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What to watch for Falcons vs. Titans tonight

After oh so long, football is back.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons Training Camp Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

After the long wait, we’re about to see the Falcons take the football field. Yes, it’s just a preseason game, but at this point, we get a good look at the players and how they are coming along from a development standpoint overall.

There will certainly be quite a bit to review in this game when the dust settles, but it’s important to remember this is where the player evaluations truly start as this is the first true litmus test against a live opponent. While those player evaluations being the focus is always the case via preseason play, I will focus on an overall view of position groups and overall type of play for the first preseason game with a new head coach. That being stated, here’s what I’ll have my eye on against the Tennessee Titans.

Arthur Smith

Given that this will be his first game as Falcons head coach, I’m interested to see how Smith manages the game. Of course there won’t be much, if any, play-to-win game planning in the first preseason game. However, seeing how Coach Smith manages the players, the snaps they take and any type of situational aspects of the game will be something to note for the season ahead.

Offensive line group

This group will have at least two new starters, so continuity and improved play will be massively important going into the season. There are quite a few new names on the roster with this group, whether they were added via the draft, as undrafted free agents, or during free agency. That means it’s unsettled, and the Falcons have a lot of options for backup spots and starting jobs.

At this point, it’s fair to say that depth chart is a work in progress, so we will get a look at quite a few of the players on the OL to see how they are progressing against a team that has a solid defensive line.

Defense

Now I could’ve broken this unit down via position groups, and within the next few weeks, I’m sure to do so. However, I’m just anxious to see how this group looks as a whole in its first preseason game. Again, I don’t expect to see any game planning or exotic blitz packages, but I do want to see the energy and type of play this defense exhibits throughout the game, given that Dean Pees has talked about their speed and willingness to hit.


I’m viewing this game like I viewed the first training camp practice. I’ll be looking at the overall atmosphere, how Coach Smith manages the game, how he rotates his players and the overall environment from the team’s perspective. Now naturally, there are some positions groups that I’ll be reviewing, and I’ll take note of players that stand out in this first preseason game so we can discuss what that means.

For fans, this is a good game to get a feel of how Coach Smith commands the sideline, the overall team atmosphere and how the players come out and perform as a whole. Of course this is just the beginning of preseason and we’re not even to the season yet, but I’ll certainly get an even better feel for the team outside of what has been seen at training camp. I’m looking forward to it.