try and tip-toe his way out of trouble, and a Falcons fan near me yelled, "This ain't Dancing With the Stars!" Made me laugh.
- John Parker Wilson. At all. He is unbelievably frustrating to watch. He literally bounced two balls in a row to his receivers, and doesn't seem to bring much to the table. Plus, he fumbled deep in his own territory. I couldn't tell who was to blame on the handoff, but I'll just say it was JPW for argument's sake.
- Michael Turner's extremely vanilla carries. I'm kind of nitpicking here, but he didn't do much when he got the ball. Preseason, I know.
- One of the fans behind me insisted on yelling every second of the game. He would scream, "Hut, hut, hike!" like he was drawing the Ravens offside, or shout "touchdown!!!" anytime the Falcons ever ran an offensive play. Also, when Bradie Ewing went down he told him to "walk it off". The rookie leaving on a cart shut him up for about a minute.