Falcons just won a preseason game. I realized it was only a preseason game and preseason game number one at that. But hear me out. Falcons were in uncharted waters throughout the game this past Friday night. Falcons never win in the preseason, and to be honest, it rarely shows that they try to win. The team really put in an effort to try to win the game, and they were victorious over the Detroit Lions in the Motor City 27-23. Under former Falcons brass, the thought was they just wanted to see player battles and who would win those positions. They actually lost 11 straight preseason games under former Head Coach Dan Quinn. But that time I believe is no more. Under Coach Arthur Smith, you are still seeing those battles play out, plus the fight to try to win those battles. In previous years, the team seemed to win the three and outs in preseason games. Last Friday there were not many three and outs. Both quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder both are mobile and can elude the pressure from the defense. Ridder threw for two touchdowns including the game winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter to receiver Jared Bernhardt to seal the win.
Quarterback Mariota started the game and played the entire first quarter and drove the team down the field with his arm and legs. He scored a touchdown on a 6-yard touchdown run to cap off his night. Mariota went 2/2 for 36 yards passing and ran 23 yards on three carries. Ridder came in and played the rest of the game. He was poised and managed the game well like a veteran would. He pushed the ball down the field with pinpoint accuracy and should have had a few more yards but there were some dropped passes by the receivers. Ridder threw for two touchdowns, went 10 for 22 for 103 yards while rushing the ball six times for 59 yards. His passer rating could have been a little higher, but the receivers have to catch the ball at the other end of the passes as well, not all on him. At the half the Falcons already rushed for 118 yard, 168 total for the game. All of last year the Falcon’s averaged only 85 yards a game. So plus in that category so far. Rookie running back Tyler Allgeier will end up winning the starting running back position. He is a bruiser and reminds me of former Falcons running backs Jamal Anderson and Michael Turner. He only rushed three times for 25 yards, dodged around players, and pushed the line in the direction the team needed to go, forward. First round draft pick Drake London had one catch for 24 yards but left game after that catch with a knee injury that doesn’t seem to be serious.
The defense showed grit for the game. A few players were seen out of position, but that’s understandable with this being preseason game one. Overall the team held their own allowing 393 total yards, but only giving up 101 rushing yards. That’s a plus for me and shows the defensive line held up pretty good. Giving up 100 or less yards in a NFL game is a good sign, hoping that continues. Second round pick this year from Penn State defensive end Arnold Ebiketie was flying around the field with poise and speed and causing disruption on the line. Falcons are known throughout the league to be soft at the end position, hoping this changes this year with Ebiketie and the arrival of DE Lorenzo Carter from the New York Giants, who played his college ball at Georgia can both help. Plugging up the middle will be Grady Jarrett, who does Grady Jarret things, but only played a few snaps last Friday night.
And if the Falcons can find a way to bring home Bears linebacker Roquan Smith, who is not happy with the Bears passing him over on a deserved contract extension, the team would definitely have an improved linebacker core. But right now free agent pickup Rashaad Evans is the lone standout, and Deion Jones is on the PUP list and might not even make the team because he doesn’t fit Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees’ system.
The Falcons will travel to New York to play the Jets on Monday, August 22 at 8:00pm est. Check back here for my game notes on preseason game number two.
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