Reasons the Falcons’ 0-4 preseason doesn’t bother me and shouldn’t bother you:
1. You don’t play at real-game tempo or make real-game adjustments in exhibitions. You’re not trying to win but to evaluate. You want to see how your guys react in certain spots. You’re not looking to game-plan those spots to your advantage. Had the Falcons cared all that much about winning a game that doesn’t count, they’d have inserted Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Michael Turner and Tony Gonzalez at the start of the fourth quarter of the fourth exhibition. But nobody’s that crazy.
2. You don’t set a real tone in exhibitions. Because everyone’s tone gets louder come Week 1 of the real season. If you go 4-0, nobody cares. And the only time someone remembers that you’ve gone 4-0 is when you go 0-16 in the regular season. That happened to the Detroit Lions in 2008. (And guess who just went 4-0 again, thereby making Detroit fans nervous?)
3. If you exit the preseason reasonably healthy, you’ve accomplished your mission. Save for center Todd McClure, the Falcons did that. They’re in great shape.
4. The only Falcon of consequence who required significant work in preseason was Julio Jones. Because he’s a rookie. And he looked very, very good.
4(a). Oh, and maybe Peria Jerry. Because he has been hurt. He looked good, too.
5. The real pros know how much preseason matters. We speak of the folks who attempt to augment their income betting on games. These aren’t fanciful people. They’re pragmatists. And you know how disappointed these dispassionate observers were in the Falcons?
So disappointed the Falcons are a three-point road favorite against a team that won its division and played for the 2010 NFC title. The opening line had Chicago a one-point pick, which means a ton of money has since been placed on the local eleven. That’s not a guarantee of anything, but it’s a powerful indicator. (For the record, the Bears were 2-2 in preseason. To which I say: Nobody cares.)
By Mark Bradley