My Post-Game Quick Hit Thoughts
So that happened.
In the Atlanta Falcons first real (fake?) test of the 2010 season, they were handled by the well-oiled machine in New England, losing 28-10 to the Patriots. Yes, the Falcons were without nine players including three probable starters. And yes, it’s only preseason. But. There’s always a but.
Hit the jump for my over-reactions.
Eric Weems got the start in place of the injured Michael Jenkins and didn’t catch a pass. He was targeted twice but, as I’ve said before, he’s not an NFL receiver. He’s an NFL returner but doesn’t have the ability to become a consistent target for Matt Ryan.
The Falcons played a lot of two tight end sets early on and Justin Peelle was the primary beneficiary catching three passes for 30 yards.
Corey Peters and Kroy Biermann were new starters on the D-line this week. If it wasn’t already decided, it is now: Biermann will be the starter opposite John Abraham and I expect him to finish the year with more sacks than #55. He had another one in this game and forced a fumble (again). Peters had one tackle before leaving with an knee injury. We’ll know more about the extent of it today.
Sean Weatherspoon, who started for Mike Peterson last week, got the start over Stephen Nicholas last night. He had three tackles but got burned for a touchdown when he didn’t locate the ball.
Chevis Jackson started for the injured Brent Grimes and Christoper Owens got the nod in place Dunta Robinson. Jackson had a nice tackle in the backfield.
Tim Buckley and Jamaal Anderson were active but did not play. Buckley will be cut but Anderson sitting out and then watching Biermann dominate again can’t make him feel very safe.
After the Falcons scored an early field goal, they let the Patriots score four consecutive touchdowns. Three of the touchdowns were over 20 yards. The big play, an Achilles heel for the Falcons last year, reared it’s ugly head again.
Michael Turner had a tougher go of it this week but he still ran hard and even caught two passes. That makes three catches in the preseason. Maybe the Falcons really are going to focus on him passing situations.
Antone Smith continues to outplay Dimitri Nance but, unfortunately, it still appears they are playing for the practice squad when Jerious Norwood returns next week. Nance also fumbled this week. That’s the quickest way for a young running back to find the bench.
Matt Ryan is ready to go. He didn’t have great numbers but he’s in control of this team and you can sense his frustration with the younger players in the offense.
Coach Mike Smith let John Parker Wilson play 2.5 quarters and gave Chris Redman the night off, save for a few handoffs at the end of the game. Wilson didn’t give the coaching staff any reason to make him the #2 QB but it’s good for his confidence down the road.
Harry Douglas returned to action and didn’t get hurt. I’ll take it.
Brian Finneran was once again ignored in the offense. I am beginning to think he may be cut after all.
I still haven’t seen the return ability from Dominique Franks. I keep waiting.
The Falcons have apparently given Weems the kick returner job. This is another bad omen for Finneran.
The Patriots converted 65% on third downs. You can’t overcome that.
Matt Bryant was 1-for-2 on field goals again. I would be surprised if the Falcons don’t bring someone in to compete for the job. Bryant is not the answer.
Curious Stat: The Patriots scored on every other possession. Their nine possessions went like this: TD, Punt, TD, End of Half, Punt, TD, Punt, TD, Punt.
Tony Gonzalez will lead the Falcons in receptions this year. Ryan is focused in on him. Gonzalez should top 90 catches.
For the second straight preseason game, Turner had a sequence where he touched the ball four times in a row.
I noted in the pre-game column, I would be looking to see how the Falcons responded after the Patriots made a big play. After Fred Taylor’s 28-yard touchdown run, the Falcons went three-and-out.
The Falcons gave up four plays of 20 yards or more.
I am going to chalk this one up to playing an elite team with several of our starters out. I expect a much more improved performance against the Dolphins. I’m not worried. Yet.
Your thoughts? Let me know in the comments or find me on Twitter.