The Atlanta Falcons continued their quest to turn around a disappointing 2013 campaign with a competitive training camp from Flowery Branch. After getting acclimated to the new “Toughness Mandate” from Falcons Owner Arthur Blank, the introduction of HBO Hard Knocks, and a series of fights, injuries, and signings, the team seems to be embracing the challenge of proving the naysayers wrong. There have been some significant injuries, most notably Rookie Linebacker Marquis Spruill, 5th Round Draft Pick out of Syracuse, took away some depth from this defensive squad.
The Atlanta Falcons hosted their 1st Preseason Game on this past Friday against the Miami Dolphins. The feel of this game was a little more intense because of the 4-12 record last year and the many changes that the Falcons made. No one was for certain as to what this team would look like or play like, both in personnel and in scheme. The Atlanta Falcons won the contest by the score of 16-10, which was positive but looking deeper, there was some good and bad.
The projected starters that dressed for the game primarily played one series. The Miami Offense led by Quarterback Ryan Tannehill drove quickly on the Falcons Defense. They ran an up tempo system with features of the zone read because of Tannehill’s scrambling ability, leaving Falcon Defenders out of position and making tackles downfield. Also, Tannehill had plenty of time to survey the field and throw the ball and did so very effectively. This was significant because one of the concerns still is where will the pass rush come from for the Falcons.
The Falcon Offense also took the ball and scored on its 1st possession. Quarterback Matt Ryan was 7 of 7 on the drive for 53 yards and orchestrated the scoring drive as Jacquizz Rodgers hit pay dirt from two yards out to return the favor for the Falcons. Rodgers displayed some tough running during the drive and Wide Receiver Roddy White looked great in his route running and catching of the football. White found open areas in the Dolphin Defense and considering Wide Receiver Julio Jones was held out of this game, you can see the potential in the offense once he returns.
There were also some pleasant surprises in the game. Cornerback Javier Arenas looks like a factor in the fight for the 3rd Corner spot. He defended several passes and matched up well with Dolphin receivers and right now is outplaying incumbent Robert McClain. The Running Back
play was significant during the game. Besides Jacquizz Rodgers, Antoine Smith and Davonta Freeman rushed the football well. Smith with a gaudy 29.6 yard per carry average last season looked poised to do it again even if it was only five carries. Freeman, the Rookie out of Florida State is looked to be a benefactor of the Steven Jackson injury and he had flashes of greatness during the game. Overall, some problems do exist for the Atlanta Falcons but monitoring the improvements from Preseason Game One to Game Two is paramount to understand the growth and bounce back ability of this squad.
Jamie Walker is a Producer and Blogger for Sports Radio 92.9 The Game Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @coachjdub21 or email at Jamie.Walker@cbsradio.com.