The final preseason game is just a showcase for those hoping to earn a roster spot, and it’s typically a sloppy, rather disappointing affair. This one was no exception, but it was kind of enjoyable, which is about all you can ask for.
The fact that the Falcons won a game where Julio Jones sat and Matt Ryan handed the ball off once before exiting isn’t really important, but there were some quality performances worth remarking upon, and we won’t head into the season with the ugly Dolphins game as our last memory of preseason. That’s a legitimate plus.
Now it’s time for cuts! We’re not enthused about anyone losing their jobs, you understand. We’re just ready for the regular season, and ready for this roster to take shape after a long summer.
Let’s dive into the game, and then start thinking about the moves ahead.
- The potential Falcons’ depth along the defensive line looked good against the Jaguars. Nordly Capi looked strong, Malliciah Goodman quietly played well, and Courtney Upshaw managed a sack against Jaguars’ backup Brandon Allen. Only one or two of those guys will make the final roster, but it’s nice to know the Falcons have players with a little bit of upside.
Capi, in particular, has been truly impressive, albeit against backups. I hope he makes this roster.
- J.D. McKissic and Nick Williams are probably competing for one of the last spots on the roster, and to their credits, both performed well. Unless they’re pushing Eric Weems off the roster, though, I can’t see both sticking, so McKissic could be ticketed for a practice squad spot initially. Williams, too, could be gone if the Falcons feel they need defensive backs more than receivers to open the year.
- Robenson Therezie looked good, I thought, especially on his interception. I’ve been very bullish on him since last season, and while he’s not going to have a major role with Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen starting, I still think he could carve one out down the line. He’s a virtual roster lock, though I get an unusual number of questions about his status
- The Falcons gave Sharrod Neasman a lot of run on special teams, and I thought he looked very good there. He has been one of my sneaky practice squad picks for a while now, but given that he looks A) capable on special teams and B) to have some upside as a defensive back, it’s probably not all that sneaky.
- Overall, the immediate backups on both defense and offense looked solid, which is a small comfort for those times when injuries inevitably hit throughout the season. If we’re lucky
- Matt Simms had some nice passes and was certainly victimized by Austin Hooper, in particular, but he did toss two picks on the night. Given that he’s ticketed for third quarterback duties either on the roster or on the practice squad, he didn’t hurt himself, especially because again, neither pick was really his fault.
- Speaking of Hooper, he is just not ready for primetime. I’m hopeful he’ll eventually be a starting-caliber tight end in the NFL, but he’s shown throughout training camp and the preseason that he’s not ready for primetime just yet.
- I don’t dislike Terron Ward, which I feel like I have to note over and over again because I’m not a huge fan of him being on this roster, and it seems like he will be again after a two touchdown effort, and due to his special teams value. Brandon Wilds got more run and was more impressive throughout the summer as Ward battled an ankle injury, but I suspect that won’t mean much in the final analysis.
As a runner, Ward is just sort of plodding, but he is young and may have untapped potential we haven’t seen, so we’ll have to hope he’ll either stay off the field and marinate or surprise us in his opportunities.
- Heaven help us if the entire starting defense ever goes down at once, because the backups couldn’t stop a collection of truly mediocre running backs from averaging well over five yards per carry on the night.
- Akeem King showed off his ability as a tackler, but unfortunately for him, he’s a cornerback and his coverage skills matter a great deal. The fact that he got roasted for a 27 yard touchdown isn’t going to mean he’s off the roster, but he could legitimately lose out on the third cornerback gig early in the season to UDFA Brian Poole.
- Shayne Graham kicked well for the Falcons last year and would seem to have a legitimate shot to earn the kicking gig, but Bryant was always the favorite if healthy (which he appears to be) and the margin of error was always going to be thin. Graham missing a 32 yarder in the third quarter probably put the nail in that particular coffin.
Don’t make me do this. Not today.
The Falcons legitimately have some thinking to do about the final couple of receiver spots, the last defensive lineman, and cornerback.
No game next week, but the first week of the season is coming right up with a battle against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Visit Bucs Nation to learn much more about the team.