The Falcons finished a very tedious Hall of Fame Game last night, and you probably already read my recap this morning. If you didn’t, please go do so, because I stayed awake for the entire game and I want to feel like that meant something.
The upside of watching it, meaningless as it was, is that we came away with some unjustly strong opinions on what happened. Here’s three things I think I think as of 1 a.m., before I have a chance to temper them with the benefit of a bit of sleep.
#1: Don’t let Matt Schaub be the backup
Matt Ryan’s durability is legendary at this point, given that he’s missed just two games in his NFL career. That said, if worst comes to worst and another player has to actually play quarterback, it can’t be Matt Schaub.
I’ve felt strongly about this for years, given how shaky Schaub was late in his Ravens and Raiders tenure, and seeing him in game action since then has only intensified the feeling. Seeing him out there against the Broncos was borderline alarming, as he threw loudly quacking ducks that ended up in the arms of a defender (okay, just one interception) or not with his receivers (he finished 4/12 for 10 yards). As good of a football mind as Schaub is and as much as he’s done in his career, the Falcons would be absolutely doomed with him at the helm of this offense, which is why they either need to hand Kurt Benkert the job if he’s healthy or find a veteran they’re more comfortable with.
I know the Falcons are in trouble if Ryan gets hurt, but it shouldn’t be this much trouble.
#2: Give Brian Hill a job
I’m a Brian Hill defender. I liked the pick at the time, I hated losing him to Cincinnati, and I enjoyed him doing good work late in the 2018 season. So it was a little painful for me to assign him to the scrap heap after the team drafted Qadree Ollison, but heck, them’s the breaks.
Unless they’re not. Hill was the team’s leading rusher and most impressive back on Thursday night, showing a little as a receiver and more as a runner, and getting some time as a protector on punt returns. He’s a work in progress on all fronts, but he looks pretty good across the board, and the Falcons shouldn’t let draft status or connections to previous offensive coordinators scare them away from giving a hard-charging runner who relishes contact an opportunity. They’re going to need to get creative with their backs to begin with with Tevin Coleman gone, but I hope they can find room for Hill if he keeps running well this preseason.
#3: Sign Yurik Bethune up for a spot
A lot of defenders had nice games in this one, considering Denver scored only 14 and largely struggled to move the ball. But while John Cominsky already had a roster spot and just bolstered his spot, and while Jordan Miller and Kendall Sheffield just affirmed that they really do have talent, Yurik Bethune made a stronger push relative to his position coming into the game. He still feels like a roster long shot, but if he can build on this game he won’t be for long.
Bethune was fast, decisive, and pretty good against Denver throughout the game, shining especially bright early on as a pass rusher and in coverage. Tre’ Crawford is still intriguing and there are veterans aplenty lurking here, but Bethune’s burst is something you can’t necessarily teach and makes him a worthwhile long-term project for a team without a clear picture of its linebacker group in the coming years beyond Deion Jones and Foye Oluokun.
Give us your hot takes from last night!