I never put too much stock in preseason games, but there are things you can look for. How are rookies handling the speed of the game? How did some one-on-one match-ups go? However, watching Jalen Collins struggle at times against 3s and 4s was disconcerting. I’m not calling for him to be cut or saying that he’s a bust, but for a player whose career is in jeopardy, his response was literally the opposite of what you’d want to see. He did make some good plays, so not all is lost, but this performance was more bad than good. For a 3rd year player on his second suspension, he does not get the same grace that rookies do. I hope he finds a way to bounce back from this, because if this continues, he will play himself off the Falcons roster.
In the preseason, you hope your players stay healthy and the starters look good. The Falcons succeeded, and even though both teams were missing some starters, Atlanta was clearly the more talented team. Things broke down later into the game when third and fourth stringers played, which is really what you expect. What you don’t expect is one of those to be a former second round pick. It was one play, but Collins has had a very quiet camp and was never even in the discussion for any of the top three corner spots. He needs to show the team he can bounce back from his second suspension but he looks shook. It was an embarrassing showing for a player already having a very bad week.
It was fascinating to see how many defensive linemen were being used. Dan Quinn was rotating players on almost every snap. Brooks Reed and Courtney Upshaw were used as ends in the base package. That may be their plan, until Takk McKinley is ready to play extended snaps. To see Grady Jarrett and Dontari Poe together was exciting. Combine that with Vic Beasley, Adrian Clayborn, and Derrick Shelby being utilized in different ways. Let’s not forget about Ra’Shede Hageman and Jack Crawford working into their plans. It’s impossible to go a full season without one edge rusher or defensive tackle getting injured. For Quinn to have an abundance of options is comforting, especially with the lack of depth after Shelby and Clayborn suffered season-ending injuries last season. Last night also showed why Dwight Freeney isn’t likely coming back. They simply don’t have room for him.
I still haven't watched the game since I've been moving, but from Twitter I can deduce the following: everyone sucks, Jalen Collins is a #bust, the Falcons are going 0-16, and they blew another late game lead. Same old Falcons smh.
Forget anything negative that you might have heard about this game. This was a truly fantastic preseason debut, and the closer you look at it the more there is to love. Seriously, this was everything a Falcons fan could have hoped to see.
First unit defense? One series, one three-and-out. First unit offense? One series, five plays, one touchdown. Second units? The Falcons were already mixing in third stringers in the second series on both sides of the ball and finished the half ahead by a score of 14-10.
It also put many of our position-specific fears at ease. Right guard? Garland and Schweitzer both looked good - including solid one-on-one pass blocking against Suh by both of them. Fullback? Both candidates were at least competent. PR/KR? Andre Roberts probably nailed down that job in the first quarter with a good punt return and a competent kick return. Davis and Hall showed strong potential as well. DL depth? Yeah, we’re loaded. Swing tackle? We didn’t see Graf, but Brunskill looked solid - and D.J. Tialavea suddenly added himself to the mix.
Fans who mistakenly left the TV on also got to see a second exhibition, where some kids who will be unemployed in September auditioned for practice squad jobs. The ones dressed up as Dolphins beat the ones dressed as Falcons.
The thing that surprised me most about this game was how many familiar faces I saw on the “second string” defensive line. Hageman, Shelby, and Reed were guys I saw well into the 2nd quarter, and all three of those guys stand to get major snaps. That’s an incredible thought - our DL depth is unreal. We had folks who I didn’t recognize getting a pass rush late in the game. Where did this come from??
The #6 WR battle appears to be down to three guys - Marvin Hall, Reggie Davis, and my dark horse candidate, Anthony Dable. Dable saw a lot of work early in the game and looked more like a Mohamed Sanu type WR, running crisp, exaggerated routes with good hands. Hall and Davis both had a special teams flub (Hall moreso than Davis), but both looked very capable as WRs and as returners. I give Davis the slightest of edges right now due to his flub not being all his fault. Dable’s age works against him (28 with 2 yrs NFL experience) - that and I don’t know how much special teams value he has as a 6’4” 220 pound guy who isn’t a speedster.
The starters were absolutely amazing. The offense looked like it hadn’t missed a beat, and going for it on 4th and 1? Yeah, hey NFL, we’re out for blood. Defense might still be a little work in progress, but it’s still got plenty of young folks that’ll only get better as we go along.