August 26, 2017
Arizona 24 at Atlanta 14
Apparently our strategy this year is to not show ANYTHING on offense until the season begins. This game was rough. Julio Jones and Taylor Gabriel made their preseason debut, however neither had a catch in their limited playing time. Both looked excellent in warm ups, so no concern there, but the rest of the O, under Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub did NOT look like our typical offense.
So, let’s talk about the defense. This was a start studded event tonight. The defense caused 5 fumbles and recovered 3 of those. Everyone looked good, the veterans, the rookies, a fierce “see ball, get ball” D for sure.
Atlanta gave Arizona the ball to start. On their third offensive play, Adrian Clayborn punched the ball out and an offensive lineman recovered. Thanks to Ricardo Allen’s pass break ups, two plays later, Arizona had to punt. That, was also not pretty. Andre Roberts dropped the ball, but luckily Terron Ward had his eye on the ball to recover. Or not, since the Falcons came out and with one offensive play, Matt Ryan’s first play, first pass, was aimed at Levine Toilolo, but was tipped and intercepted.
Again, turn to the positive, the Atlanta D stepped up and with the Cardinals closing in on the end zone, Allen had another pass break up in the end zone, then Keanu Neal caused the 2nd fumble of the game which was recovered by Duke Riley. All of that was still early in the first quarter.
Defensive highlights include the Jack & Takk Show. Takk McKinley and Jack Crawford have buddied up to disrupt play. Takk knocked a ball out early, but the play was called dead, which Dan Quinn challenged, to no avail. Next play, Takk’s pressure on QB Drew Stanton forced him in to the waiting arms of Crawford, which forced a long field goal. Later in the game, Crawford caused a running back fumble, which Takk recovered after running over the blockers like they were not even there. Takk is going to be incredible this season.
As always, Grady Jarrett and Vic Beasley, Jr. were applying great pressure to the quarterback, forcing rushed and errant throws. Deion Jones had 4 tackles in the first quarter alone, while Neal continued his tough hitting style for which he is known. Courtney Upshaw caused the other fumble that Arizona recovered, and late in the 3rd quarter Jalen Collins caused a fumble which CJ Goodwin was able to recover for the Falcons.
While the defense did give up 24 points, these points were against guys that are likely not going to be on the team this time next week. Not solely based on this game, but a number of guys are not helping themselves.
The offensive highlight is now suddenly Matt Sims. On Matt Schaub’s first play of the game, he had a fumble that Arizona recovered and lead to their 2nd touchdown – on a short field. Sims threw the only touchdown for the Falcons and led them to the successful 2-point conversion.
While special teams still looked questionable, not the key Matt’s of course, Matt Bryant making his field goals, and except for one short kick, Matt Bosher was his typical kicking self. At least no big returns were allowed this week.
Wes Schweitzer did get the start at right guard, however Ben Garland and he split the time evenly and remains “too close to call” per DQ.
Couple of injuries of note. LaRoy Reynolds who started all 3 preseason games at middle linebacker went out early with a shoulder injury. Brian Hill, after looking better with the first team than in the first 2 preseason games went out with an ankle.
While I was frustrated and yelled allot, I am not concerned about our offense once the games are for real. And if this defense cannot get you excited, no need to show up at The Benz this year. Remember, this is just preseason, a test for players and time for others to get into some rhythm.
Feature Photo Courtesy of Atlanta Falcons