Atlanta Falcons Preseason Opener Was a Costly Loss, But With an Upside

By Michael Collins

Just a few words to all the Atlanta Falcons fans and followers.  It’s the preseason, and it’s going to be fine.  Yes, the Falcons ended up on the wrong side of a 31-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, but the news isn’t all bad, not by a longshot.  So to loosely quote Atlanta and ESPN radio personality John Kincade: Just open the bottle, sit back,…and let it breathe.

For one thing, the simple fact is that the Atlanta first-team offense and defense completely dominated Baltimore’s.  Quarterback Matt Ryan looked sharp, outside of his one interception, and showed a huge improvement on the touch passes he threw as compared to past seasons.

Julio Jones looked like he would have owned any defender on the planet.  He will absolutely become Optimus Prime to the Detroit Lions‘ Megatron, Calvin Johnson.

The Falcons’ offensive line could actually be described with superlatives beyond the scope of “adequate” or “capable” for the first time in well over a year, although the right side of the line still needs to get a better push on run blocking.

Jacquizz Rodgers finally gave us a taste of how he became one of the mightiest diminutive backs in college football, and Michael Turner showed he can still plow through a stout defensive line with the best of them.

Speaking of defensive lines…

Atlanta’s defensive front tallied up three sacks while the first team was on the field, one of them by starting middle linebacker Akeem Dent.  The Falcons’ pass defense also looked solid, and beautifully defended a number of Joe Flacco tosses.

So, there was a lot of good going on in this game.

And then – there was the second half.

The Falcons reserves looked unprepared and confused for the most part.  Too many missed assignments.  Too many blown coverages.  Too many turnovers.  It was a shambolic performance by a bunch of guys who are supposed to be fighting to impress the coaches for a spot.

There were also two key injuries in the game.  Akeem Dent suffered a head injury after a helmet-to-helmet collision while playing on special teams, and rookie fullback Bradie Ewing injured his leg while blocking on a punt return.

Dent will more than likely be required to enter the NFL‘s concussion-protocol program, and Ewing, depending on the severity of the injury, could be gone for the season.

So in a game of highs and lows for the Georgia Dome crowd, it ended up being just what it was.  An exhibition game.


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