It’s Still Live Football
However, even though it was a preseason game, there were serious deficiencies throughout the entire defensive performance. All the fears that many fans had about replacing 5 starters, completely retooling the linebacking corps, and having youth and inexperience all over the roster, weren’t alleviated and were in fact amplified. Overall, its too difficult to gauge if the coaches got what they wanted out of the game, but there were some really bad performances by several players that likely hurt some of their chances at making the roster if they don’t improve in a hurry. A look at performances put forth by individual players by position, the good first, which of course would be the offense:
Matt Ryan looked pretty good after shaking the rust off in the first couple of plays. Ryan had a quick night, but looked crisp with a few of his throws converting on 3rd down, got a couple of nice passes to his old friend Roddy White for some nice pickups, and displaying the great connection of what’s to come with Tony Gonzalez getting a nice 3rd and long conversion. Chris Redman seemed a bit off throughout the game, throwing some passes that were less than assertive and looking generally flat-footed in his time at QB, even though he was put in a few poor positions. Overall, he surely looks like a huge price tag in a backup role at $4.5 million. DJ Shockley appeared to have a good command of the offense and threw the ball well, except for one pass that was well overthrown. He especially looked good on two throws in the 2nd half, gunning a nice 3rd and long to Eric Weems for a nice first down. The other was a perfectly placed long ball to Robert Ferguson in the end zone that would’ve been a touchdown if the Lions defensive back hadn’t interfered, the pass set up a 1 yd touchdown by Snelling. John Parker Wilson seemed to have a decent grasp on running the offense as a 3rd team quarterback, completing all 3 of his passes.
The first offensive series didn’t look too promising for our vaunted rushing attack from last year, but the Burner Turner allayed those fears really quickly with that awesome 40 yard jaunt for a touchdown. Turner also had a couple of nice runs in the second series before the long touchdown rush. That masterful rush for 6 points of course ended #33’s night. Jerious Norwood came in after Turner, and didn’t have the best of nights. Norwood seemed to lack good vision missing several open holes and running into the back of tacklers. As mentioned before, its very, VERY early, but Norwood seems to have a few kinks to work out. Jason Snelling saw limited action, but made the most of it scoring a 1 yd touchdown and showed that he may be the best option as a short yardage, grinding back. Although struggling some initially, Thomas Brown seemed to gain a little momentum towards the end of the game making some good inside runs for a decent amount of yardage. Even though Verron Haynes didn’t have any rushes, he did have a nice catch and run out of the backfield.
Great to see Roddy White getting back in the groove after his week of holding out. White made a couple nice catches from Matty Ice and got a little extra work in after the other starters headed for the sidelines. That one reverse to White was ugly from the start and might need to go back to the drawing board. Eric Weems was really the only other receiver to make more than one catch, but he continued to put his stamp on a roster spot with a couple of solid catches, one coming on a third and long conversion. Add to that his outstanding punt return and its easy to see why Weems appears headed for a certain spot. Receivers didn’t get a whole lot of looks more than White and Weems, but Finneran had a good catch for a first down working out of the first team slot. Not sure that Finneran gives a ton of speed out of the slot, but he certainly gives Ryan a great slew of big targets along with Michael Jenkins and Tony Gonzalez. Aaron Kelly had a pretty nice grab towards the end of the game, Marty Booker hauled in two passes, and even though Robert Ferguson didn’t have a catch he had a touchdown in hand if not for the interference. Troy Bergeron and Darren Mougey were noticeably absent in a game they can ill afford to go without notice to earn a roster spot.
It was a real quick night for Tony Gonzalez, but he made the most of it by picking up a nice 3rd down conversion from Matt Ryan. He seemed to fit in nicely with the Falcons offense, always looking for that extra block to spring Turner or a wideout for a long gain. He hit the sidelines and put on a visor after that. The other tight ends didn’t see a lot of action with Peele and Zinger catching one pass a piece for short yardage.
The “Burn Unit” looked pretty good in their debut springing Turner for over 60 yards in a very short amount of time. The Nasty Boys, Harvey Dahl and Tyson Clabo, were up to their old ways dish-ragging a poor rookie to the ground pretty close to the whistle. Gotta love that. The Nasty Boys were also responsible for Turner’s long burn for a touchdown. It was a thing of beauty to watch Clabo perform a crushing down block, and see Dahl do a quick outside pull to bounce Turner loose. Sam Baker, Todd McClure, & Justin Blaylock also looked good as well, providing Ryan with good time to throw the ball except for a couple of blitzes. The backup line saw Brett Romberg at center, Will Svitek and Garrett Reynolds at tackles, and Quinn Ojinnaka, Ben Wilkerson, and Michael Butterworth working at guards. The backup line seemed to be pretty solid, but nothing spectacular. Norwood had limited running lanes, and Redman got pressured several times.
Overall, the offense looked pretty good in the first preseason game, particularly compared to the defense and rotating four quarterbacks into the game. The starting offense looked a touch rusty in the first series, but settled down nicely and moved the ball well and had several big 3rd down conversions. Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, and Roddy White seemed to pick right back where they left off last season, and Tony Gonzalez gave a brief glimpse of what’s to come. The line looked pretty sharp for the first game, DJ Shockley seemed to gain ground on Chris Redman as the number 2 QB, Eric Weems is all but locking up a roster spot with his performance, and Thomas Brown and Jason Snelling showed flashes. All in all a good start. Now for the defense……..coming tomorrow.
Daily Tailgate Recipe
Maybe not necessarily a tailgate recipe, but one of the best breakfast sandwiches EVER! Sausage, English Muffin, & Gravy Sandwich, courtesy of Bobby Flay and Foodnetwork.com.
Next Topic Preview: Oh, the Horror! Falcons-Lions Game Wrap, Pt. 2; Defense & Spec Teams