Devin Hester set a new NFL record with his 20th return touchdown and Matt Ryan broke the Falcons franchise record for completion percentage with 87.5 en route to a 56-14 dismantling of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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.
ESPN’s NFC South Blog recently published an article highlighting the can’t-lose players for the teams in the division. As expected, quarterbacks are excluded from the discussion.
According to the author, Matt Williamson, the Atlanta Falcons’ can’t-lose player is Steven Jackson.
I can definitely see the reasoning for selecting Steven Jackson; the Falcons’ struggles to run the ball last season are well-documented. Michael Turner’s decline was sharp and sudden. As Williamson points out, Jackson is an upgrade over Turner in every regard; he still has tread left, and he’s perfectly capable of catching the ball – something Turner couldn’t do. The addition of Jackson provides the Atlanta offense with another dimension, and makes the passing game much deadlier.
However, with that said, the Falcons still boasted one of the league’s best offenses thanks to their dynamic passing attack.
Jackson is a solid choice, and while I understand the selection, it’s not a choice I particularly agree with. Instead, I have to look to the other side of the ball and select Osi Umenyiora.
Last season, the Falcons had 29 sacks as a team – that total was good for 28th in the league. With John Abraham gone, the Falcons are looking to Umenyiora to fill his shoes.
If Umenyiora were to get injured, the Falcons would have no semblance of a pass rush unless Kroy Biermann, Cliff Matthews, Jonathan Massaquoi, and rookies Malliciah Goodman and Stansly Maponga can all step up in a huge way.
The Falcons have signed defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi. The Falcons’ 2012 draft class is now under contract.
Massaquoi was selected in the fifth round (164th overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft. He played his collegiate career at Troy.
The Falcons have signed offensive tackle Lamar Holmes. He was the Falcons’ third-round pick from Southern Mississippi in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Five of the six rookies from the 2012 rookie class been signed; only fifth-round pick defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi remains unsigned.
Konz, formerly of Wisconsin, was selected in the second round (55th overall). Ewing, also from Wisconson, was drafted to replace recently released Ovie Mughelli. Ewing was selected in the fifth round (157th overall). Mitchell was the Falcons’ sixth round draft pick (192nd overall). He played college football at Mississippi State. Lastly, Robertson was the Falcons’ final pick in the seventh round (249th overall). Last season, Robertson was a defensive tackle for South Carolina.
Tackle Lamar Holmes of Southern Mississippi and defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi of Troy remain unsigned.
The members of the 2012 Atlanta Falcons rookie class have selected their jersey numbers:
G/C Peter Konz: 66
OT Lamar Holmes: 76
FB Bradie Ewing: 36
DE Jonathan Massaquoi: 96
S Charles Mitchell: 26
DT Travian Robertson: 92
Also of note: running back Jacquizz Rodgers has selected his new number after tweeting he’ll give #22 to Asante Samuel. Rodgers will now wear #32.
The Falcons selected fullback Bradie Ewing out of Wisconsin with their 157th overall pick. Ewing is listed at 5-foot-11, 235 pounds.
Ewing is a fullback in the truest sense of the word; he won’t get many carries, but he provides the power blocking that head coach Mike Smith loves. He’ll probably take over for current stud fullback Ovie Mughelli after the 2012 season ends. Hopefully, Mughelli isn’t made expendable for this season.
With the 164th overall pick, the Falcons chose defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi from Troy. The 6-foot-2, 264 pound Massaquoi will serve as depth for the Falcons’ pass rush. He isn’t a threat to take over for John Abraham or Ray Edwards, but he may garner a few snaps as a reserve.
Charles Mitchell, a 5-foot-11, 202 pound safety from Mississippi State, was the Falcons’ 192nd overall selection. After former backup safety James Sanders left Atlanta to sign with the Arizona Cardinals, the Falcons needed a backup strong safety to William Moore. Barring an unforeseen circumstance, Mitchell will fill that backup role.
With their final pick (249th overall), the Falcons drafted defensive tackle Travian Robertson from South Carolina. Robertson is listed at 6-foot-4, 302 pounds. If Robertson is active on gamedays, he’ll provide backup for starters Jonathan Babineaux and Corey Peters.