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Falcons vs. Texans Preseason Recap: 32-7 Is Ugly As Sin

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The Falcons don't show well against the Houston Texans, raising fresh doubts.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

A week after they beat the Dolphins 16-10 and kindled kindness in our hearts, the Falcons looked putrid against the Houston Texans en route to a 32-7 beatdown. Hey, at least they're not consistent! Instead, they were awful, embarrassingly awful, in a way that made even a preseason game unbearable.

I predicted the Falcons would win this one by 10 because I figured there was no way they would allow the Texans' middling offense to run up the score on them, something that looks as hilarious as usual in hindsight. As has often been the case in the team's worst games in recent years, everything quickly snowballed out of control as the game wore on, and even accounting for backups and third-stringers, it ended in spectacularly ugly fashion. Oh, and Sam Baker is hurt.

This is likely the nicest thing Mike Smith will say over the next week.

Remember, despite what your eyes tell you, preseason rarely correlates in any meaningful way to regular season success. The year the Lions went 0-16, they went 4-0 in the preseason. The Falcons were 1-3 in the preseason in 2012. And so on. The only important thing to take away is where the glaring weaknesses are, and unfortunately for these Falcons, it's in the defense, the offensive line and special teams thus far through two games. When your first units are struggling badly against the Texans, particularly the defense, I'm not going to blame anyone for being alarmed. Yet conceding the season at this point would be rash and more than a little bit foolish, in my humble opinion.

The key thing to remember is that most of us have believed all offseason long that the Falcons made moves that improved the team, and a couple of terrible drives shouldn't be enough for us to shake that belief, at least just yet. To keep your sanity and to not overreact to small sample sizes, you more or less have to wait and see how things unfold once we get to the regular season. You should, however, keep the very obvious weaknesses of this roster in mind before you go predicting 13 wins, because this Falcons team has too many holes to expect greatness without a few breaks

In other words, all you can ultimately do is try to shake this off, hope Sam Baker is going to be alright and hope the Falcons start to put it together in the third preseason game. Progress is the name of the game until September 7th against the Saints, when we will need to see the Falcons making huge strides.

On to the individual and unit notes. As you may imagine, I ran out of steam, so they're not long.

The Good

  • Don't look now, but Sean Renfree is making a real push for the backup job. The Falcons trotted him out with the second unit and he led a nice scoring drive, albeit one aided by a series of Texans penalties. He capped it off with a 12 yard touchdown pass to Devin Hester, and the battle between Renfree and T.J. Yates is suddenly one to watch.
  • Antone Smith ran pretty well. He didn't bust any huge runs, but he was consistent and looked like he can handle contact. It is possible the Falcons intend to give him real carries this season, but as always, I wouldn't count on it.
  • Devonta Freeman continues to run well, even if pass protection is a challenge. There's no way he should be fourth on this depth chart, but the Falcons don't appear to be in any rush to give him first team snaps.That touchdown run called back by a questionable Julio Jones holding call was a thing of beauty.
  • Give Osi Umenyiora, Dezmen Southward and Prince Shembo credit for playing well throughout. They're on a short list of defenders who earned their keep in this one.
  • Kemal Ishmael's interception in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons a chance to climb back into the game. I don't think Ishmael's ever going to be a world-beater for this team, but I like his chances of being a valuable reserve for the next several years, at minimum.
  • The game did, eventually, end.

The Ugly

  • If T.J. Yates was looking to secure that backup job, he could have done better than last night, where he flashed some inaccuracy and then threw an ugly pick to Andre Hal that put the Falcons up 29-7. Then he threw another pick. I know it's only preseason, but he may have doomed himself last night.
  • Sam Baker just could not handle Jadeveon Clowney after that first drive, and then he left the game with a potentially serious injury. If it is a major one, expect to see Sam Baker in a different uniform in 2015. Beyond frustrating and sad.
  • Every unit of the offensive line struggled, at least to some extent. The Texans do have a good defense, but their depth beyond the first unit is questionable, so this was not an encouraging performance.
  • Neither Robert Alford or Desmond Trufant really shone last night. Trufant let a 31 yard pass that set up a score get by him, while Alford had a boneheaded play early on where he fouled the receiver and then didn't even look up to make a play on the ball. Not a real concern for either, but not fun to watch.
  • The Falcons' defense was a mess on the second drive, and it was the first team defense out there letting Ryan Fitzpatrick scramble for a first down and Alfred Blue destroy the line. I cautioned fans on Twitter to be cognizant that one drive does not doom a team. That said, the first team defense has been somewhat shaky thus far, so we'll have to hope we can hang a lot of that on the scheme being more simplistic than it will be in the regular season.
  • The penalties continue to be an issue. Trufant and Alford each got whistled for one, as did Tyson Jackson for illegal use of hands, plus a few in the second and third units, one of which cost the Falcons a score. The NFL is calling a ton of penalties this preseason, but the coaching staff can't be happy with the Falcons getting rung up so often. Let's hope for more discipline next week, and certainly by the regular season.
  • Overall, this team looked exhausted, overmatched and out of sorts. It is preseason, but the upshot here is that no one from Arthur Blank down to Julian Jones can feel good about how this went. If this serves to make the team work even harder ahead of Week 1, perhaps it will be a positive, after all.

The Wrapup

Game MVP: I'm not giving anyone the game MVP. You all watched this game. You know why.

Game Theme Song: Chins up, kiddos.

One Thing To Take Away: The Falcons need to focus on their real weaknesses on the lines, in their pass rush and on special teams before the regular season, lest we send laser beams of righteous anger toward Flowery Branch.

Next Week: The Titans! Lord, I hope that game goes better. You'll find more about the team over at Music City Miracles.

Final Word: Don'tletthishappenagain.