Posted in Gameday Goods

Defense Shines in Falcons Third Pre-Season Game

August 25, 2018

Falcons 6 at Jaguars 17

Inactives for Game 3:  Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, Desmond Trufant, Deion Jones, and Ricardo Allen.  Getting the start in their place, Justin Hardy, Tevin Coleman, Isaiah Oliver, Foyesade Oluokun, and Damontae Kazee.

After the coin toss, the Atlanta Falcons’ offense begins the game, which means that Calvin Ridley is back to receive the kickoff.  Kicked into the end zone and Ridley downed it there.

Starting with a play fake and then a 20-yard pass from Matt Ryan to Mohamed SanuLogan Paulsen is the starting tight end with Brandon Fusco getting the start this game at right guard.  Tevin Coleman has a single yard run, to the right.  Ryan and Paulsen are in the backfield, Coleman goes on a slant to the left side and gained the first down.  Behind a big Ryan Schraeder block, Paulsen makes a catch for 7 yards.  Coleman gains another first down, this time behind the right side (Fusco).  Ito Smith joins the fun.  From the backfield, Smith gains 3 yards.  Then, they give up a 3-yard loss sack.  Tyler Patmon knocks the ball intended for Ridley down, leading to Matt Bryant coming in and easily making a 47 yard field goal.

As the Falcons D hits the field for the first time, they come out READY.  Jacksonville’s drive begins with Blake Bortles scrambling for a 4-yard gain, then a handoff to Leonard Fournette for another 4 yards, where he is quickly met by Terrell McClain and Brooks Reed.  On 3rd and 2, Bortles’ short pass is tipped by Robert Alford and picked by Keanu Neal.  Suddenly, the Falcons have the ball back and at the Jacksonville 42.

Then…..the Falcons go 3 and out.  Again.  Incomplete to Reggie Davis, a Coleman 1-yard run, then a sack on Ryan.  Matt Bosher on to punt 39 yards to the Jaguars 7-yard line.

Kazee starts the Jags possession with back to back tackles, followed by a Brooks Reed stop of Fournette, then an Oluokun stop of TJ Yeldon.  Kazee is back at it and blasts Dede Westbrook for a 2nd down stop.  Bortles passes to Fournette who gets by Duke Riley for the first down, with Brian Poole closing quickly.  The elusive Fournette spins past Jack Crawford and gains 4 yards.  Kazee deflects the next big pass down the field.  Kazee almost intercepts the next Bortles pass, while Grady Jarrett is grinding him into the ground.  Now the Jags are forced to kick and miss a field goal.

The Falcons get the ball on downs at the 37, but immediately go 3 and out and are forced to punt.  The 54-yard punt falls at the 5 and JUSTIN BETHEL downs it on the 2.

The Jaguars begin at their own 2.  Deadrin Senat, anticipating the snap jumps offsides to move the ball up to the 7.  The running back heads up the middle, but Senat and De’Vondre Campbell quickly meet him for an immediate stop.  Isaiah Oliver makes the next stop after a big reception, clearly a mix up on coverage as Oluokun or Campbell should have been on that side to slow down that reception.  From the 18, Bortles throws another pass that is deflected, this time by Oliver.  Meanwhile, Poole was called offsides and negated the play.  Donte Moncrief gets a 37-yard reception, with Oliver spinning and trailing the entire way, finally being pushed out by Alford.  Two plays later, Fournette gets in for the 21-yard touchdown behind good blocking and missed tackles by Neal and Campbell.

Another unreturnable kick.  Wes Schweitzer comes in at center in place of Alex Mack – who is not injured.  Andy Levitre and Jake Matthews are on the left side, with Fusco and Ryan Schraeder to the right.  Ryan had 4 receivers on the field, but could not find anyone open and runs out of bounds for a “sack.”  Russell Gage is in, but Ryan throws to Austin Hooper who cannot hold onto the ball and suddenly it is 3rd and 11.  In the gun, Ryan overthrows Coleman.  The o-line did not hold up well on this series, the 3rd 3 and out in a row.

Bosher on for the 52 yard, unreturnable punt.  Campbell, playing inside linebacker now, was fooled by the play fake, but did make the push out of bounds after a big gain.

Fournette gets by Riley again, for another 3rd down conversion.  Oluokun stayed in his gap and stopped Fournette for minimal gain.  Bortles steps up for a big pass but is met and sacked by Crawford with Brooks Reed coming.  Grady Jarrett, being jealous, grabs his Clemson buddy Vic Beasley, Jr and heads to the backfield.  Beasley is shoving one lineman back blocking Bortles’ path, while Grady is being held up by a lineman, causing Bortles to trip and immediately Grady is on top of him.

The Jags are forced to punt to Hardy.  Ryan finds Sanu (against mouthy Jalen Ramsey) for a nice and quick 16-yard game.  Sanu is in motion with a play fake to Coleman, but Ryan overthrows the ball.  The next pass, to Ridley is dropped.  On 3rd and 10 to Hooper, Barry Church is charged with the pass interference penalty and moves the Falcons to the 48.  Coleman gets the call for a few yards, then….behind Matthews and Levitre (left side), escapes down the field for a big 21-yard run down to the 24-yard line.  Smith pushes the ball down 5 yards, inside the red zone.  A short pass to Hooper, then at the 15-yard line, it is 3rd and 1, and a pass to Sanu at the back of the end zone is knocked out and Bryant is back on for another successful field goal.

Bosher handles the kickoff where Manual Smith makes the stop at the 25, where the Jags will begin their next drive.  Kazee and Riley meet to make the tackle on Keelan ColeCorey Grant on the screen play is knocked out by Campbell after a 28-yard gain.  Defense was caught blitzing.  In confusion, Takk McKinley was off the field trying to get on in time, so, alertly, Grady shoves Crawford in to DT and Grady plays DE for a play.  The Jags gain 6 yards, stopped by Keke.   Takk is clearly back on the field and makes the next tackle, then nearly makes another.  Oliver and Kazee combine for a stop forcing a 3rd down and timeout by Jacksonville.  After a Campbell pass break up, it’s 4th down and the Jags settle for another field goal.  Teams head in to the half with Jacksonville leading 10 – 6.

As the second half begins, Bortles comes back out with most of the first team, starting at the 16.  The Falcons have completely reset.  Senat is still in, but Anthony Winbush, Casey Jones, Justin Zimmer, Jonathan Celestian and Kemal Ishmael, Blidi-Reh Wilson and Justin Bethel are all in now.  TJ Yeldon gets the first two plays and is stopped by Celestin then Ish for minimal gains.  Bortles has a 9-yard pass to Moncrief that is covered by Blidi Wreh, then runs up the middle himself and CB Bethel comes up to make the stop.  Senat makes a good read forcing 3rd down.  The Falcons are in man-to-man and as Bethel gets tripped up covering his man, gets Moncrief out of bounds at the 17.  The next play, Bortles throws down to the 2-yard line, where he finds Blidi Wreh.  And, the defense heads off the field in lieu of the 2nd team Falcons offense.

Matt Schaub comes out to lead the offense, including Justin Crawford with the first carry of the 2nd half, for a loss of 1 yard.  Offensive line updates to Jamil Douglas, Ty Sambrailo, Matt Gono, Sean Harlow, and Wes Schweitzer.  Schaub has a short pass to Gage, then a short pass to Eric Saubert that turned into a 44-yard gain.  A play fake to Crawford, throws up to Ridley for a 12-yard game.  Gono has a false start.  Another run by Crawford, for another lost yard.  Schaub in the shotgun is hit as he throws, Gage almost reeled it in, but could not.  It’s 3rd and 15, due to offsetting penalties on a defender and Gage (again) for movement.  Schaub lets one go, Ridley cannot handle the pass, it bounces off of his foot and is intercepted and returned 27 yards before Gage makes the stop.  The play is reviewed and reversed determining the pass was incomplete.  Bosher on to punt 20 yards to the Jacksonville 17.

Cody Kessler comes in replacing Bortles at quarterback and immediately throws a 33-yard pass to midfield.  Ryan Neal makes the next 2 tackles, forcing Grant out of bounds, then tackling Rashad Greene for short gain.  Cooper and Celestin made the next few stops for 12 and 4 yard gains.  Then Zimmer has a big 7-yard sack at the Falcons 49, then is in the backfield again.  Unfortunately, Kessler is able to get a short pass away to Wilds who goes for 31 yards to the Falcons 8, then another to Grant down to the Falcons 4.  R. Neal makes the stop at the 2, while Celestin makes the stop at the 1.  These two are making the Jags work for this score.  On the next play, Kessler fumbles the hand-off, sees and recovers it, then scrambles into the end zone.

Ito Smith brings the kickoff out to the 31-yard line, with no bobbling the ball like last week.  Crawford gets the first run, for 5 yards.  Then newly acquired RB, Justin Fowler takes the ball another 3 yards.  Schaub throws incomplete to Byrd, forcing another Bosher punt.  This one for 49 yards, covered by Reggie Davis for a 1 yard loss on the return.

Jacksonville has a quick 3 and out with the new defense stepping up.  The 53-yard punt is muffed by Oliver, who loses the ball, but is recovered by Crawford and the Falcons will begin at their 31.

Malik Williams has the first 3 carries, for 9, 2, then 1-yard gains, trying each side, left, right, then up the middle.  Kurt Benkurt in at quarterback passes up to Christian Blake for a 9-yard gain, then is sacked for an 11-yard loss.  From the shotgun, Benkert hits Crawford for 4 yards, then hits his favorite target, Devin Gray for a 15-yard gain.  On 4th and 2, the Falcons go for it, but the pass goes off the hands of Dontez Byrd and falls incomplete and they turn it over on downs.

The Jaguars begin at their own 40-yard line.  Grant goes for 4 yards and meets Neal.  A quick pass for no gain, then a sack by Richard Jarvis for a 9-yard loss.  And another punt and chance for Oliver, who catches the ball cleanly and returns the punt 6 yards.

Benkert opens it up quickly as he goes deep to Byrd for 41 yards.  Crawford carries it for 8 yards, then 7 yards.  After 2 incomplete passes, Benkert finds Gage for 12 yards to the Jacksonville 8-yard line.  Another 2 incomplete passes by Benkert, but Jacksonville is called for roughing the passer and the Falcons have a 1st and goal at the 4.  Four incomplete passes and the Falcons turn the ball over on downs.  Gray caught the pass in the end zone, but could not get both feet down.  Crawford had the ball go through his hands.

Time winds down and the Falcons are 0-3 in the pre-season, remember last season, they were 0-4 and a play away from the SuperBowl.

Some guys are definitely making the play for starter spots.  Kazee is continuing to play incredibly well and shows himself as extremely versatile.  If Kazee could be brought in, Keanu Neal can be moved up to play more inside and really cause a raucous on offenses.  Blidi Wreh continues to impress defensively as well and made a definite jump from last season.  Oluokun is playing well and looks to be on that 53.

Fusco looks to be the winner at the right guard spot playing well against a very good Jacksonville defense.  Ricky Ortiz has likely won the fullback spot.

Oliver is struggling in man-to-man, but doing well in zone coverage.  Of course, Grady was very disruptive and Campbell stopped a touchdown.  Overall defense, causing turn overs was good, but gave up allot of yards as well.  They still need more pass rushing to be dominant this season.  There were signs of fatigue (again – as seen in previous seasons) late in the 2nd quarter.

Levitre allowed a sack, the left side O-line was weak and allowed too much pressure on Ryan.  Coleman looked good as expected, especially running left when Matthews and Levitre did pair up for good blocking.

Special teams is much improved from last year, the obvious addition of Bethel, but some of the young guys trying to make the team too, Gage and Paulson especially.

Again, no one injured – so there is that.  And the Jaguars are a very good team and therefore a good test.  They did not sit anyone, while the Falcons did have several key players on offense and defense that did not play at all.  Also note that Jacksonville played their starting offense later than the Falcons played their first team defense.



@FalconAlley Owt


Photo Credit:  Atlanta Falcons

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