Falcons vs. Jets: An Excuse to Drink at Breakfast

Falcons vs. Jets Credit: Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Jets Fans Have a Reason to Fly High

The Jets fly into London feeling a little better about themselves after collecting their first victory of the 2021 season. Rookie quarterback Zac Wilson has looked like a rookie from BYU adjusting to the NFL, but last week we saw a glimpse of the potential that propelled him up draft boards last spring. After a slew of questionable decisions in his first two games, it appeared his coaches tried to reign in his free-wheeling style of play in week three, only to see him throw for 160 yards and two interceptions. Last week, Wilson was back to his backyard playstyle, and he logged the best game of his short career. It wasn’t a perfect game, Wilson has yet to exit a game with no turnovers, but he helped generate big plays. 

The Jets pass rush exploded against a depleted Titan’s offense, amassing seven sacks in week four after totaling only six sacks in the first three weeks. Third-year defensive tackle Quinnen Williams has had a fast start, and John Franklin-Myers and Bryce Huff have emerged as legitimate threats as edge rushers. The Jets’ secondary hasn’t faced a potent offense, but they’ve bordered on average so far this season. Despite the glut of turnovers from the offense, the Jets defense has done well to secure themselves in the top half of the NFL in yards and points allowed. 

Falcons Fans Waiting to See a Finished Product

The Falcons have been schizophrenic through the first four weeks. After laying an egg against the Eagles and Bucs, the defense carried the team to victory in week three before falling apart entirely against Washington last week. The offense, who had been nearly invisible all season, finally showed up against a dreadful Washington defense. Unfortunately, until this team can put together a complete game in all three phases, it doesn’t seem likely they’ll find much success. The only consistency Atlanta has seen this year is in Cordarrelle Patterson, but despite his best efforts, he can’t carry this team by himself.

Sometimes Growth Means More than Wins 

That brings us to the “must-win” game for both teams this Sunday. If we choose to be honest, we can admit that a win for either team isn’t going to move the needle this season. The Falcons and Jets wrote their stories before this season ever kicked off. The Jets embraced the rebuild by throwing their rookie quarterback into the fire. Sure, they added some pieces in free agency, but they intended to compete in 2022 and 2023. This season was always going to be the first step in a new direction. 

Though the Falcons’ leadership deflected the notion, it is apparent this is year zero of a long-term rebuild for this team. We all heard Arthur Smith say Blank hired the wrongs guys if he wanted to rebuild, but Smith’s bluster didn’t match the team’s actions in the offseason. No one expects the front office to admit they do not intend to compete, but the truth was in plain sight for anyone willing to look. That’s why many of us are already firing off draft takes.

At this point, both fan bases should shift their baseline expectations away from wins and focus on growth. Wins will keep the casual fans engaged, but progress is far more critical. Creating incremental gains week to week is the only path to changing the narrative. Planting seeds now is the only way to enjoy the fruit they may bear in the future. The question for this week, and every week moving forward, is how much can both of these teams grow.

Can the Falcons Offense Survive Without Ridley?

The Falcons finally saw an offense that resembles what we expected going into this season. After three weeks of nominal production from Matt Ryan and this passing offense, they notched four passing touchdowns (thanks, Cordarrellle!) against Washington. We finally saw a few explosive plays after three games of nickel and diming defenses. This newfound production was due partly to a shift in playcalling, but mainly because the Falcons held Washington to their fewest quarterback pressures this season. Ryan looked remotely comfortable in the pocket and was generally able to deliver the ball in rhythm, a scenario that has been painfully absent so far this season.

This is the part of the article where I had focused on the offensive line and playcalling. I had a thousand carefully chosen words outlining who needed to continue growing and how Calvin Ridley was the key to this offense blossoming into the productive unit we all hoped to see. Then, in a bizarre turn of events, the news came down that Calvin Ridley wouldn’t be traveling with the team to London due to “personal reasons” just as I was putting the finishing touches on this post. Awesome.

First, let’s all hope everything in Ridley’s life will be ok. There will be plenty of speculation about what’s happening and what it means. We aren’t likely to find out what happened anytime soon, if at all. I sincerely hope whatever is going on comes to a positive conclusion for the sake of everyone involved. Life is bigger than football, and I wish Ridley the best.

Time for Plan B

Now, the question is, how do the Falcons overcome this stunning blow to their offense. There isn’t an easy answer to that. With Russell Gage also ruled out, the team is devoid of any threats on the outside to keep the Jets honest. If I were Robert Saleh, I would be throwing every blitz in my playbook at Matt Ryan. I would have zero concerns about single coverage on Olamide Zaccheaus and Tajae Sharpe. Stack the box on early downs, and send the house on third. Wash, rinse, repeat. 

The easy answer for the Falcons is Kyle Pitts, but the rookie tight end hasn’t shown any reason to believe he can step in and be the alpha receiver on the outside. I’m sure Arthur Smith will ramp up his usage lined up wide, but I wouldn’t count on that translating to a breakout game. Perhaps Corrdarrelle Patterson slots in at receiver, but his productivity has skyrocketed because of his flexibility. Simply lining him up as an X eliminates the competitive advantage he presents as a moveable chess piece. Patterson has carried this offense so far, but can he keep that pace up with no help around him?

This week presents the most daunting challenge of Arthur Smith’s career as a play-caller. He isn’t facing a daunting defense, but he has so little to work with to keep them honest. I expect a heavy dose of multiple tight end sets, a doubling down on the run game, and quite a few prayers that they can gut out tough yards to stay on schedule.

It Starts Up Front for the Falcons

Whether this plan works falls entirely on the offensive line. The Jets are coming off an impressive seven-sack game, but they haven’t been overwhelmingly effective at rushing the passer this season. Roughly half of their thirteen sacks and forty-one pressures came in their game last Sunday. Jets fans have reason to be excited about their defense, but some regression back to the mean is inevitable. However, unless Atlanta can generate some yardage in the air, they likely face an endless wave of blitzes. These young interior linemen will need to grow up fast this week.

Can Jalen Mayfield, who deserved a much better PFF grade than he received this week, continue to improve after a disastrous start to the season? Facing Quinnen Williams is a tough draw for any guard, but Mayfield availed himself relatively well against a pair of strong interior linemen last week. Matt Hennessey has had positive moments but has struggled to maintain an average level of play. Atlanta has gotten solid performances from Jake Matthews, but Kaleb McGary has continuously faltered at right tackle. Despite the strong start from the Jets edge rushers, this is still the easiest matchup McGary has seen so far. Can he turn in a good performance this week, or will we head into the bye counting the days until Matt Gono is cleared to play?

The Rushing Attack Needs to Carry the Team

Perhaps a more pressing question is whether Atlanta’s line can generate some push in the run game. If this offense is going to function without Calvin Ridley, we need to see a dramatic improvement in the run game. Fans were quick to call for Mike Davis’s job after averaging an embarrassing 1.1 yards per attempt against Washington. However, upon reviewing the all-22 film, it’s pretty apparent the blame doesn’t fall directly on Davis’ shoulder. Chris Lindstrom was the only Falcons lineman that consistently performed to par in the run game. For this offense to maintain a consistently high level of play, the run game has to be efficient. Atlanta doesn’t have to lead the league in rushing yardage, but a sub-30% success rate (29th in the NFL) is not a recipe for success. The Jets are 18th in the NFL in rushing success rate allowed (41.7%), so Atlanta has an opportunity to turn things around this week. 

We have yet to see Atlanta marry a successful run game to an explosive passing game. It isn’t surprising with an entirely new scheme and youth at critical positions, but entering into week five, I had hoped to see progress. Progress will be hard to find without Calvin Ridley, so now the best we can hope for is something bordering on competence. 

Can the Falcons Rally On Defense?

We were all shocked to see the defense showed some life through the first three weeks. Granted, they allowed roughly a million points to the Eagles and Bucs, but it was nearly excusable with the catastrophic offensive performance. They looked competent, dare I say borderline good, against the Giants. Then it all came tumbling down against Washington, leaving fans to wonder whether it was all an illusion all along. We should learn a bit more this week. If the Falcons can’t pull it together defensively this week, it is time to panic.

The Jets are a terrible offensive team. Let’s hit some highlights. 

The Jets are:

  • 32nd in points scored
  • 29th in yards gained
  • 1st in INTs thrown
  • 32nd in EPA/play
  • 32nd in Offensive DVOA

The Jets are one of the few teams that are worse than Atlanta offensively. Wilson has thrown an interception in every game this season. Their leading rusher (Micheal Carter) is averaging 3.4 yards per attempt. This team is objectively a terrible offense. If Atlanta can’t stand firm against this offense, there is very little hope for them in the short term. 

Injuries at Nickel Complicate Matters

The season-ending injury to Isaiah Oliver is concerning, especially with the recent return of Jamison Crowder. This is exasperated by an injury to Avery Williams, meaning we may see the debut of Darren Hall or Richie Grant on Sunday. Still, by and large, this is a healthy defensive unit that *should* keep this opponent in check. It’s likely to boil down whether the Falcons can find a way to limit Zac Wilson’s ability to escape the pocket and create big plays. Three of the four quarterbacks the Falcons have seen this season has made them pay for breakdowns in containment, and if they can’t clean this up, Wilson will be the fourth. 

Dean Pees is aware of this weakness; he addressed it specifically in his press conference this week, so it will be interesting to see how it affects his play calling. Will he continue to be aggressive and blitz to create pressure, or will he depend on disguising coverages and forcing Wilson to diagnose and deliver the ball from the pocket? Can he get more out of his linebackers and defensive backs when it comes to containment? 

Will the Falcons Run Defense Even Get Off the (Double-Decker) Bus?

In terms of raw statistics, the Atlanta Falcons don’t have a terrible run defense. However, if you look at the success rate allowed or yards/carry allowed, you’ll see the Falcons are near the bottom of the league. Atlanta has benefitted from playing teams that aren’t terribly interested in dedicating themselves to running the ball, but each team they’ve faced has been efficient on the ground. While the Jets haven’t found much, if any, success on the ground, this may be the week they rededicate themselves to their run game. 

The promotion of defensive tackle Mike Pennel is a storyline to monitor this week. The struggles Atlanta has seen on defense stem from an inability to control the line of scrimmage. There is no guarantee he’ll make the active roster, but at 330lbs, he adds much-needed size to this defensive line. I hesitate to place high expectations on a journeyman tackle, but if he can achieve even a mediocre level of performance, it would lift this defense.

The linebackers for Atlanta need to step up their games too. My previous film review revealed undisciplined play, poor tackling, and, sometimes, an unwillingness to play through contact. It isn’t limited to one player. The entire unit has shared these struggles. Better play from the defensive line will help, but we need to see this group settle into their roles and play mistake-free football.

Any hopes of pulling this game out lie squarely on the shoulders of the defense. If they can limit the Jets to fourteen points or less, it will give the offense a chance. There is little hope for the Falcons if this turns into a shootout. They just don’t have the ammunition for it.

Can Our Special Teams Avoid Unforced Errors

Special teams issues have plagued the Falcons all season. We’ve yet to see this team log a “clean” game from its special teams between shanked punts, injured punters, and allowing a kick return for a touchdown. The return touchdown was an obvious error, but the yardage lost to bad punts has been just as impactful. The Falcons aren’t a team with a wide margin for error, and losing the field position battle because of poor kicking is enough to erase whatever small advantages the team manages to find. 

With Cam Nizialek injured, Atlanta will turn to Dustin Colquitt as his replacement. Nizialek struggled to begin the year but seemed to have leveled off before suffering an injury last week. Colquitt had an excellent career with Kansas City, but at 39 years old, it’s fair to wonder how much he has left to offer. Here’s to hoping he can recapture his glory days for at least a few weeks.

Buckle Up Buckaroos

Destiny requires this to be an ugly game. Two bad teams facing off for a crowd on the wrong side of the Atlantic ocean who don’t know who or what to cheer for was never a good game scenario. Ugly games can still be fun, though. I’d love to write a glowingly optimistic preview for this one. Hell, I had a borderline cheerful preview written before the Ridley news. However, as it stands now, I’m not sure if either team will be effective offensively.

There is a path to victory for Atlanta. Limit the Jets offense, hope to generate a spark with your special teams, and do just enough on offense to get by. It’s a narrow path to walk, but it’s viable. Unfortunately, there are so many things stacked against the Falcons that I can’t bring myself to predict a victory. It’s probably time to limp into the bye week and regroup before taking on a much tougher slate of games. For the second week in a row, I’ll predict the Falcons drop a “must-win” game.

Final prediction Jets 17 – Falcons 6

Way Too Early Falcons Dueling Mock Drafts

Ladies and Gentlemen, nothing screams a week 1 overreaction like a Way Too Early Mock. After the major let down that the Falcons had week 1 against the Eagles, 32-6 loss at home, Adam Holloway (@Damski32 on Twitter) and I decided to kick back and have some fun with RiseNDraft.com’s mock draft simulator. We each ran two separate mocks, only four rounds long, and ran it differently to show the possibilities on the board for Atlanta. So lets get this underway:

Hunter Thompson Mock

In my mock, I chose to go with a route that many fans may not love at first glance. I don’t really bolster the trenches early, I grab Matt Ryan’s successor even though we may have more pressing needs, and I grabbed a couple of the more “raw” prospects that fill more of a role than can become immediate starters. It isn’t necessarily as flashy as some, but I do think a mock like this would do wonders for filling out the roster and giving our Falcons a solid foundation to be building on:

Round 1 Pick 6: Kyle Hamilton, SAF, Notre Dame

Right, its not someone to add to the trenches, but hear me out. Hamilton is one of, if not the best, prospect in this upcoming draft class. Hamilton is a 6’4″ 220lb safety that can do it all. He can be the TE eraser, he can step up in the box, he runs the single high, he can blitz, and his tackling is top tier. He has six interceptions in his collegiate career already (four as a true freshman and already two on this young season). Giving the Falcons a budding safety trio of Hamilton, Richie Grant, and Jaylinn Hawkins would give Dean Pees the ability to create all kinds of different defensive looks and mismatches. Plus Hamilton is an Atlanta kid, so that’s just an added bonus.

Round 2 Pick 37: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss

Once again, not trenches but once again, hear me out. Matt Ryan isn’t getting any younger and him currently behind this offensive line is not a good recipe for extending his shelf life. Here we have the Falcons grabbing Matt Corral from Ole Miss. Corral is one of the most exciting QB’s in this upcoming draft class. He has a great arm and is mobile enough to extend the pocket and make all the throws on the field. Corral is a vocal and charismatic player who could bring a lot of fun energy to the Falcons while providing us the opportunity to stabilize the position for the long term. Only con to Corral is that a redshirt year would really really benefit him because as high as his highs are, his lows are incredibly low.

Round 2 Pick 43: Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota

Finally got to the trenches. First let me clarify, I am a Kaleb McGary believer so this pick could easily change as the season goes on. But, right now the OL needs a remodel. Matthews and Lindstrom are the only current players I am convinced are worth keeping, and there wasn’t a great iOL on the board so looks like McGary is the odd man out in this mock. Faalele is a monster of a human being measuring in at 6’8″ 370lbs. He didn’t look amazing in 2019, but came out firing on all cylinders this season looking so much better. He has long arms and has a good base in pass pro, not to mention he is an absolute mauler in the run game. Adding Faalele to the Falcons OL would be a good step to helping Smith and Fontenot in turning this team into a contender.

Round 3 Pick 68: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia

The former number one overall prospect, Nolan Smith has been a little underwhelming so far in his UGA career. But Smith is looking to turn those fortunes around this season. In his season opener against Clemson, he was constantly generating pressure for the Bulldogs defense, with three tackles and a sack. Smith is a smaller EDGE at 6’3″ 235lbs who could be a good DPR (Designated Pass Rusher) for the defense that Atlanta is trying to build. Smith is raw and has plenty of areas to improve, but we grab him in the third to help our underwhelming pass rush.

Round 4 Pick 105: Zacch Pickens, DL, South Carolina

And the last pick in this mock I have the Falcons grabbing DL Zacch Pickens from the university of South Carolina. The former 5-star recruit is incredibly similar to Nolan Smith in the sense that we are still waiting for them to burst out. But Pickens looks like he is starting to do it. Pickens, the 6’4″ 305lb DL, is a solid run defender who could be a good rotational piece along the DL with guys like Marlon Davidson, Ta’Quon Graham, and Grady Jarrett already in place to help further his development. Pickens needs to really improve as a pass rusher, to be justified at this pick, but it’s week 1 and I am banking on his growth as a player this year.

Adam Holloway Mock

Round 1 Pick 6: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

  • Evan Neal presents something that ATL hasn’t had since the Bob Whitfield days, and that’s a legit body mover. Neal is about to forklift defenders and acts like a bouncer and takes his opponents out of the club. Has massive size and when he gets his massive hands on you it’s basically over. Has incredible ability to finish blocks and asserts himself physically.

Round 2 Pick 37: Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia

  • Jordan Davis gives you some moxie on the DL in the form of a NT. Davis isn’t your typical NT; he’s the new era of NT who can be effective in the pass game as well. With an undersized NT now in Tyler Davison, it’s clear the defense struggle to maintain gap control with linebacker Deion Jones. Not only does Davis help the DL and give Pees a key cog in the middle, but he’ll help see less double teams.

Round 2 Pick 43: Jordan Battle, SAF, Alabama

  • Jordan Battle gives ATL a much needed Swiss Army knife on the backend and a tone setter in the secondary. Battle is really coming along in man and zone coverage but he’s also a load in the box. Battle doesn’t shy away from tackle and relishes the idea of taking on a RB in the hole. Atlanta lacks this kind of player and double dipping into Alabama’s program really sets the team up for the future.

Round 3 Pick 68: Kyren Williams, RB, Notre Dame

Williams gives you that hard running outside zone RB who can hit a hole fast and on time. Arthur Smith also puts a huge emphasis on RBs blocking out of the backfield and can do that. Also features soft hands receiving. What really stands out to me is his patience and explosion; he can take off quickly and is effective at setting up his blockers.

Round 4 Pick 105: Ty Fryfogle, WR, Indiana

The 6’2″ 215lb boundary WR from Indiana could be a solid running mate to pair with Calvin Ridley and give Matt Ryan a safety net target and a new potential weapon for inside the red zone. Ryan has typically struggled in the red zone, so another big WR with solid hands is a good fit. We have to add weapons who can impact the short term and long term pictures, Fryfogle does that.

Key Matchups to be Watching in Falcons vs Eagles

The NFL Season is finally back as Week 1 is finally upon us. Week 1 the Falcons will be defending Mercedes Benz Stadium against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Falcons and Eagles are both debuting brand new coaching staffs and plenty of new additions for each roster. So let’s take a look at the key matchups to keep an eye on this Sunday:

Falcons DLine vs Eagles OLine

The Falcons are bringing in new defensive coordinator Dean Pees to help bring a new life to the defense. And he will have a real test week 1 against the Eagles. The Eagles have some good talent on the offensive line when they’re healthy in Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, and Landon Dickerson. When looking at the Falcons defensive line the real star is obviously Grady Jarrett but he won’t be able to do it himself. It will be up to Dean Pees and the rest of the defensive line to disrupt the Eagles offense. The game will come down to the trenches and the Falcons DLine will need to step up in order to win the game.

Jalen Mayfield vs Fletcher Cox

Falcons 3rd round pick Jalen Mayfield is getting his first start at Left Guard this week against the Eagles. Mayfield was drafted out of Michigan where he played his career at Right Tackle, but he has been getting reps in the preseason at Left Guard. But this is the start of the gauntlet for the young guard against Fletcher Cox, the Eagles elite DT. Cox has been one of the top interior defensive lineman in the NFL for years now, and Mayfield will be getting a real test against him. Once again, the Falcons victory will come down to the trenches and Mayfield will be a key piece of the Falcons offensive line.

Calvin Ridley vs Darius Slay

Calvin Ridley is stepping into the WR1 role for the Falcons this season after the departure of Julio Jones. Ridley is an elite route runner who can make corners look absolutely silly. Which will be very entertaining to watch against Darius Slay. Slay was one of the top corners for a few years while in Detroit, but his first season in Philadelphia was not as good as his time in Detroit. If Slay is back to the level we know he can play at, it’ll be interesting to see how he competes against a player of Ridley’s caliber.

Arthur Smith vs Nick Sirianni

Both the Falcons and the Eagles replaced Head Coaches who brought them mixed results in Dan Quinn and Doug Pederson and replaced with both Arthur Smith and Nick Sirianni, respectfully. Both Smith and Sirianni are offensive minded coaches who are getting the reigns of their own teams in Atlanta and Philadelphia. It’ll be interesting to see the game plans and strategies that these coaches and their staffs cook up to attack each other.

This Week 1 matchup will be an awesome way to see how close both teams are to competing for their own division and for playoff spots. What do you expect to see from both of these teams? How do you think the Falcons will fare against the Eagles? Did I miss any key matchups to be watching? Let me know!

Follow on Twitter @falcons_atb

Solutions to the Falcons Backup Quarterback Problem

The Atlanta Falcons have an interesting situation going on inside their Quarterback room; they have an experienced starter in Matt Ryan, they have a career backup in AJ McCarron, and they signed Undrafted Free Agent Feleipe Franks to be their 3rd string project Quarterback. It sounds like a normal situation, but neither McCarron or Franks have proven that they can be the number two quarterback behind the Falcons legendary number 2.

Can Feleipe Franks' legs carry him closer to backup quarterback job?

In today’s NFL the backup quarterback is slowly becoming a somewhat premium position. You want a quarterback that could step in and fill in for you and your team in a pinch if anything were to happen to your franchise guy. Sometimes that backup role is filled by a former starter who might have just lost his ability, sometimes it is filled by a project quarterback who the team hopes will develop into something worthwhile, and other times it is filled by a career clipboard holder who knows the ins and outs of the offense and can run it at a serviceable level. Let’s take a look at some guys the Falcons could target to solidify the question mark holding the clipboard.

Josh Rosen

Josh Rosen is a former first round pick who many touted as the safest QB selection in 2018 NFL Draft, myself included in that. Rosen was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals old regime who quickly moved on from him as they drafted Kyler Murray in 2019. Rosen then went to the Dolphins where we struggled to earn reps against Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Why am I talking about a bust being able to help solidify the Falcons QB room? Well when Rosen declared for the NFL Draft, he was talked about being one of the smartest QB’s in the classes and was constantly compared to Falcons great Matt Ryan. Adding Rosen to the QB room in an offense that has similarities to his current one in San Francisco could make for a smooth transition into our QB competition while providing the opportunity to be mentored by Matt Ryan.

Then when you factor the Niners drafting Trey Lance while still having Jimmy Garoppolo on roster, it looks like Rosen is on the outside looking in once again. Rosen looks like a current long shot to make the Niners roster, which could be a nice bargain bin find for the Falcons.

Robert Griffin III

If the Falcons wanted to go the route of adding a more seasoned veteran to sit behind Ryan, they could very easily go the route of former Heisman winner Robert Griffin III. The former second over pick by Washington has had some injury concerns derail what looked to be a promising NFL career. RG3 got let go from Washington in 2015 and has floated around the league signing with the Browns and the Ravens.

RG3 falls into the category of guys who were former starters and lost the ability to be a starter. He has experience in multiple offenses and has some significant game experience the question with him, is how can his body hold up, and can he still play at a high enough level to warrant a roster spot.

If the Falcons felt that RG3 could be a serviceable backup for the team, he would be a decent scheme fit with the offense that Arthur Smith will be implementing.

Logan Woodside/Matt Barkley

I doubt Tennessee keeps both of these Quarterback’s on roster. Woodside looked very good against the Falcons defense the other night going 10-15 for 84 yards and a touchdown. Woodside gives us a younger signal caller who could potentially develop into a career QB2 or for our team.

Matt Barkley is the flip side of this providing a career backup who could step in during a pinch. Barkley has had that role most of his NFL career in Philly and Buffalo and now Tennessee. For context Barkley went 5/8 for 54 yards with a touchdown against our Atlanta defense.

I will say that neither of these options is super appealing, but both should be looked at as options to beat out AJ McCarron for the job. Barkley will be similar to Chase Daniel/Colt McCoy in the sense of providing quality veteran depth who could also feature as a future mentor. While Woodside gives a more of a long-term solution to the backup QB issue.

Whichever Bills Quarterback Gets Cut

The Bills have Jake Fromm, Mitch Trubisky, and Davis Webb all competing for the number 2 and 3 slots behind Josh Allen. All three of these Quarterbacks have the potential to be cut with Trubisky being the least likely. Which leaves the roster bubble names as Davis Webb and Jake Fromm. UGA fans should be pretty familiar with Jake Fromm who was a starter for the Bulldogs for a few seasons.

He is a typical game manager who may not be head and shoulders over McCarron, but he is an upgrade. He is a limited athlete who uses his IQ and intangibles to lead the offense. He makes safe conservative passes to chip away at the defense. What makes Fromm appealing is that Arthur Smith’s offense would be a play to Fromm’s strengths as a passer and as a quarterback.

Davis Webb is very very similar to Jake Fromm, just more experience as a clipboard holder. Very similar as a passer, Webb is more accuracy and a limited athlete. So no matter which Buffalo cuts, if either, we would be adding a safe conservative passer who doesn’t have any athletic ability to take over games. But both are fairly smart passers who are safe with the ball.

Kurt Benkert

Will this happen? Probably not. There is a strong chance that the Packers run with 3 quarterbacks so he might not even be available. But if Kurt Benkert were to become available the Falcons need to make the call. Benkert has become one of the league’s favorite backups due to his Video Game streaming and his fun personality.

Kurt Benkert was a Falcon for the past couple of seasons competing for a roster spot. He is a more athletic passer than some of the other names on the list and would be a nice scheme fit for the Arthur Smith offense with his ability to be more mobile like what Smith had with Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee with his ability to escape and expand the pocket with his legs. Benkert also has a very solid arm to pair with his mobility.

What makes Benkert so appealing is that he is familiar with the Falcons organization with being here from 2019-2020. However that is also part of the reason it’s so tricky to potentially bring back Benkert. It’s an entirely different regime who decided he was expendable when they took over. Which is part of the issue in our backup Quarterback hunt. However if there was even a shot to bring Benkert back into Atlanta, the Falcons should jump on it.

Gardner Minshew II

This is my dream scenario out of this list. But it is also probably the least likely to happen. Minshew is currently “battling” for the number 1 job in Jacksonville. I use the term battling loosely due to Trevor Lawrence being drafted 1st overall in the most recent draft class.

In this hypothetical situation we will say Minshew loses the battle for the sake of the discussion, which is what will probably happen. But, Minshew is a 25 year old QB who has starting experience in both 2019 and 2020, compiling a stat line of: 5530 yards, 37 TD’s, 11 INT’s, completion percentage of 62.9% and a QBR of 93.1 through 20 career starts. Which is very solid for what he had to work with in Jacksonville during his time there.

Minshew is an accurate passer who has the confidence and swagger to lead the offense in a pinch or for a stretch of games. He has the gunslinger mentality to match his mullet which could add some personality to to the Falcons locker room. I personally would just love to see the personality switch from Ryan to Minshew if they ever rotate during games. But that’s just more of a pipe dream than anything.

Minshew could potentially give the Falcons a way to move on from Matt Ryan at the end of his tenure while providing competent Quarterback to replace him with, without having to give up major capital. The biggest issue with Minshew is we aren’t quite sure if Jacksonville will even want to sell on him because they may want him to help mentor Trevor Lawrence. And at that same time, if they wanted to sell we aren’t sure what pick they would want. I’ll play it safe and assume the Jags would want a day 2 pick for a 25 year old QB who could be a starter.

Which of these Quarterbacks do you think would be the best addition to Atlanta’s locker room to backup Matty Ice? Did I forget a name you wanted? Do you have any criticism or comments? Well let us know @falcons_atb on Twitter!

Falcons Pre-Season Depth Chart: Time to Panic?

Today the Atlanta Falcons released their Pre-Season Depth Chart. As always there is plenty of questions about the depth chart order and players positions. We’re going to take a look at this chart order and some of the biggest question marks and decide if we need to relax or panic for each question:

Kyle Pitts as TE3:

Kyle Pitts is currently listed as the number 3 Tight End option for the Falcons behind Hayden Hurst and Lee Smith. All this listing does is show that Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot want us the rookies to earn their time. Which should not be an issue for Kyle Pitts who was the first round pick for our Falcons. Pitts has shown some incredible pass catching skills this pre-season and looks to become a favorite target for Matt Ryan.

Verdict: Relax

Willie Beavers as the Starting RT:

This is the one that probably makes the least initial sense, Kaleb McGary being the RT2 to a journeyman player that has never really stuck around? Not ideal but Kaleb McGary has missed most of training camp due to an undisclosed injury. The main reason Willie Beavers is probably listed ahead of McGary is to make sure he knows the scheme and has proper time to recover and get acclimated to the new offense.

Verdict: Relax

Steven Means and JTM starting over Dante Fowler:

This is not something that we should be worried about. Personally I think it’s to allow Fowler to get more reps in pass rushing situations. BUT even if it is due to Means and JTM being better players than Fowler, we can’t be upset that Smith and Co. are playing the best players, even if that means Fowler and his contract ride the bench.

Verdict: Relax

Richie Grant as SAF3:

See Kyle Pitts explanation above… Grant should become a key piece in the Falcons defense in due time, he just needs to learn the Dean Pees defense which is super safety oriented. I’m a firm believer in Richie Grant who I think could be a potential DROTY candidate in Dean Pees defense.

Verdict: Relax

Wait… All of these are relax? Yes… It’s preseason week 1 of an entirely new coaching staff. There is absolutely nothing to be worried about with a preseason depth chart. Will I be concerned if Willie Beavers is our starting RT going into Week 1? Yes. But that’s a bridge we cross if we get to it. Right now lets all kick back, relax, and watch some Falcons football.

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