Against the Jets last Thursday night, the Falcons did something I didn’t really expect. It wasn’t losing the game (which they are wont to do, having done so 11 straight times in preseason) and it wasn’t committing a costly turnover when they really couldn’t afford to.
It was playing the starters, which the Falcons elected to do at length. Matt Ryan played 31 snaps, which accounted for most of the first half, and the defense was on the field for a long time. That was a great warm-up and all that, but typically Week 3 of preseason is when the Falcons and other teams elect to do that, and it raises the question of whether Dan Quinn tends to repeat that move against Washington or not.
We’re going to strongly advocate against it. I don’t doubt for a moment that preseason reps are valuable, but whatever value comes of Matt Ryan tossing 15 passes in a half in a game that doesn’t count a lick in the standings is probably erased by the potential for him to get injured doing so. There are younger guys—and certainly even members of the offensive line—who would benefit from some more time out there in a game situation, but there’s no great need for Atlanta to risk their stars while trotting out the absolute blandest versions of Dirk Koetter’s offense and Dan Quinn’s defense.
If the starters are going, let’s hope it’s just for a series. Instead, let’s focus on getting to the season healthy and with an enormous amount of tape for the coaches to base their final roster decisions on.