Week three is in the books for the Falcons and they are still yet to win a game. There are promising signs at Receiver and Linebacker for Atlanta but definite areas of improvement. Let’s get down to the key points of last night’s defeat to the Jets.
The Falcons saw the ball hit the ground three times on Thursday night. Admittedly two of them were Matt Simms (taking him to three for the preseason) but it is something to be wary of for the Falcons. If they are to compete in a tough NFC South, they must take care of the football.
Grace Continues to Impress
Jermaine Grace put in another great performance, following up five total tackles, a pick and a pass deflection vs Miami with six tackles against the Jets, though only two were solo. Grace is gradually earning a spot on the roster as a backup to Deion Jones in the middle and will likely see action in subpackages or if injuries hit the Falcons.
Kicking Issues in Atlanta?
With Matt Bryant finally retiring after last season, the Falcons have moved to Giorgio Tavecchio as the full time option. Tavecchio played well last week, going 3/3 – though his longest was 38 yards, but against the Jets there were signs of concern as Tavecchio went one for three plus an extra point. His made field goal was just 24 yards and he has only made 57% of field goals in Atlanta’s three preseason games. How long will Dan Quinn be patient if Tavecchio maintains this form?
Where’s the Running Game?
There were sprouts of optimism for the Falcons running game against the Dolphins but it was a return to reality against the Jets, averaging 3 yards a carry on 27 rushes for 87 yards. Yes it is only the preseason and they have barely got Devonta Freeman or Ito Smith involved but the Falcons made huge investment in the offensive line to boost the running game, as well as protect Matt Ryan. It will be interesting to see if this trends continue when the stars are playing fulltime come week one.
Matt Ryan Looking Strong
In limited action, Matt Ryan looked strong, going 10-14 for 118 yards (no touchdowns or interceptions) with a rating of 96.7. He did take three sacks, another bad sign for the revamped offensive line, but everything is set up for Ryan to compete for the passing yards crown in 2019.
With the Falcons 60% of the way through their preseason, they can get back to the practice field with a few things to work on and decisions to be made. They’ll have one eye on the screen though with Tampa and Carolina playing on the road tonight before the Saints host the Chargers on Sunday. We’re getting closer but we’re still not quite at ‘real’ football yet.