The Atlanta Falcons head to Nashville this Friday to take on the Tennessee Titans in their third matchup of this preseason. As we get closer and closer to the regular season these matchups are getting increasingly important as now the starters will play well into the third quarter. Here are some things to lookout for as the Falcons try to shape up to regular season form.
The Falcons offense is by far going to be one of the best in the league this season with veteran QB Matt Ryan throwing to some of the best wide receivers in the league as well as one of the absolute best tight ends in Tony Gonzalez. Gonzalez has been absent for a majority of training camp due to previous commitments before coming out of temporary retirement so be sure to evaluate the veteran’s ability to fit in with this year’s offense.
As we have been saying all preseason the greatest question on offense comes from the offensive line as they are the ones in charge of providing the new running back, Steven Jackson, with enough room to do what he does best. The injury to right tackle Mike Johnson has proved to be extremely disappointing as what was supposed to be a competition for the starting spot between him and Lamar Holmes has resulted in the handing of the job to Holmes whether or not he deserves it. Keep a special eye out on Holmes’ performance tonight to see if he has what it takes to deserve that starting position.
The defense is the area that the organization was extremely worrisome of this offseason after the defensive collapse in both playoff games last season. Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is incredible at creating a great pass rush and secondary without the star power that some organizations boast. However, the secondary is extremely young which has been apparent in both preseason games. Similarly, offseason pickup Osi Umenyiora was brought in to help with the lacking team of pass rushers; however, he needs to step up his performance from last year if he wants to make any sort of impact this season.
Finally, one of the most interesting stories of the offseason seems to be coming to a close as Brian Banks’ chances at making the 53-man roster seem to be slipping through his fingertips. The exonerated linebacker saw twelve snaps in the first preseason game against the Bengals but only saw three last week versus the Ravens. While Banks’ performance has not been bad, it has yet to be good enough for the NFL. Head Coach Mike Smith has told the media that these next two games will see a lot of snaps for Banks as he continues to fight for a spot on the final roster.
The Tennessee Titans have a strong running game something that the Falcons have yet to see this preseason so it will be interesting to see how they perform against a speedy running back in Chris Johnson. Kickoff starts at 8:00pm but make sure to check back here later for a complete recap and analysis of the game.