Opening night: A passing grade for the Falcons’ passing game

Julio Jones makes his touchdown snag. Impressive, eh? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Julio Jones makes his touchdown snag. Impressive, eh? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

We cannot know in August what will happen, or not happen, in January. We can’t even know if the Falcons be playing then. Being human, we still look for clues. And what we saw Thursday night was most encouraging. The Falcons met the Baltimore Ravens, who played for the AFC title last season, and looked much the better side when both sets of starters were deployed.

The only number worth a second glance in an exhibition game is the score when the first starting quarterback exits. Here it was 14-7, and it was only that close because the Ravens’ Joe Flacco stayed in and led a touchdown drive against the Falcons’ second-string D.

The Falcons’ No. 1 offense had the ball four times and scored two touchdowns. Matt Ryan, who bulked up over the offseason, looked a little stronger and perhaps a bit quicker. He threw 13 passes, completing nine, for 155 yards. He hoisted a lovely fade to Julio Jones, who pulled it down in the end zone, but also threw a misread of an interception.

In all, Ryan looked good. Jones looked, not to put too fine a point on it, great. Beyond the touchdown, he made a leaping catch over the middle and a tough grab down the sideline, and he even turned a screen pass into a 19-yard gain, at which point every Falcons fan exclaimed, “At last a screen! Dirk Koetter is a genius!”

Jones’ numbers: Seven passes thrown his way, six caught for 109 yards and six points. That’ll do.

“They were very effective, very efficient,” said Mike Smith, speaking of the starters. “I thought we threw the ball very well.”

And now you’re asking: What about the offensive line? It looked pretty good. Ryan wasn’t sacked. (He was pressured a couple of times.) The Falcons’ first four possessions yielded 36 rushing yards and 193 yards all told. Nothing wrong with that.

Then again, Ray Lewis didn’t play for the Ravens, and Ed Reed worked only one series. And that’s why we can’t get too worked up over anything we see in August. Preseason yields no conclusions; it only offers hints. The Falcons had to be encouraged that their first-teamers didn’t allow even a Baltimore first down, but the sight of Akeem Dent, who’s vying to start at middle linebacker, getting knocked out covering a second-quarter punt had to curb any enthusiasm.

If you wanted to see Ryan throwing the ball to Jones, you got your wish. If you wanted to see the Falcons look sharp for the first quarter, you got that, too. But nobody’s going to be thinking about this game in January, or even September. This was a nice start for a team that needs to have a big season. The season itself doesn’t begin for another month.

“It was a start,” Ryan said. “It was a good start.”

The final three quarters were less salubrious. The Falcons scored only three points after Ryan and the starters departed, and Baltimore won 31-17 after trailing 14-zip. Not that it  mattered. If the season comes down to John Parker Wilson or Chris Redman having to move the Falcons 80 yards, the season’s lost. If Ryan stays upright and the offense plays anywhere close to its potential, this season could last into February.

By Mark Bradley

88 comments Add your comment

youTROLLScalledAINTS

August 9th, 2012
11:53 pm

chalkdawg4

August 9th, 2012
11:55 pm

Can it be?? I was there. 1st quarter was impressive.

Kane337

August 9th, 2012
11:56 pm

The first stringers looked fantastic. The bench warmers…..ugh!

Can you give us an update on Brady Ewing?

The Grinch

August 9th, 2012
11:56 pm

The first string looked good, and I liked what I saw out of Massaqoui, Davis and McLain. But there was some pretty shaky play from many of the reserves and having Dent covering punts in the second quarter was inexcusable. I hate it for Ewing; thank god Cox looked pretty good in his place. As long as our starters stay healthy, I feel good about our chances.

youTROLLScalledAINTS

August 9th, 2012
11:56 pm

Now for the article! Great! I wont mess it up with any more talk! Kudos please?

Keith

August 9th, 2012
11:57 pm

Nice showing. NOt that preseason really means anything. :)

Go birds.

The Grinch

August 9th, 2012
11:57 pm

They won’t announce it ’til tomorrow, but the look on Ewing’s face says his season’s done.

Esseeesseee speeeed

August 9th, 2012
11:57 pm

Homeboy Akeem dent got knocked the **** out. Uga obviously doesn’t prepare their players properly for the nfl.

The Grinch

August 10th, 2012
12:01 am

According to DOL, “Smith had no regrets Dent was covering punts.” Really? That should be evaluated with everything else.

Lakewood

August 10th, 2012
12:04 am

If only David Ross could play backup QB as well as he does backup Catcher….I think calling Redman mediocre would be giving him too much credit..

Who Me?

August 10th, 2012
12:08 am

Clearly we have no depth on defense and no skill players once the starting O leaves the field. Redman looked either bad or just very flat. Davis got no help from 3rd string TE on first pass interception. But this is what pre-season is for, knocking around guys who won’t be around when the season starts. Robert James played his *** off, all that practice squad work paying off for him, he should make the team. Quizz looked good.

JSS

August 10th, 2012
12:18 am

Starters play special teams in the NFL! Problem is, like last year when when you were relegated to playing James in a playoff game, the depth leaves you expecting the worst…

Nicholas and Walls showed well… The Dress Rehearsal game next week is going to be interesting when Andy Dalton come at them with some extended looks… Seriously time to end the John Parker Wilson charade!

Tree rollins

August 10th, 2012
12:21 am

Same old thing at quarterback – never changes. If Matt Ryan is injured the entire season is over. Why can’t we get a decent backup like the rest of the league’s teams???

Tree rollins

August 10th, 2012
12:23 am

Redman and JPW are jokes at quarterback in the NFL. Redman must have pictures of Mike Smith with goats!

Tree rollins

August 10th, 2012
12:24 am

I’d take Joey Harrington over those guys any day!

eric

August 10th, 2012
12:27 am

This certainly beats the start we had last preseason where the starting offense didn’t even score a TD the entire preseason. They looked good the first quarter…

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

August 10th, 2012
12:36 am

Too bad there is no time machine to fast forward through the season. You guys say the same thing each preseason, then comes playoff time all we here are crickets :)

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

August 10th, 2012
12:38 am

Lets see……

The starters you think played well…..

The reserves couldn’t stop UGA…………..

So a starter gets injured……………

Then a reserve becomes a starter…………….

What is the moral of this story boys and girls? :)

db falcons fan

August 10th, 2012
12:53 am

I think D. Davis was the second best quarterback. Maybe BEER-Man (yes I know that is not how u spell it) can play middle linebacker. He lookes good. Put D. Davis in with the second team O and let’s see how he does. Cut john parker wilson tonight. Mama said u can not trust a man with three first names

db falcons fan

August 10th, 2012
12:58 am

BTW…. Encouraged by the D….. 3 sacks n three drives…. though Samuel and some1 else got ran slap over in the game

Joe "CHOKE" Flacco

August 10th, 2012
1:09 am

~ ~ Has left the building.

CGD..

August 10th, 2012
1:17 am

Ravens 31

Fal-cons 17

Another crushing defeat by a winner? Cant beat the winners? Broken record Mr Blank?

We have seen this B4?

RG3 won tonight..

This guy will get a playoff win before Ice Melt will…

Joe "CHOKE" Flacco

August 10th, 2012
1:27 am

…. was sacked twice and looked pitiful as usual,

Rally

August 10th, 2012
2:15 am

Falcons fools. Keep drinking your koolaid. Say what you want…I keep hearing the same garbage year in and year out. Wait till next year. It’s crap. Oh we looked good in the first few reps. You lost the freaking game you morons. Preseason or not I think you should come out ready to play…and drive some fear into other teams. Not lose. Pathetic if you ask me. I understand putting in your reserve or backups in no question…but losing the game does not exactly instill confidence in me as a spectator. If Ryan goes. Out this team is done.

too legit to quit

August 10th, 2012
3:29 am

No quality reserves!!!!! It all started with an average Draft and TD trying to make his draft picks stick. But this can be corrected and must be corrected!!!! TD and Smith have to watch the Boards, there will be some players there who can help the Falcons.

clay

August 10th, 2012
4:27 am

People always have something to complain about.

The ATLER strikes again.......

August 10th, 2012
5:06 am

T.D. looks like a genius drafting Dominique Davis. This guy look good even though he was playing with the fourth string. He has an awesome, strong arm even though he had no receivers who wanted to catch the ball. In 2 years the Mattie Paddie Ice era will be over in ATL. Good bye bubble gum arm and hello future of the Falcons Dominique Davis.

dean

August 10th, 2012
6:00 am

P. Jerry looked very, very quick. Hope he stays healthy.

Ellabell1

August 10th, 2012
6:24 am

Ryan would never have been intercepted if he could just learn not to look at the receiver the whole time. He knows where that receiver is going to be. Look elsewhere first then turn and zip that ball to the spot.

B

August 10th, 2012
6:29 am

Julio looked great……100+ yards in 1st quarter. Bosher STILL can’t kick a ball deep in the end zone and I hope Roger Godell figures out this ref issue. Those poor saps looked totally lost.

Otter

August 10th, 2012
6:29 am

I had salubrious once… doc gave me some pills and it cleared right up.

NES

August 10th, 2012
6:34 am

Well, i hate to say it but Fullback Ewing is done for the year as replay shows knee blew out–what a shame as i think he was going to start at FB and contribute in short yardage and goal line situations that we desparately needed. Now for a bigger worry is MLB Dent, he can overcome one concussion but when he gets cleared to play in a couple of weeks or so, i hope this doesn’t make him a player more suspectable to more concussions at this defensive LB position which requires more contact and hitting than any position on the defense–just plain out not good for us!
DT J.Perry looked quick but he sure needs to lose that 20 pounds of baggage to regain that extra burst he had when first drafted. i agree with other blogs, GM Dimitroff left us way too thin at Linebacker positions, we better start scouring other teams for a trade of a quality veteran MLB who can play for a couple of more years and not Brooking either. (thank goodness he’s in Denver) If none available, we will have to wait till final cuts of pre-season and sign one then or raid another team’s practice squad for a good LB. What ever happened to Bear Woods? if available bring him back!

Really?

August 10th, 2012
6:58 am

Tree Rollins @ 12:23
a good goat will do that

AlanFalcon

August 10th, 2012
7:13 am

1st pre-season game and all of the reserve bench coaches are all over this blog, it would be nice if any of them had any idea of how stupid they sound , by the way when does their potty training start ?

Ivan

August 10th, 2012
7:25 am

It’s hilarious. People on here up in arms about 3rd – 4th string players and losing a preseason game. You guys started my Friday off just right. Thanks.

DawgNation2010

August 10th, 2012
7:27 am

Everyone is complaining about Dent getting knocked out. The Ravens player hit him helmet to helmet of course he has a likely hood of getting hurt if that happens. He will come back and be fine, and it doesn’t mean that he is injury prone.

Greg

August 10th, 2012
7:28 am

Our passing game looked great, BUT…where was the running game? Looks like our O-line still can’t generate much of a push. Guys, this is not good. Also, if Ryan ever goes down, as Mark says, we’re truly f**ked. We have GOT to get a decent back-up at QB.

jerry

August 10th, 2012
7:33 am

The Falcons don’t have a #2 quarterback. They have a pair of 3’s and a rookie.

woeismesince66

August 10th, 2012
7:39 am

Some of you cats need to get a life. Good grief.

collegeballfan

August 10th, 2012
7:45 am

‘If the season comes down to John Parker Wilson or Chris Redman having to move the Falcons 80 yards, the season’s lost.’

Which begs the question, why are these two QB’s the backups? Why not a competitor to Ryan?
What if Ryan suffers a season ending in the first game? Then what? Redman and/or Wilson?

Please!

sam

August 10th, 2012
7:49 am

I really hope the Ewing kid is ok. Ran into his family at the Dome last night before the game and had a great conversation with his dad. (There were about 8 of them in from Nebraska for the game wearing Falcons shirts with Ewing on their backs, hard to miss!) All his dad could talk about was how happy he was to be with the Falcons. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers as they evaluate his condition today.

Whadda Ya Know?

August 10th, 2012
7:54 am

Anytime someone takes time to go on a team’s blog–that they’re not a fan of–and criticize, we must be doing something right. All these little Aints fans need to really worry about their own team and how they’ll do this year. This “Choke” character needs to go back to choking on Vick’s nutz.

Anyway, the first team looked good for a change. Maybe because predictable Mularkey is gone? Halleujah! Redman and JPW has been on this team long enough to perform–they need to go. Davis can continue as a developmental QB, but we really need a veteran backup QB.

Backups? What backups? Dimitroff got some splaining to do to Arthur about the lack of backup talent.

Whadda Ya Know?

August 10th, 2012
7:55 am

Joe “CHOKE” Flacco…how appropriate. Now that’s who really choked. LOL

THE INFAMOUS DK

August 10th, 2012
8:08 am

John Parker needs to go to the practice squad and Davis needs to be the third string QB. Massaquoi is going to be a monster. Im worried about our backups.. Oh and number 51 the linebacker is going to be alright as well with a little more “coaching”

Aundray Bruce

August 10th, 2012
8:12 am

Put me in at MLB coach … I’m ready to make a comeback!

Brownie

August 10th, 2012
8:14 am

I was just wondering why many of you even bother to watch football, because you don’t know what you’re doing – but you’re really good at pontificating and whining.

Uh…..its the first pre-season game, folks. I thought the first teams on both sides of the ball, and the special teams, looked great in the first half. I didn’t watch the 2nd half, but obviously the scrubs were in. Most of these guys won’t make the squad, so not to worry.

Another thing nobody is considering is that with the new CBA rules, there is very limited real practice time allowed, and virtually NO hitting. The backup QB’s looked poor apparently, but they’re getting no real reps against solid competition, throwing to guys who will be loading boxes onto trucks in a few weeks, behind blockers who will be driving those trucks.

I thought Ryan looked great – much better ball release. I’ve been preaching him getting into the weight room for years. NOTE: best thing I saw…..Ryan wasn’t throwing the ball high to the receivers!!! He’s stronger, not trying to overthrow…..

everyone be patient

Formul8or

August 10th, 2012
8:19 am

Ray Lewis is old and a shell of his former self, his not playing isn’t a big impact

poledawg

August 10th, 2012
8:25 am

Esseeeseespeeed – You’re an idiot. How many helmet to helmet hits have you taken? Go hangout somewhere else. Put on your big boy pants!

Statick

August 10th, 2012
8:29 am

Okay, John Parker Wilson needs to get cut. Don’t put him on the practice squad for a later call up. CUT HIM. The guy looked like the same garbage he’s been slinging since his first year here. Dominique Davis is the clear number three QB for us. Heck, the way Redman has been lagging Davis could be our bonafide number two QB. We need to get another veteran QB in here. The dropoff after Matt is glaring.

Whadda Ya Know?

August 10th, 2012
8:48 am

Release me from the blog monster please!