Saturday, August 27, 2011
Observations on the Atlanta Falcons
By Pat Yasinskas
There’s a perception that Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan doesn’t have a very strong arm.
If you saw Saturday night’s 34-16 preseason loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers, you now know that’s a total myth. In the second quarter, Ryan threw one of the prettiest deep passes you’ll ever see. With the ball at his own 48-yard line, Ryan took a deep drop and heaved a perfect pass a few yards into the end zone.
Julio Jones, who was brought into bring explosive plays and allow Ryan to showcase his arm, slightly beat his man and dove for a pass that couldn’t have been put in a better location.
One slight problem -- Jones dropped the pass. But, hey, it’s a preseason game and the fact he dropped it doesn’t really matter. What’s important is Ryan -- who completed 22 of 42 passes for 220 yards with one touchdown and one interception while playing only the first half -- showed himself, his teammates, his coaches and his critics that he’s got a big enough arm to do some deep damage.
The Falcons have made it pretty clear they’re going to throw down field more often this season. Now, they should have the confidence to do it frequently and maybe Jones will hold onto the ball.
Some other observations on the Falcons:
- The Atlanta defense made Pittsburgh receiver Antonio Brown look like an All-Pro. He caught two touchdown passes, including a long one where safety Thomas DeCoud completely mistimed a leap to try to intercept the ball.
- It might be cliché to say a guy is in midseason form. But it’s accurate when you talk about Atlanta receiver Roddy White. How many receivers have 100-yard games in the preseason, unless one of the catches is for 60 or 70 yards? While playing only the first half, White had eight catches for 101 yards and his longest play went for 22 yards.
- I can’t help but wonder what Atlanta’s defensive line is going to look like after rosters get cut down to 53 players. Defensive ends Ray Edwards, John Abraham and Kroy Biermann are probably locks to make the team. So are defensive tackles Jonathan Babineaux, Corey Peters and Peria Jerry. Vance Walker, who had a sack Saturday night, is probably battling Trey Lewis for the final spot. Or the Falcons could carry five defensive tackles. But things get interesting at defensive end after the first three. The Falcons like young ends Lawrence Sidbury and Cliff Matthews. They also have veteran Chauncey Davis. But the interesting thing is Davis has a $3.75 million salary-cap figure. That’s way too high a number for a fourth defensive end. I’m guessing the Falcons go with Sidbury or Matthews because they can free up $3 million in cap space for this year by releasing Davis.