I had to get very creative because Atlanta’s game at Miami wasn’t available on local television at NFC South Blog Headquarters. I’m watching the Saints and Chargers on local television, but I kept up on the Falcons throughout the night.
With a little help from satellite radio, the wonderful work of my buddies Daniel Cox and Jay Adams at the Falcons’ team website, some live stats and play-by-play and a bunch of text messages from a Falcons official who is in the press box in Miami, I was able to get a feel for what the Falcons did. Here are my thoughts and observations:
Cornerback Dunta Robinson didn’t play for the third straight preseason game, even though there was some speculation he might go against Miami. I wouldn’t be too worried about this one. My Atlanta official in the press box said the team is just being cautious with its high-priced free agent. The main goal is to make sure Robinson’s healthy for the start of the regular season.
Speaking of cornerbacks, it sure seems like Christopher Owens has done what he needed to in order to earn the starting job opposite Robinson. Owens stripped a ball away from Brandon Marshall and brought enough pressure on a blitz to allow Kroy Biermann to sack Chad Henne.
Speaking of Biermann, he’s had a sack in each of the first three preseason games. Could be part of what the Falcons need to upgrade their pass rush.
Speaking of the pass rush, it sounded like the Falcons were using lots of blitzes, including a couple by rookie linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. Hope we see a lot more of that in the regular season. The defense looks a lot faster and that’s largely because of Weatherspoon’s arrival.
It’s only the preseason and you never should read too much into that. However, if you’re going to try to read anything into one preseason game, do it for the first half of the third game, when most of the starters play all the way. That’s why Atlanta fans should be encouraged by the following defensive numbers from the first half: The Dolphins converted on only one third down in the first half. The Falcons also held Miami to 10 rushing yards.
Trey Lewis got the start at defensive tackle next to Jonathan Babineaux, but Peria Jerry came into the rotation and got his first playing time since tearing up his knee early in his rookie season. Didn’t sound like Jerry made any big plays, but all indications were he seemed to be moving around quite nicely. He also got to play against his brother, John, who is a rookie offensive guard for the Dolphins.
Eric Weems had a big kickoff return to set up Atlanta’s first-quarter touchdown. This guy’s got a roster spot as a backup receiver. But, more importantly, he’s become a core special-teams player.
Quarterback Matt Ryan started off a little rough and his receivers had a few drops. But Ryan came on and threw a touchdown pass to Roddy White. He also had a nice throw to Harry Douglas, who is coming back from injury, and made some other nice plays. Once again, Ryan looked good in the no-huddle offense. I hope we see a lot more of that this season and I hope we don’t see any more of that ugly 2-yard run Ryan had Friday night.
All right, I’m going to go ahead and post this now that the backups are taking over, so I can focus in on the New Orleans game because I’ll also have an observation package on the Saints later Friday night.