The Atlanta Falcons are currently preseason-perfect at 2-0. Preseason greatness has very rarely equated to playoff realization. Last season, those Dirty Birds started the season at 6-1, but finished 8-8. The math simply states they won only 2 out of remaining 9 games.
-Last week, Miami Dolphins Receivers Coach Shawn Jefferson, over age 40, suited up to practice contact/line drills with the receiving corps. I wonder if anyone from the defensive side of our camp took a page from his book.
-The Falcons' 2016 defensive drafts of safety Keanu Neal, and linebackers De'Vondre Campbell & Deion Jones show cracks in their rookie armor. Neal has been labeled a strong box/zone safety with "enforcer" tendencies and suspect man-to-man coverage and tackling. Playing his side on a man-to-man call is a 50-50 gamble. Jones will probably play middle/TE/RB short yard plays, "QB-spying," or last line of defense before WR/gimmick breakaways. Campbell is a project pick advertised "with great reflexes." Beating Campbell off the snap may prove a challenge to our very exposed O-line in situational plays (1st-down conversions, 4th-down gambles or goal-line standoffs.) Just playing devil's advocate there;
-Per Pro Football Focus (PFF), the Falcons' O-line started the season ranked 5th, our Dolphins-19th. Good news for defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, Suh & Co: It's not #1. Maybe this contest is a little more palatable for our defense. The football gods gave us no favor in a sink-or-swim scenario last week.This week, our starters and back-ups slightly redeem last week's poor showing; -Next Man (or QB) Up: Backup QB Matt Moore's status, post-concussion protocol, hasn't been announced yet regarding his availability vs. the Falcons. That said, behind Tannehill and an offensive line with something to prove, depth QBs Brandon Doughty and Zac Dysert have functional outings.
RBs Isaiah Pead & Arian Foster combine for aprx. 150 yards on the ground. Gase writes in more plays to test the Falcons' defensive middle game. For this week, WR Kenny Stills leads our receiving unit again, but with more substantial contribution from everybody else. Anything over zero catches is a plus, keeping the Falcons' defense honest and on their toes; -"19th-ranked" became a bad mantra for me. In several categories on both sides of the ball, we were, at best, 19th. People barely remember silver or bronze medalists, let alone who lost last year's Super Bowl.
Here's hoping some form of redemption happens this week where, at least, we become the measuring stick, moving up to 16th in something. That should be a realistic goal for now. One of our few better showings, amidst all these screens, charts and graphs, was our secondary, which was 18th-ranked going into preseason.