NFL Nation: Joplu Bartu
August, 24, 2013
By Pat Yasinskas | ESPN.com
The Atlanta Falcons frequently get talked about as a Super Bowl team. They didn’t look anything like that Saturday night.
The first-team offense couldn’t finish drives and the first-team defense had more than its share of breakdowns in a 27-16 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Atlanta fell to 0-3 for the preseason. The record doesn’t mean much, but the way the Falcons lost is a cause for concern. At least in the first two preseason games, there were plenty of bright spots. In this one, there weren’t many.
The Falcons trailed 20-6 by the time the starters were all out of the game and things didn’t get much better when the reserves came in. This wasn’t the kind of showing you would expect from a good team in its third preseason game.
Practice isn’t going to be a lot of fun for the Falcons when they return to practice next week because they have a lot of things to clean up.
Some other quick observations on the Falcons:
- Rookie linebacker Joplo Bartu continues to be a bright spot. He forced a fumble in the first quarter that helped set up a field goal.
- Fullback Bradie Ewing, who has missed some time with an injury, got the start and it’s pretty obvious he’s going to be a force as the lead blocker for Steven Jackson.
- The concerns about the starting offensive line aren’t going to go away. Quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked five times.
- Cornerback Asante Samuel left the game early with a bruised thigh and was replaced by rookie Robert Alford. The Titans went after Alford a bunch. Alford took some lumps, but also came up with an interception.
- Tight end Tony Gonzalez, who missed most of camp, made his preseason debut and produced two early catches.
- One of the few highlights after the starters left came when backup quarterback Dominique Davis hit Darius Johnson with a 41-yard touchdown pass.