Falcons Dominated from Start to Finish by Texans
They didn’t gameplan. They didn’t play their first string very long. The team didn’t take it serious. They don’t like preseason, as Roddy White said. They want to avoid injuries. Enough with the excuses!!! There is never any excuse to get completely dominated in every facet of the game from start to finish the way the Falcons did on Saturday night. It shouldn’t matter when, where, or what type of game you play, if you’re a team that really has aspirations of going the distance, then you should never get embarrassed like that. Every team loses games, but losing isn’t the same as getting demolished.
Fans will either chalk this one up to preseason or they will use this is a prime example that something’s awry in Flowery Branch. The optimistic fans took a major hit, the realistic fans became more morose, and the pessimistic fans are headed to the roof. The Falcons better come out guns blazing next week, because if they are anywhere near last night’s performance, Arthur Blank will likely be looking at a lot of empty seats this season. To the horror show that was………..
Is Smith’s Seat Getting Warm?
No, because it was a preseason game after all (albeit a really, really terrible one). If the season doesn’t go the way the Falcons and their fans want, stamping the reason for the failure likely won’t start with a preseason blowout. After all, the Texans were embarrassed just last week and came back with a roar vs. our Falcons and eased their own fans fears. There’s a slight difference though: the Texans have a brand new coach, Smith is in year 7.
His seat isn’t getting warm yet, but the last thing that Smith needed was to give a display like that and bring with it all the bad memories of the 2014 trainwreck that was. In fact, an interesting little tidbit: of the teams with the 10 worst records, Mike Smith was only 1 of 4 coaches that survived. And of those 4, he was the only one that wasn’t a rookie head coach. That tells you all you need to know right there. If this lingers into the regular season, than his seat will get blazing hot.
Defense is a Joke
How else to say it? There’s really not. The Falcons can’t generate any pass rush. They have issues tackling. They look lost in coverage and their communication is still bad in game 2. What was supposed to be a supposed strength in nickel back, looks to be a huge weakness right now. They’ve been torched by two quarterbacks, Ryan Tannehill and Ryan Fitzpatrick, while good, certainly aren’t elite. Despite a few bright spots here and there (Worrilow, Massaquoi, Trufant, and Alford), this defense seems to be getting worse by the snap. At this point, it almost has a feel of being a lost cause. Perhaps Smith and Nolan should just start running the prevent defense on every play, knowing they will score but at least making the opponent take more time doing so.
Do Not Sit Freeman and A. Smith
The Falcons are in good hands at running back, and that includes Steven Jackson remaining on the sidelines, except for specialty situations. Jackson could still contribute, but fans are just waiting for Mike Smith to pull the plug on this promising and extremely talented duo in favor of an RB that is past his prime. Classic Smitty. And with all due respect to Jacquizz Rodgers, Freeman and Smith should get the vast majority of the carries. Both are versatile, quick, and fast. Freeman does a better job of pass blocking, but Antone Smith is too fast and talented to not give touches to throughout the game. Maybe the duo will force Smith’s hand and push it over the edge of critical mass. But even that might not keep them in the starting lineup.
The Matthews Era Begins at Left Tackle
Best wishes to Sam Baker and no one wants to see one of their players get hurt, regardless of how they’ve played in the past. But Falcons fans knew this was likely coming all too well. The fact that Baker has been so injury prone in his career was the biggest argument for drafting Jake Matthews (or best available OT) in the draft. It was a win-win, either they get a stud at right tackle in the best case scenario or they get a future franchise left tackle. That day has come much sooner than anyone had hoped. To be sure, there will be some growing pains and there will be uncertainty at right tackle, but they should be in decent shape going forward. Ryan Schraeder and Lamar Holmes will battle it out for the RT spot, but they already got baptized by fire last year. Even before the injury, Baker was having a bad night, getting beat like a drum by rookie Jadeveon Clowney.
Hageman and Shembo Should Start, Reedy Up the Chart
Jake Matthews appears to be the only rookie currently starting, but that should change. Ra’shede Hageman and Prince Shembo have shown that they are the best option at their respective positions. Both rookies have done extremely well in the limited chances they’ve had. It’s true that their success has come against 2nd and 3rd team units, but they deserve the chance to show their stuff with the starters. Bernard Reedy seems to be moving into a spot on the depth chart, but he should also get looks with the first team. If OC Dirk Koetter truly wants a 4 wide receiver offense, than Reedy would fit perfectly with Julio, Roddy, and HD. Even over Devin Hester.
Tight End, Free Safety are Major Holes
Fans have seen this coming for awhile, but it’s sadly coming to fruition. The Falcons did a pretty good job addressing many needs on the team via free agency and the draft, but two positions they did a poor job of was free safety and tight end. Dwight Lowery got his first action at free safety, but he looked hesitant and that’s understandable with someone who’s had a bunch of concussions. Dezmen Southward and Kemal Ishmael have shown a few bright spots, but they are not NFL ready at this juncture. At tight end, Levine Toilolo is a ghost. He caught two passes for 19 yards in the opener, but didn’t catch one vs. the Texans. Perhaps he’ll get it going, but right now it doesn’t look very promising. Mickey Schuler and Jacob Peterson have had a few moments in the pass game, but overall, this isn’t a very strong unit. Dimitroff should be scouring the waiver wire for help after the cuts come down.
Renfree Surpassing Yates
Yates continues to underwhelm in his pursuit for the backup job behind Matt Ryan. After the Falcons traded Akeem Dent to the Texans for Yates, it seemed an almost lock that Yates would be the number 2, but Sean Renfree has played superior to Yates thus far. His stat reads as follows: 11 for 23, 2 INTs, 0 TDs, and a 42.4 QB rating. Renfree went 7 for 10 last night with a touchdown and looks the better option at this point. He appears in the lead right now.
TJ Yates – 4 for 12, 63 yards, 2 INTs
Matt Ryan – 3 for 7, 37 yards
Sean Renfree – 7 for 10, 49 yards, 1 TD
Devontae Freeman – 6 carries, 31 yards
Antone Smith – 8 carries, 27 yards
Josh Vaughn – 5 carries, 18 yards
Jacquizz Rodgers – 3 carries, 13 yards
Julian Jones – 1 rec, 29 yards
Julio Jones – 2 rec, 20 yards
Mickey Shuler – 2 rec, 19 yards
Jacob Peterson – 1 rec, 19 yards
Roddy White – 1 rec, 17 yards
Devin Hester – 2 rec, 15 yards, 1 TD
William Moore – 6 tackles
Paul Worrilow – 8 total tackles
Kemal Ishmael – 3 total tackles, 1 INT
A really terrible game to watch if you’re thinking of drafting any Falcons. Matt Ryan had a short and bad night, where the offensive line only looks marginally better and his timing was off with Julio Jones. Speaking of Jones, he’s too talented to pass up, but it may take some time for him to get in his groove. Roddy White looked like his old self in game 1, but only managed one catch in game 2. While Devin Hester got some looks on offense, he isn’t worth drafting for his rapidly diminishing return skills. Devontae Freeman and Antone Smith look very promising, but the concern is that Coach Smith won’t continue to give them carries and starts. William Moore and Paul Worrilow may be good options for IDP leagues, but that’s about it.