Football is Back (somewhat)
I sat through the entire Atlanta Falcons’ 27-23 preseason win over the Lions (by choice) so you didn’t have to, which means, the NFL is back…kind of.
It’s only the NFL preseason; these games are meaningless on the surface, but still fans can’t help but get excited by what they see. Falcons fans are cheering after watching their new potential franchise QB Desmond Ridder put together a game-winning drive in his first NFL game.
The team witnessed a few standout players tonight, for better and for worse. Reminder, it’s only preseason and everything is written in sand, but football is back and there’s finally Falcons football to discuss.
LB Rashaan Evans showed early why he’s locked down the starting iLB position. He was running sideline to sideline and finishing tackles. You could see he was very comfortable in Dean Pees’s scheme. Coverage still needs improvement but for only a short outing, Evans impressed.
Rookie EDGE Arnold Ebiketie had some first day jitters on the opening drives, where he lost contain of the run multiple times. However, AK settled in nicely and generated pressure on multiple pass plays, something Falcons fans have been begging for. The rookie drew a hold that most likely would’ve lead to a sack and also recorded a QB hit.
DB Dee Alford was another young defender that stood out tonight. He hauled in an interception, led the team in tackles and had serviceable coverage throughout the game. He looks like he could be a depth piece for a secondary with high expectations for itself in 2022.
DB Mike Ford stood out for the wrong reasons. He played early in the game and was consistently beaten in coverage until the Lions got deeper into their reserves. This is disappointing since his name is one we’ve been hearing a lot this training camp.
QB Marcus Mariota looked the part of the calm veteran. He immediately answered the Lions opening drive touchdown with one of his own. He led the offense down the field, mostly with his legs, before capping off the drive with a diving pylon touchdown.
TE Felipe Franks didn’t live up to the hype. Franks was one of the players I was most excited to see after his recent position change and training camp stardom. The new TE recorded one big drop and a five-yard reception, underwhelming to say the least. The Felipe Franks experiment is still in its early stages.
QB Desmond Ridder stole the show today. He got more playtime than anyone and took full advantage of it. Ridder wasn’t necessarily lights out in the game, (10/22), but he showed poise in the pocket. The only negatives? An interception called back thanks to a questionable roughing the passer call and a dropped interception later in the second half. The rookie QB also had to deal with quite a few drops from his WR corps.
Still, he showed why the Falcons front office believe in his potential. Ridder showed poise in the pocket, made plays with his feet, and displayed he could run the offense how Arthur Smith envisions. All of these abilities were on display when he lead the team on a game winning drive under two minutes after a Timmy Horne fumble recovery.
What’s this all mean?
Absolutely nothing. The preseason is less of a preview and more of a dress rehearsal, especially Week 1. Take the highs and lows as they come and don’t let them ruin your week. It’s good to see your team look competent and fun, but its also good for them to get plenty of mistakes out of the way as well. There’s still a ways to go before the season begins, but it is nice starting off with a win.
Let us know your thoughts about the Falcons first preseason game on Twitter @falcons_atb.