Even in a dispiriting 11th straight preseason loss—which in true hot take fashion I ought to be treating as an emergency, but who has the energy after a night like that—there were lessons to be learned. Some of those lessons demand a knee-jerk reaction we’ll want to temper in a day or a week, and thus we have our customary three takes from last night’s game.
Please allow each of these to cool before biting into them, and we’ll see how you (and I) feel about these at noon today.
#1: The offensive line is a disaster oh no!
It’s preseason, but when your offensive line starters are scuffling mightily and you spent tens of millions of dollars and multiple first round picks to fix said line, the concern is more than a little justified.
Jake Matthews got hit with a holding penalty. Jamon Brown looked a bit shaky. Chris Lindstrom also looked a bit shaky. Ty Sambrailo looked like he forgot, spontaneously, where he was and what he was doing. Matt Ryan got frustrated and got drilled behind this line, and if that was a harbinger of things to come the Falcons are absolutely, unequivocally boned. You can’t have a great offense behind a terrible offensive line, even if the Falcons have managed to come closer than most in the past.
We have not seen the kind of stellar performance once the games started that would make us really feel good about line improvements, and James Carpenter is currently hurt. Safe to say there’ll be growing pains but I’m actually concerned at the moment that it’ll be more than that, and that tough early season stretch will prove to be a nightmare for Matt Ryan.
#2: Jermaine Grace is on the roster
He deserves to be. On a night where most of the secondary quietly did well and Vic Beasley, Deadrin Senat, and Tyeler Davison all looked good up front, Grace once again looked like the best linebacker on the field. That’s three straight weeks of good performances and two straight weeks of borderline stellar ones, and his quickness and physicality are genuinely impressive. The team is very unsettled after Deion Jones, De’Vondre Campbell and Foye Oluokun, and Grace has done more than enough to this point to earn a spot. I say write his name down on the 53 man roster in pen.
#3: Don’t worry about Giorgio Tavecchio yet
I know Matt Bryant was more expensive, that injuries hit him a bit last year, and that Giorgio Tavecchio looked pretty good last season. I know one of Tavecchio’s field goal tries was tipped. I know that there’s a perfectly legitimate chance that Tavecchio irons it out and all is well.
And I guess my hot take here is that I’m not going to panic and speed dial Matt Bryant, as tempting as that is. Tavecchio’s got one of the most cushy kicking gigs in the league, he was a perfect 5/5 a year ago and nailed a 56 yarder, and has only whiffed on 50-plus yarders thus far this preseason. Nothing about the misses thus far have been great, but the only thing that’s really going to derail a kicker with a good leg and a good situation is a complete lack of confidence, something the Falcons seem determined to avoid.
Don’t worry, then. He won’t be peak Matt Bryant, but Giorgio Tavecchio ought to have a good year, and if he doesn’t this article is going to self-destruct.