The Falcons played their first preseason game against the Dolphins last night. Some players helped their cause, and others.....not so much. Let’s review:
After the Falcons drafted Brian Hill in the 5th round of April’s draft, many assumed Terron Ward was essentially dead-man-walking. Ward’s performance last night screamed not-so-fast. Ward came off the bench earlier than Hill and had a more impressive performance, with a 26-yard shifty run and later finding the end zone on a touchdown run in which it initially looked like he didn’t have the space to turn the corner. Notably, Ward was out there on the starting kick return and punt return teams whereas it appeared that Hill was not.
There was some debate after Roberts was signed in free agency as to how good a returner he is and whether someone else on the roster would compete for return snaps. Roberts did his best to put those questions to rest on his very first punt return for the team, zigging and zagging his way 39 yards down the field.
Young WR Depth
Marvin Hall, Reggie Davis, and Anthony Dablé all had their moments last night. Hall even lined up with the starters (though he had a costly kick return fumble in the 4th quarter). After Devin Fuller’s season-ending injury, and with Nick Williams having a quiet night, suddenly it appears there might be a WR6 spot up for grabs on the 53-man roster, or at minimum 1 or 2 practice squad spots available for the young WRs. Keep an eye on all 3 of these guys as the preseason continues.
It’s difficult in the NFL for a team to “stash” a kicker for a year, but Meyer made a case for giving him some looks and perhaps some practice squad consideration, making two field goals, including a 53-yarder.
Every single starter for leaving the game early
Inexplicably, all of the Falcons starters left the game early in the first half when the game was barely underway, with plenty of time left on the clock. What ever happened to Coach Quinn’s message of finishing strong? If last night was any indication - and surely it is - expect this season to see Alek Torgerson leading the team whenever the game is on the line.
Sure, you could do some film analysis of the individual plays, and say Collins’ coverage was decent on two of the long passes he gave up. But it’s not a great look for a veteran with a lot to prove getting burned deep repeatedly in the 4th quarter of the first preseason game (in addition to committing a pass interference penalty and letting up another long pass that was called back due to a receiver push-off). The hope was that Collins would come out motivated with something to prove, but he certainly did not play like he was the team’s long-term CB3 last night.
With Collins’ suspension, Goodwin had a chance to make a statement and become a permanent fixture in the top-4 CB depth chart. But Goodwin got completely lost in 1-on-1 coverage on a deep TD pass to Leonte Carroo during the 2nd quarter, which does not inspire a ton of confidence. Goodwin will need to avoid those types of breakdowns going forward or he’ll risk losing snaps to Deji Olatoye or others.
Damore'ea Stringfellow’s 99-yard receiving touchdown was initially assisted by Jalen Collins dive which took Collins out of the play. But, after the catch, Branch got whimsically turned around and turned around again and Stringfellow took advantage all the way to the end zone. The young safeties will probably be watching that film this week as a primer on how not to play the open field as a free safety.
Moving on from the narrative of the Falcons blowing leads
As much as we’d like to move on from the narrative of the Falcons blowing leads, we are helpless to stop it if they continue to blow leads. So we beg you: Third-team Falcons, 4th-team Falcons, future practice squad Falcons, soon-to-be former Falcons. Please, please, please hold onto the starters’ leads in future preseason weeks. Give us a break, we’ve been through a lot.