In the long desert of offseason football, therein lies an oasis of Preseason.
Here, weary travelers near and far, panged with thirst for something, anything, to quench their desire for the wonders of football, only to taste something bitter, something deceptively sweet, something that will drive good men mad.
Or, at the least, leave you looking silly as you sit in the sand, chugging beach dirt, thinking it’s a glass of Milo’s sweet tea.
Welcome to preseason football in Falconland.
Losing without major stakes
The Atlanta Falcons “lost” their first plunge into opposing football activities to the New York Jets Friday night 17-0 in the first dose of preseason action, a time where coaches experiment ideas with reserve players, starters play for roughly five minutes if they’re that unlucky and fans decide this random roster shuffle of scrimmage play indicates this, this, is exactly what their team is going to look like in September, when, y’know, things actually matter for something, and stars play more than a snap or two.
Let’s break down what actually happened: the Falcons first-team defense looked good and forced a three-and-out. The Falcons first-team offense played for two minutes and threw a pass, with a couple of annoying penalties in there. Kurt Benkert played. Rookie DT Deadrin Senat looked good. It didn’t rain. The dude sneezed doing the play-by-play or commentating or whatever. A theater nearby played that big ass shark movie, and someone probably mentioned at the stadium how they opted not to go see the big ass shark movie for this game, and how they now regret it, because they now preseason football is a meaningless attempt to fill the void of your favorite sport at a point in the season where teams are still just trying to figure out what exactly is going on with their roster and playbook.
Update: he left after halftime, and got to see the big ass shark movie at 10. It was fine.
So, that’s basically it.
What not to worry about
Sure, you can look at Duke Riley and be concerned he’s still trying to put it together. But, if we’re being honest, Matt Ryan didn’t look great either, and neither did Alex Mack. Riley looked not as good for longer, and sure, it’s fair to wonder what his ceiling is and what it’ll mean if he keeps playing like that. But, maybe give the guy a minute to warm up for the year?
You can feel like Steve Sarkisian laid a goose egg with the first-team offense, but then again, they played for roughly the amount of time it takes you to get up off your couch, throw away a plate and then sit back down on your couch. Did we mention Kurt Benkert was throwing bombs? Kurt Benkert. Some you probably don’t even know he’s the Falcons’ third quarterback. You might’ve guessed he was a linebacker. Sark helped him look pretty good!
The Falcons’ most important preseason game is against Jacksonville in two weeks. If they don’t look super hot then, it’s fair to say “well, maybe they’ve still got a few things to iron out before the first game of the preseason.” But, that’s, like, it, because even then! It’s the preseason. This means nothing for what the Falcons will do this season as an overall team, as we’ve seen for years and years now.
Was it a good night for Damontae Kazee? Sure! He might play his way into a solid rotational role with the defense this year. Did UDFA RB Malik Williams run the ball nicely in the second half? You betcha! Maybe he makes the practice squad. But none of these guys are starters.
There are probably scores of Jets fans in New York that now think the Gang Green are going to the Super Bowl and that Sam Darnold is the second coming of Peyton Manning. Um.
So, let’s just relax, at least for the moment. Be happy the first-team defense and Kazee look so sharp, understand that the first-team offense basically didn’t do anything last night (Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman didn’t even play) and just save all your energy for the end of this upcoming week when we’ll have a fresh set of things to get unruly about.