The Falcons got their first two preseason warm ups against arguably the two worst teams in football last year, and the fact that they barely got by in both contest might unsettle fans as well as make pundits very critical.
They definitely do not look perfect in my eyes, but there have been many impressive plays and stand out performances.
Here are the noteworthy story lines after Preseason Week Two.
Matt Ryan Looks Impressive
Ryan has gone 12-15 for 114 yards and a touchdown without an interception so far this preseason. I cannot get over how sharp he makes the offense look, though I have to give credit to the offensive blue print itself- it's a simple system that works.
But Ryan looks like he has been doing this for years, and in my eyes looks to be on track for an even greater year (rather than a sophomore slump). Tony Gonzalez definitely helps as well. He appears to have really opened up this offense.
Shockley's Future In Major Jeopardy
I read an article on the Atlanta Journal Constitution a few days ago that quoted Shockley saying he "can in fact start" in the NFL. All power to him, and I love the attitude, but I honestly doubt that will ever happen. Furthermore, I feel his tenure in Atlanta might be coming to an end.
His less than crisp release has always stuck out like a sore thumb to me, and he seems to continue to have accuracy problems, however one play from Saturday's game alarmed me.
The Rams were showing blitz from the weak side with two players, and Atlanta had just one tight end on that side. There was also no back in the backfield. Shockley looked right at the oncoming players before the snap, looked back and called for the ball without checking the protection.
Both players flew into the backfield, but what was more embarrassing was the fact that Shockley looked down field as if he had no idea they were coming. It was a back-yard-football scenario that got the best of him on that play. To say the least that type of mishap at this level is just intolerable.
John Parker Wilson is riding on Shockley's heals, and could easily run away with the third quarterback position. And, even though Shockley feels he is battling for at least the number two job, he is on an uphill climb to even be considered for a roster spot.
Offensive Line is Dominating
Michael Turner has rushed 13 times for 128 yards and a pair of touchdowns in just over a half's worth of action. Falcon quarterbacks have been sacked just twice in two games. The offensive line is huge, and seems to be manhandling everyone in their way.
Chris Owens and Brent Grimes battling...and nobody is winning
...and that is not a bad thing. Brent Grimes and rookie corner Chris Owens have both made some tremendous plays this preseason. Owens covers very well, but most importantly was noticeably aggressive in run support. I like a physical corner who tries to get to the ball every play-Owens is that type of player. However, Grimes continues the show he put on last preseason with his incredible leaping ability and quickness.
Wanted: Punt Returner
Atlanta's special teams became a major weapon last year with the emergence of Harry Douglas' return game. With Harry out for the rest of the year, it is back to the drawing board for the Falcons. Eric Weems, Brent Grimes, and youngster Chandler Williams are all fighting for the job, but none have really impressed so far. We are still waiting to see someone really blossom back there, but as long as it isn't Adam Jennings I think we will be okay.
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