Recap: Atlanta Falcons Preseason Game 1

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Recap: Atlanta Falcons Preseason Game 1
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The first preseason game is in the books with the Atlanta Falcons besting the Kansas City Chiefs, 20-10, at the Georgia Dome last night. Although there were plenty of positives for the Falcons in the first game of the season, some inconsistent play and uncharacteristic penalties seemed to stall the team at times.

The Falcon first team offense played fairly well when it was on the field, and the defense had some bright spots against a overmatched Chiefs team.

The no-huddle attack was out in full form. Is this the coaching staff just working out the plays or a sign of things to come in the regular season?

Michael Turner is in Week 6 form, displaying superior vision and hitting holes with purpose and power. Preseason game or not, Falcon fans have to be pleased to see him running with such fervor and finishing with power.

Click here for the season preview on Michael Turner.

Matt Ryan played commendably but didn't have much time to operate in the pocket as the Chiefs did succeed in bringing pressure from the outside.

Two Montana Grizzlies had some bright moments as Biermann continued to display a tenacity for rushing the passer and rookie Shann Schillinger took a interception back 29 yards.

The big story of the game, however, has to be the play of Jamal Anderson, often targeted by experts, fans, and critics for his play. We've all heard the rumors and reports of Anderson doing well in training camp, but Falcon fans had heard this before with little to no results during the season.

If this first preseason game is any indication, the Falcon pass rush seems to be in good hands, further validating the front office's stance this past offseason.

A breakdown of players and positions below.

 

The Good: The Falcon Defense

Jamal Anderson was close many times and played well along the line wherever he was, either at the end or inside. He continued to show stout ability in the run support and showed bursts off the line rushing the passer. Great showing by him and hopefully he can continue to build on his play. The Falcons pass rush needs all the help they can get.

Kroy Biermann's performance was terrific, spanking Ryan O'Callaghan and stripping Cassel for a John Abraham recovery. His added bulk did not seem to slow him down as his high motor style of play continued to play a huge role in the game.

 

Secondary Play

Up and down the Falcon roster, players in the secondary were playing lights out. Flying to the ball, intercepting, breaking up passes, and playing with desire filled out the night for the Falcons.

Even with Dunta not playing, our corners and safeties set the tone all night by punishing the ball carrier repeatedly. Christopher Owens continues to impress the more I watch him, Decoud looks ready to take the next step, and some promising play by Schillinger and Jackson late provided more positives.

Sidbury had a terrific play in the second period where he launched right off the ball and bulled his way past the guard the fullback and tackled Jamal Charles for a loss. Great hustle and effort by the kid.

Midway through the second period, our rookies entered the game for the offensive line. Hawley and Reynolds were both solid in providing a pocket for both Redman and Wilson, but the push on running plays dropped off significantly.

Dimitri Nance from Arizona State was a pleasant surprise, running with determination and decent vision as he scored two touchdowns.

 

The Bad

Sam Baker

Baker either seemed to be hurt or not focused as he had a sloppy game against the Chiefs. He struggled against Tamba Hali quite a bit and struggled when Hali went wide. The false start penalty in the first period was an indication of Baker struggling against Hali's speed rush.

The second drive of the game featured a Baker false start, followed right up by a Hali speed rush that collapsed the pocket on his side. Baker needs to step it up.

The 3-4 seemed to give the Falcons trouble last year, and both Clabo and Baker seem to struggle when forced to move laterally against quicker linebackers rushing on the edge. Last night was no different as Baker had a poor showing against Hali.

The Falcons did not fare as well when trying to bounce runs to the outside.

Clabo and Baker struggled with the speedier linebackers rushing to the outside, lateral movement was not in Baker's vocabulary last night at all.

Weatherspoon did not have a good showing, outside of some theatrics in the first quarter. He might be better served by toning down the bluster a little and focusing at the task at hand.

He would whiff on running back Moore in the flat early in the second period, and was slow to react to the pass the following play. Looks to be playing with his head too much and overthinking instead of reacting.

Spoon will work these kinks out with the coaching staff.

Inconsistencies

The first team offense outside of the running game seemed to shoot itself in the foot at every turn. Being the first preseason game, there are wrinkles to iron out of course.

The first drive itself shows a perfect example of the problems that need addressing and no doubt are already being reviewed by the coaching staff:

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The first play of the game was a power run to the right side of the Falcon line as Turner toted the rock up the middle for a gain of eight

*Turner displays excellent vision and cuts back to the left side behind Blalock for a gain of nine for a first down and then some.

*Vrabel then just flat out embarrasses Clabo, forcing Ryan to check down to Turner for a gain of six.

*Turner takes the ball and follows Mughelli behind Dahl for another gain of nine. Turner running with power and authority and the O-line carving out some impressive holes against the front seven for the Chiefs.

*Snelling plunges ahead for two, missing a huge gaping hole along the right side of the line.

*Snelling takes another handoff and hits the hole hard again on the right side, the O-line continues to muscle the Chiefs around on straight power running plays.

*Snelling takes a stretch play to the left and manages to eek out a solid four yards on a play that looked to be strung out by the Chiefs' linebackers.

*Roddy White whiffs on a block on Vrabel on a 3rd-and-2 from the 11-yard line, tackling Snelling on the sweep and ends the drive with a Matt Bryant 30-yard field goal.

Domination by the Falcon running attack and offensive line sprinkled with a few bad plays of miscommunication and mistakes. While the mistakes and bad plays can be attributed to the first-game jitters, the offensive line chemistry and rushing attack early was a terrific building block moving forward.


The Falcon defense, who continued to have starters in there long into the second period, had a very solid showing against admittedly a weaker opponent. It is the preseason, so not much can really be gleaned from a stripped-down playbook, and the coaches making substitutions on the fly.

What we can learn from the first preseason game is that while the Falcons do have a lot of work to do, there are some very nice performances that fans look to. Naysayers may just point to the fact that it is the preseason, but this was a great performance for the youngsters on this team.

It is easy for anyone to say that the talent level of this team has risen, as well as the depth. It is now up to the team to put in the work and effort to continue building and gelling as a unit

The defensive line with Peters, Jerry, and Babineaux had very solid performances and Biermann, Sidbury, and Anderson showed what they could do. All this in front of a secondary that was playing with a lot of passion. Will they be able to put it all together during the regular season?

I have good reason to believe so, and if you are a Falcon fan, you should too.

Click here for my Falcon defensive unit preview, in which the details are outlined for a top 10 defense in the making this year.

Next up? the New England Patriots

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