In what seems to be a common theme in preseason for the current regime, the Atlanta Falcons were blown out 34-10 by the Cincinnati Bengals in the Georgia Dome.
Before I delve into the positives and negatives of the game, let’s address two points:
1) It’s only preseason. Last preseason, the Falcons went 1-3 and finished the regular season with a 13-3 record and a trip to the NFC Championship Game.
2) The Falcons rarely win in preseason. It’s the status quo.
Also of note: Julio Jones and Sean Weatherspoon both sat out. Jones is nursing a sore hamstring and Weatherspoon has a badly disclocated finger.
– Matt Ryan looked just as sharp as he did last season. Before heading to the bench, he completed 6/9 passes for 89 yards. Ryan got rid of the ball quickly and made accurate throws.
– The screen game still looks fantastic. Harry Douglas showed his speed as he ripped off a 42-yard gain, and the Falcons scored their only touchdown on an eight-yard screen to Jason Snelling.
– Drew Davis looks good. He caught a 31-yard pass from Ryan in traffic and made a nice 22-yard snag on an underthrown ball from Dominique Davis (who played terribly).
– Lamar Holmes wasn’t particularly terrible with pass protection, but there are still three additional preseason games to improve on the run blocking.
– Robert Alford was extremely active, and he looks more impressive than Desmond Trufant at this point (although it should be noted he saw a lot more action than Trufant). You can definitely see Alford’s swagger in his play; he’s a bit of a risk taker, much like the veteran Asante Samuel.
– Newcomer Osi Umenyiora and second-year player Jonathan Massaquoi both generate some nice pressure. That’s encouraging to see.
– Undrafted free agent linebacker Paul Worrilow may have a real shot at making the team. He was all over the field, piling up game-high 11 tackles.
– The run blocking still looks atrocious. Again: There are three more preseason games to get this cleaned up, but it’s certainly concerning at this point.
– Steven Jackson looked like Michael Turner 2.0, but as mentioned above, that was largely due to the terrible run blocking. Hopefully, this doesn’t turn out to be a repeat of last season. On a 3rd and 2, Jackson didn’t have a shot at picking up the first down as Geno Atkins just overpowered Justin Blalock and made the tackle.
– Davis looked awful, and didn’t make a strong case for being the backup quarterback. He did lead a nice touchdown drive in the second half, but he finished 8/19 for 78 yards with one touchdown and an interception.
– Rush defense looked like a repeat of last season as well. Although it was mostly the reserves, the Falcons allowed 230 yards on the ground, including 64 yards to mobile quarterback Josh Johnson. Unsurprising.
– Trufant got absolutely obliterated by the much bigger Jermaine Gresham. The rookie tried to go low on the big tight end and ended up on his back looking up at the lights.
– Special teams allowed a 71-yard punt return touchdown from Dane Sanzenbacher. Inexcusable, quite frankly.
Up next: The Falcons travel to Baltimore to take on the defending champions.