In looking back at last night’s preseason matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, the thing that was most striking to me was the fact that the child seated in front of me should probably be treated immediately with hardcore antibiotics after touching every inch of every seat in his row, and then vigorously licking nacho cheese, and probably e. coli, off of his filthy fingers for an extended period of time, and that is not particularly relevant to the Falcons.
Mr. Nacho Cheese Fingers did not distract me from the fact that, yes, the Falcons lost. The good news is, preseason losses do not matter in the grand scheme of the season. What does matter, however, are player performances in preseason efforts in terms of the expectations they create for the regular season. Follow the jump, and let’s take a look at the quarterback position in particular.
Did you know the Falcons currently lead the league in passing yards? And they’re third in the league in total offensive yards. The flip side of the "preseason losses don’t really matter" coin is that preseason successes don’t matter all that much, either. But, the fact that the Falcons have had so much success throwing the ball in these first two outings suggests two things: Matt Ryan has progressed as a passer, and pass protection has improved. Ryan looks confident, comfortable with his receivers, his release seems quicker, and his accuracy is improved.
Another thing quarterback play in preseason has revealed is the need to objectively evaluate the viability of Chris Redman and John Parker Wilson as backup quarterbacks.
Redman was not impressive against the Ravens, completing 1 of 6 attempts for a grand total of 8 yards. He was significantly better statistically last night against the Bengals, completing 10 of 15 for 106 yards, but nobody enjoyed the interception in the end zone, except, of course, for the Bengals and their fans. Wilson has struggled in both preseason efforts, completing 8 of 13 attempts for a total of 69 yards over the course of two games. Redman, at least, is a veteran presence on the field, and never seems to get flustered. Wilson, however, simply does not look prepared to compete at this level.
Dominique Davis showed promise against the Ravens, although his stat line was misleading. His lone interception came when a pass bounced off of LaMark Brown and into a defender’s hands. He has been sacked twice playing behind offensive linemen who are pretty far down the depth chart. Overall, in two preseason appearances, his statistics are superior to Redman’s and Wilson’s in most categories, completing 17 of 29 passes for 174 yards. Wilson does have a higher completion percentage and passer rating than Davis, on significantly fewer throws.
Davis impressed everyone last night, from me, to Matt Ryan, as quoted in this article by Jay Adams at AtlantaFalcons.com, to whomever runs the Twitter account for NFL on Fox. His receivers struggled some, as you might expect from several young undrafted free agents, but Davis has a strong arm and exhibits decent decision making skills under pressure. His performance last night, nearly leading the Falcons to a late-game comeback win against the Bengals, warrants strong and legitimate consideration for a spot on the Falcons roster.
To paraphrase a tweet from Falcoholic reader Tyler Hartsook, he curses less when Dominique Davis is on the field than he does when John Parker Wilson is under center. At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all really want from a backup quarterback?
What do you think about the backup quarterback situation? Do the Falcons have a legitimate competition on their hands?