The first day of Falcons - Jets joint practice was an up and down one, by the sounds of it. Falcons reporters on-site in New Jersey reported that Atlanta’s defense got cooked by Joe Flacco throughout the afternoon, which is not the omen we want or need for Monday night.
Of course, you can only invest so much meaning in that, given that we heard all about the Falcons kicking the Dolphins’ butts at joint practices last year in a way that translated to a win against Miami in the regular season but did not bode well for Atlanta’s fortunes overall. You should take one shaky day from this team for what it is: One day. Still, some of the concerns that cropped up today are larger concerns for this team, so they’re worth at least keeping an eye on.
A little earlier today, Matt Chambers did us the favor of rounding up Falcons-centric coverage from beat writers. Now, we’ll look at how the Falcons looked from the Jets beat perspective. A tip of the cap to Pride of Detroit, who we’re “borrowing” this format from based on their reports from Lions and Colts joint practices.
Falcons offense vs. Jets defense
It didn’t sound like the best day for Atlanta here from the Jets perspective, though Desmond Ridder threw a nice touchdown pass to Jared Bernhardt early on that was encouraging. He also led the team on a field goal drive in an end-of-game, unscripted scenario late in practice.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, Ridder wasn’t that successful all day, throwing a pick under pressure. Ridder’s willingness to put the ball in harm’s way and his struggles under pressure were the two significant downbeat notes from an otherwise impressive first night against the Lions, so it’s something he’s going to have to continue to work on that as he tries to push Mariota in the weeks ahead. He’s making good progress, though.
Sauce Gardner just picked off Desmond Ridder. Pressure forced him into a bad throw. #Jets— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) August 19, 2022
Mariota and company had their hiccups as well, with the veteran mixing in a brilliant run with some misses through the air. Rosenblatt noted that Mariota struggled more against the Jets defense than Joe Flacco has—that’s not surprising given that Flacco works against them daily—but Mariota was sacked several times and couldn’t close out a scoring drive on a two-minute drill. He did, however, once again look terrific running the ball.
We didn’t see much from Mariota as a passer a week ago against the Lions—his lone attempts were fine passes, but he just didn’t play all that much—but we know that he’s going to be the starter Week 1 and that he’s done well throughout camp. Monday night should give us a chance to see more from him when it comes to throwing the football, with the hope that he’ll make this practice effort a forgotten one soon enough. I’m not really concerned about his ability.
Part of his lack of success appeared to be owing to tight coverage and defenders making plays on passes, as well.
Jets first team D stops the Falcons first team O in the two-minute. Michael Carter with a great play to bat down a ball intended for Kyle Pitts. Then Jermaine Johnson sacks Mariota on fourth.— Ethan Greenberg (@EGreenbergJets) August 19, 2022
The fact that pressure was a consistent theme for both quarterbacks against a capable Jets front sets off familiar alarm bells, though. Atlanta’s pass protection is maybe the major concern for the 2022 offense, and we’re going to need to see them hold up effectively Monday night to feel good about where things are headed. It is worth noting that Tori McElhaney singled out Kaleb McGary for praise and had a more positive take on the line, which she said kept Mariota and Ridder clean much of the day. I prefer her take.
Falcons defense vs. Jets offense
Things sounded a bit tough on this side. I mean no disrespect to Joe Flacco, a quarterback who will go down as one of the better passers of the early 2010s, but his best days are welcome behind him and it’s not great news that he’s finding success and wide open options.
Flacco leads an eight-play, 60-yard TD drive in unscripted period. Big play a 42-yard pass to a wide-open Moore. Moore then beat Hayward on a third-and-13 conversion. TD a 5-yard pass to Berrios on third down. Masterful drive by Flacco. #Jets— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) August 19, 2022
Or that he’s running away from Falcons defenders, frankly.
Who says Flacco can’t move?! Sprinting after being flushed from pocket, the vet throws one on move to sliding Wilson for first down, near sideline, at sticks. Impressive #Jets— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) August 19, 2022
The biggest play of the day, though, belonged to rookie running back Breece Hall. I’m a big Hall fan so it’s not surprising to see him doing well, but a 75 yard touchdown run that looks pretty effortless is less than ideal for this defense.
Here is the 75-yard touchdown run from Breece Hall. The one-cut is a staple of the Shanahan/LaFleur offense & the home-run ability is something that was sorely lacking from this team pic.twitter.com/JhyQKM47GD— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) August 19, 2022
It wasn’t all bad, though. Cimini notes that Grady Jarrett did Grady Jarrett things, overwhelming the Jets offensive line to take down Flacco at one point. No matter what happens with the Falcons’ defensive front this season, Jarrett will be Jarrett, which is a major comfort.
First third-down period ends with Grady Jarrett sacking Flacco. Before that, Flacco had darts to Davis and Uzomah vs soft zone. #Jets— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) August 19, 2022
The practice ended on this note for Rosenblatt, which is a bleak note indeed.
Practice is over. The #Jets look like the better team to me — though with the Falcons I’m not sure that’s saying much.— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) August 19, 2022
Again, it’s one practice, so do remember that making sweeping conclusions about this team’s fitness and ability is unwise. After an up-and-down preseason game against the Lions and with familiar pass protection concerns cropping up, though, we’ll be eager to see the Falcons show us that their perceived weaknesses are improving tomorrow during practice and on Monday night in the Week 2 preseason matchup.