We’ve been waiting for preseason football for months, which makes the sinking realization that this is bad football even worse. That’s exactly what the Falcons gave us tonight.
To be clear, there were bright spots. Damontae Kazee was all over the field, Deadrin Senat looked good, and the defense had moments of genuine brilliance. Kurt Benkert was erratic but fun to watch, and we all bonded or whatever. That was about it for good things about the game, though, given that the Falcons got shut out and only got close to scoring once. That doesn’t matter whatsoever, given that it’s preseason and the starters were barely on the field, but it didn’t make for a particularly enjoyable viewing experience.
And that is also okay, even if our investment makes it feel a little less so. The Falcons have plenty of tape to watch and they’ll likely release a small handful of players based on it, and elevate others. It’s worth watching what happens in practice this week at fullback, linebacker (where Duke Riley struggled), and wide receiver, where Devin Gray was legitimately impressive with the backups. There are implications here, at the very least.
Here’s a little drive-by-drive breakdown of the action for you. Enjoy.
The Jets got on the field first, but it was short-lived. There was a Bilal Powell run, a short Josh McCown scramble, and a short pass and New York punted. Just what you want to see from the Falcons defense to start the year off right.
The Falcons did not have a lot of luck getting things started. They were hit with an illegal formation and a facemask penalty, followed by a pass that lost yardage, followed by a 3rd and 22 run. Needless to say, the Falcons punted.
The Jets had a lot more success on their next drive with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback, converting a fourth down, running the ball at a shaky Falcons run defense, and ultimately scoring on a 16 yard pass to Isaiah Crowell where Duke Riley quite simply misread the play and couldn’t catch up to him. Not an auspicious start.
Jets 7 - Falcons 0
The Falcons continued their offensive ineptitude on the next drive. Matt Schaub managed to hit Reggie Davis, Austin Hooper and Justin Hardy, but a 15 yard Ito Smith penalty basically killed their chances of going anywhere. Punt, yet again.
The Falcons had some nice plays mixed with some poor plays on defense to finish out the quarter.
The Jets got moving early with Trenton Cannon at running back, with two quick gains for a first down. They slowed down considerably after that as the Falcons clamped down in coverage and got a key third down tackle from Foye Oluokun, forcing the Jets to settle for a 45 yard field goal try. Naturally, they hit it.
Jets 10 - Falcons 0
The Falcons, bless their hearts, continued to do nothing on offense. A pass to Logan Paulsen got them almost to a first down, but the very next play was a designed pass to Ito Smith, who had absolutely no room to work and got dropped for a loss. Punt.
The Jets had a little early success on Sam Darnold’s first drive, despite pressure on the rookie quarterback, before a nice run stop and tight coverage from Blidi Wreh-Wilson ended the drive. Punt.
The Falcons made things a little interesting with a couple of physical (but ultimately unproductive) Justin Crawford runs and a Marvin Hall grab, but they still fell short. Punt.
The next drive featured way too many missed opportunities for the defense, with Tyson Graham missing a tackle and not exactly excelling in coverage early on. The Falcons got bailed out by a couple of penalties but still couldn’t stop the Jets from scoring another touchdown as time wound down.
Jets 17 - Falcons 0
The Falcons actually got a first down on the next drive, with Eric Saubert snagging a couple of passes before the Falcons went into the half down 17. Again, it’s preseason, and thank god for that.
Kurt Benkert time! The rookie threw a pretty ball to Dontez Byrd while rolling out on first down, and he continued to make some impressive throws as the Falcons actually moved a little before being undone by penalties and Benkert’s inability to hit short throws. Punt.
The Jets got one first down thanks to a missed Tyson Graham tackle, but had to punt shortly thereafter.
The Falcons finally had an impressive drive with Kurt Benkert at the helm. Benkert once again missed a couple of throws, but he also hit Devin Gray for a beautiful 30 yard gain, scrambling nine yards for a first down, and generally showed himself to be fearless. With Malik Williams spinning and running effectively, the Falcons got into the red zone before the third quarter ended.
Kurt Benkert and Devin Gray couldn’t connect on 4th and 2, and it was a turnover on downs.
The Jets did nothing. Two short gains and Sam Darnold badly missed an unaware Trenton Cannon, and it was time for...a punt! Hooray.
The Falcons went for it on fourth down after gaining six yards on three plays, but the pass from Kurt Benkert to Terrence Magee was dropped. Turnover on downs.
Things start to blur here, because it is preseason. Jon Celestin got a sack and got a second one nullified by penalty. Time becamse tangible and conversational. There was punting.
Kurt Benkert threw for a first down. Then Kurt Benkert threw an interception.
The Jets started moving. Andre Roberts caught a reception on third down and got the first, dancing to taunt the Falcons. This was the moment I was ready for the game to end. The Jets did give the ball back, however.
The Falcons put Garrett Grayson in. He hooked up with Devin Gray for a nice 19 yard pass and scrambled for a first down, looking pretty solid in the process, but also whiffed on some throws. This whole practice squad quarterback thing has probably not been decided yet, though I’d lean Benkert.
The Falcons tried to kick a field goal but didn’t get it, ending the game at 17-0.