Atlanta Falcons lose to New York Jets: Five quick takes


Dan Quinn tasted defeat for the first time as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, but as ever in preseason, it’s the performance from the team that matters most. When the starters were on the field, the Falcons looked dominant. As soon as they left, it was curtains.

There were a lot of positives from the performance, particularly in the first quarter, to draw from for Quinn. The starting units on both sides of the football lived up to the fast and physical approach again. Here are my five takes.

Pass rush ramped up

The defense was excellent in the first quarter and generated plenty of pressure on quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, something we didn’t see enough of last season. The first play that really caught my eye was on a Fitzpatrick screen pass to Bilal Powell. Powell was swarmed by Falcons defenders and tackled for a loss of three.

The energy and explosion from the front seven was reminiscent of the defense Quinn left behind in Seattle. Atlanta continued to pressure Fitzpatrick, forcing him to scramble on third-and-9 which he was unable to pickup.

There was plenty to be excited about. Vic Beasley continued to look strong with his lightning burst off the snap. He was constantly affecting the play and was able to bat down a Fitzpatrick pass on third down. Quinn can be impressed with how the starters looked on defense again.

Electric offense

Matt Ryan was nearly perfect once again, completing 4 of 5 passes for 75 yards and a touchdown. His first pass was to fullback Collin Mooney for 60 yards. On his second series, he connected with Leonard Hankerson for a 2-yard touchdown pass, Hankerson’s first as a Falcon.

The run blocking looked improved also. Mooney made an excellent block on Terron Ward’s 4-yard touchdown run to open the scoring. The jury is still out on the running game, and this will remain the case until the starters are back in action. Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman and Antone Smith were all sidelined with hamstring injuries.

Great night for Mooney

Fullback Mooney stepped up and made some excellent plays. His most notable was the 60-yard reception on the Falcons’ opening drive. Ryan was protected well on a play-action pass, which he would thread through a needle to Mooney. The fullback had plenty of green grass to burst into.

Probably his most important contribution came later on the drive. It was his block that left a wide-open window for Ward to run in for the score. It was an excellent opening series for Mooney.

Reserves blown away

It all seemed to fall apart once the starters came off the field. With the Jets’ first-team offense staying on the field, the Falcons’ second and third-teamers couldn’t handle Brandon Marshall and Chris Ivory. Rookie corner Kevin White was burned by Marshall on a 30-yard gain, before Ivory burst through with a 33-yard touchdown run.

On offense, the Falcons continued to stall. New York raced away to 30 unanswered points before Michael Ford ran in a 1-yard touchdown.

T.J. Yates and Sean Renfree unspectacular

Against the Titans, T.J. Yates struggled as Matt Ryan’s backup and was outperformed by Sean Renfree. In New York, neither quarterback showed much promise. Yates finished 8 of 15 for no touchdowns and an interception. In the second quarter, he was sacked in his own end zone by rookie Leonard Williams for a safety.

Renfree finished 10 of 14 for 94 yards. Neither quarterback looked completely comfortable in the Falcons offense, and this battle is going to continue into the third preseason game. Maybe Rex Grossman will be thrown into the mix.

This game was won by the starters and lost by the reserves. If the Falcons can stay relatively healthy, the outlook is bright. If the bug hits, it gets a little worrying. Stay tuned to Blogging Dirty as we continue to recap this one and look ahead to the Dolphins next week.

What are your thoughts on the game?

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