The Atlanta Falcons currently sit at 0-3 this pre-season, and although this useless record means absolutely nothing going into the upcoming regular season, there are a few issues that are developing from the three matchups that have been played so far; namely, that quarterback Dominique Davis has looked a bit shaky during his time on the field.
Davis, in his second season with the Falcons after playing his college ball at East Carolina, has put up pretty good numbers for Atlanta this pre-season, as he currently sits with a 55.2% completion percentage (16-for-29) with 176 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception through three games. Along with his ability to pass, Davis also brings an ability to run to the team, shown by his big forty-three yard run in Saturday night’s loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Although Davis has done fairly well this pre-season, there are still moments in which his vulnerability is revealed and displayed, such as his interception in the Titans’ loss in which he showed his inexperience by trying to connect with a Falcons’ receiver who was double-covered, leading to an extremely easy pick by the defense. While it is foolish to freak out following one minor mistake in a meaningless exhibition, plays of that type lead to some discussion about the man who seems to have a stranglehold on the backup spot behind Matt Ryan.
Any quarterback as young as Dominique Davis is bound to have growing pains in the National Football League, but with that being said, is Davis really considered Atlanta’s “best option” if Ryan was to miss time with an injury? There would obviously be some dropoff from Matty Ice to whoever sits at second string, but it seems that there is a significant number of people who think the Falcons may have other viable options in the event that another signal caller is needed to Rise Up in Ryan’s place. Let’s take a look at Atlanta’s realistic options at second string for 2013:
Option #1: Leave Dominique Davis in. Definitely the most likely situation, Davis definitely has the backup spot to lose through three games. Still a greenhorn in the NFL, Davis has shown plenty of potential in his two years with the team (his first year success led to John Parker Wilson’s exit), but his ability to play in a game that matters remains to be seen and will stay that way until he actually does so, a situation that could be likened to baptism by fire. In his two seasons of pre-season with the Falcons, Davis has thrown for 578 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions and a completion percentage of 57.1%. Davis has yet to throw a pass in a regular season game (to be fair, Ryan was the only Falcons’ QB to throw a pass in 2012).
Option #2: Bring in a Veteran. The Falcons went this route last season when they brought in Luke McCown, who is now backing up Drew Brees in New Orleans, and it is conceivable that the team elects to go this route again. However, if the team does intend to do so, they will have to move quick, as several top free agent QB’s—Matt Leinart and Vince Young, for example—are signing with teams. The market for a solid backup quarterback is admittedly limited, but some of the players that could be on Atlanta’s radar include 49ers’ QB Colt McCoy (the 49ers are reportedly looking to deal the former Texas star), longtime Steelers backup Charlie Batch, and former Packers QB Graham Harrell.
Option #3: Promote Sean Renfree to Second String. The former Blue Devils’ signal caller under legendary QB tutor David Cutcliffe, Renfree has completed ten passes on twenty attempts with no touchdowns and no interceptions this pre-season. Holding on firmly to the third spot with Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege’s release on Sunday, Renfree needs an absolutely outstanding game on Thursday against the Jacksonville Jaguars to have any shot at unseating Davis at #2.
Predicted Outcome: Unless the Falcons wind up sending someone a late-round backup for a proven veteran, Dominique Davis will be the backup to Matt Ryan due to A) the franchise’s belief in Davis’ ability as well as B) the scarcity of a true upgrade over him.
With Davis set to play second fiddle to Ryan, Falcons’ fans will undoubtedly be on edge every time their starter hits the turf, but in retrospect is there really a fanbase that won’t have the exact same reaction? Call me a liar, but I don’t believe a single Broncos fan will ever utter the words “Peyton’s out? Don’t sweat it, we’ve got Brock Osweiler!”