The Atlanta Falcons take the field at the Georgia Dome for their preseason opener against the Washington Redskins. Yes, it is “just” a preseason game but coming off an 8-8 campaign where the expectations were low, then catapulted into the stratosphere due to a 5-0 start, then sputtering into a .500 record, the fan base and pundits alike want to see just what this team will do in its second year of Head Coach Dan Quinn. Quinn has preached since day one that he wanted the team to be “fast and physical” and reflecting on this past draft that plan Is unfolding amongst our eyes.
Draft picks like Keanu Neal, Deion Jones, and DeVondre’ Campbell have added youth and speed to a defense that was improved in the 2015 season yet still have a way to go in defending the entire field. Tonight particularly, will not give you all the answers that one would seek simply because it is the opening game but here are 3 points of emphasis worth keeping an eye on;
1. Has Tevin Coleman solved the ball security problem? Last year he showed flashes of the greatness showed at his time at Indiana but probably lost a football game due to his inability to hold on to the football.
2. Is it officially time to call Ra’Shede Hageman a bust? After being picked in the 2nd round of the 2014 draft, Hageman has been up and down at best. He has all the physical tools to be dominant but his “heart” is in question as his motor is not always on. Hopefully a move to Defensive End will be the spark that Hageman needs but there is a real possibility that if he is somewhat shaky in the preseason, he may not make this roster.
3. Can the snap get back to Matt Ryan? I do not know how many times I screamed at the TV for all the Falcons’ Centers to actually snap the ball accurately to the quarterback. Like Coleman’s fumbles, I believe that inaccurate snaps cost the Falcons’ games……plural!! The acquisition of Alex Mack from the Cleveland Browns is huge and all fans are curious as to how this much maligned offensive line has improved.
Jamie Walker is a Producer, Analyst, and Blogger for Sports Radio 92.9 The Game. Follow him on Twitter @coachjdub21 or reach him through email at Jamie.Walker@cbsradio.com.