FLOWERY BRANCH — Halfway through the exhibition season, the Falcons’ new coordinators, Mike Nolan and Dirk Koetter, gave an update on the progress on the implementation of their new schemes.
“We still have a lot of work to do because you want to detail things out,” Nolan said. “There is a big difference between our first group and our backups. Some guys need to step up as far as the backups go.”
The starting offense has played well while working heavily on the passing attack.
“We are definitely improving,” Koetter said. “You want to get better each time you go out there. But there is still plenty of stuff that we need to work on. I think we’re on the right track and making progress.”
The starters have handed the reserves a lead in both exhibition games, but the backups haven’t been able to hold the fort. The Falcons’ seven-game losing mark in exhibition games is the longest active streak in the league.
But the starters will play into the third quarter against the Miami Dolphins at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Sun Life Stadium.
“I would say that there’s some good and bad,” Nolan said of the defense’s overall play. “You actually want some adversity to show up in the preseason because that’s the reality of the regular season. We’ve had some of that.”
The defense had three three-and-outs in the opener against Baltimore.
In the second game against Cincinnati, they had some missed tackles and leaky pass coverage with cornerback Asante Samuel getting beat on a double move route by Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green.
“It’s hard to say or gauge where we are,” Nolan said. “But I’m not disappointed with the group at all. I like their energy.”
Nolan places a higher value on the practice time than on the exhibition games.
“Because not every team, including Kansas City, who we open with, is going to do what they are going to do in the opener,” Nolan said. “So practice is critical at this point. I think we’ve responded really well in practice. Putting the two together, I’m kind of in the middle. You don’t want to get too high or too low.”
The offense has been dazzling at times, but the unit has also stalled inside the 20-yard line. Matt Bryant had to kick two short (20 and 22 yards) field goals when drives stalled against Cincinnati. Koetter would prefer touchdowns.
The unit has started fast in the two previous games. Koetter wants to see how they come out to start the third quarter against the Dolphins.
“Let’s see if we can get off to a fast start in the second half,” said Koetter, who noted that the Falcons are putting together a mock game-plan for the Dolphins. “We’re changing some things up; formations and the motions. We want to see how they handle the mental part of it.”
THE LATEST NEWS