ATLANTA, GA- In their third preseason game, the Atlanta Falcons lost to the Tennessee Titans 27-16. Considering the score when both teams’ starters left the field was 20-6 in favor of the Titans, fans may be experiencing some doubt with their confidence in the Falcons.
The Falcons are now 0-3 in the preseason but it’s just preseason. However, the first half of Saturday’s game against the Titans was inexcusable. With two trips to the red zone the Falcons were only able to produce two field goals.
First Team Concerns
Matt Ryan completed 11 of 19 passes for 138 yards and no touchdowns. The pass protection of the offensive line seemed to break down as the Titans recorded five sacks of Ryan. Of course the coach’s game plan in the preseason is to not show too much, just don’t be surprised if fans seem reluctant to rise up.
The usually reliable Harry Douglass failed to reel in a catch in the end zone, while Roddy White remained inactive for the night.
Cornerback Asante Samuel had to leave the game in the first half of play with an apparent thigh injury. According to multiple media outlets, Samuel’s return to the field was questionable but he never returned. This was most likely a precaution now that the season opener is only a few weeks away.
Filling in for the injured veteran was rookie corner Robert Alford. Alford struggled to keep up with the first team’s offense of the Titans as he was burned on a long completion to Michael Preston, and allowed his first touchdown to Nate Washington. Alford seemed to find his bearings once the second team came onto the field. The defense also allowed Chris Johnson to rush for 65 yards on just 11 carries, yielding him an average of 5.9 yards per carry.
The Silver Lining
While there was much to be concerned about during the performance of the team on Saturday there were some good points to take from the game. First off, running back Steven Jackson had 12 rushing attempts for 51 yards, averaging a decent 4.2 yards per carry. He looked solid on most carries and his longest went for 13 yards. Jackson would also receive three passes for 15 yards. Tony Gonzalez looked healthy and he seems to have kept his promise to stay in shape while he was with his family for most of the offseason. He caught both passes that were thrown his way for a total of 21 yards.
Julio Jones had a great outing, receiving only four passes for a whopping 81 yards. His longest came on a 42-yard strike from Ryan that brought them very close to the red zone. Considering White wasn’t on the field to terrorize the other half of the secondary, Jones proved capable of being the number one wideout if Roddy were to go down in the regular season.
Kroy Biermann had an excellent individual defensive performance as he recorded five solo tackles, two of those being sacks, along with two assisted tackles. Rookie Joplo Bartu, recruited from Texas State, looked good during a tackle he made on Jake Locker that resulted in a forced fumble which was recovered by the Falcons. Bartu also recorded three solo tackles and one assist for the night.
What to Look Forward to
The rookies were baptized in fire during the game against the Titans as Locker took advantage of Robert Alford particularly. Since Head Coach Mike Smith is known for playing his starters very sparingly in the final preseason games I expect to see a continuation of these young corners’ playing time. Rookie wide receiver Darius Johnson could be a potential fourth option for the Falcons after Saturday’s performance. He made a good catch and better run for a 41-yard touchdown reception thrown by Dominique Davis.
If Brian Banks survives this Tuesday’s roster cuts then the last preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on August 29 will be his last chance to prove he’s ready for the NFL. Banks spent the last 11 years out of football and served five years in prison after he was falsely accused of rape.
What will you be looking forward to in the final preseason game leading up to the season opener against the Saints?