The Falcons first game in the Arthur Smith era had some incredibly mixed results. For those who didn’t watch or haven’t seen it, the final score was 23-3 Titans with the win. While we didn’t see many starters out there last night for either team, some believe it was a “gentlemen’s agreement” of sorts between two coaching staffs that have familiarity with each other. Even though we didn’t see starters we got to see plenty of guys who we are expecting to have some form of a role this season for our Falcons, anyway on to our thoughts:
First Look at Dean Pees’s Defense
The Falcons defense actually looked aggressive last night in the first game of Dean Pees calling the shots, especially on third downs. The past couple of seasons with Dan Quinn we saw a pretty soft defense that would sit back and only rush 3 or 4 on third downs. Dean Pees is not that. We saw Pees sending pressure from all over the defense. We saw A Gap blitzes, safety blitzes, plenty of stunts across the DL and EDGE’s, and honestly just a defense that looked more aggressive out there. The Falcons ended up having 4 sacks last night with the makeshift defense we were running. Imagining what the defense will look like with starters in as opposed to the backups will be fun.
The Offensive Line has NO Depth
Last night we saw both AJ McCarron and Feleipe Franks running for their lives behind the makeshift offensive line we had compiled together. Which might not be a concern for some since it’s just backups and camp bodies. But there were some guys we are expecting to either push for starting jobs or play significant backup roles. Jalen Mayfield was ROUGH at right tackle last night, one play in particular he got beat on a bull rush then tossed to the side. Mayfield wasn’t the only OL to disappoint last night either. Fellow rookie Drew Dalman also disappointed with his play last night. And current swing tackle Willie Beavers looked lackluster with his responsibilities. This lack of talent has me very concerned about anyone that may have to step in if an injury to a starter occurs. With us being the Falcons, I’m sure an injury or two will happen, and this OL group can’t handle that.
Ade Ogundeji and JTM Mean Business
Is it weird saying I feel a lot better about our edge situation after last night? Ogu has really proven me wrong from what I’ve heard during TC and saw last night. He and JTM were giving the Titans offensive line fits last night. Both of their motors were running hot for every snap. I think these two could see significant snaps in the base defense while rotating out with Dante Fowler in passing downs. Are either of thee guys future All Pro’s? Probably not, but if the news around them in TC and how they looked last night is true, they should be decent starters for us.
QB2 is Anything but Figured Out
The Falcons signed AJ McCarron and Feleipe Franks to fight it out for the QB2 spot behind Matt Ryan after Matt Schaub finally decided to hang up his cleats and clipboard. And well… Neither one really stole the show. It was difficult to evaluate them due to the poor offensive line play we talked about earlier. However that doesn’t really excuse the fact we don’t have a clear cut QB2. It should probably be AJ McCarron but Feleipe Franks has apparently looked very good in Training Camp. It’s a hard thing to be asking ourselves because of a few different things. First, injuries happen in football, and if we are trying to win now and anything happens to Ryan, I don’t believe either of these two QB’s are serviceable options for the Falcons. Second of all, Matt Ryan is 36. Which is not necessarily old by NFL QB standards, but he isn’t young anymore. And it seems that neither McCarron or Franks have a shot at claiming the Heir to the Throne title here in Atlanta.
What did you think of the Falcons first preseason game under Arthur Smith? Let us know at @falcons_atb on Twitter!