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Rewind: Falcons have to put bad game behind them


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Not I'm trying to add to the avalanche of cynicism on the board, but this article illustrates some valid points.

Rewind: Falcons have to put bad game behind them

By D. Orlando Ledbetter

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

For the second consecutive exhibition game, the Falcons built a lead only to have the reserves kick it away again as Jacksonville prevailed 15-13 on Friday night at EverBank Field. The defeat was disturbing because of the poor pass blocking, missed tackles and abhorrent third-down play on defense. The Falcons dropped to 0-2. “I don’t care what anybody says about preseason, you still want to win the game,” tight end Tony Gonzalez said.

What we learned

1. HDTV is broadcasting live. Wide Receiver Harry Douglas has fully recovered from his knee surgery and appears set to cause nickel backs league-wide some sleepless nights. He broke loose for a 76-yard touchdown (the Falcons' only explosive play in the game) after he faked out Jacksonville defensive back Drew Coleman. Rookie Julio Jones showed off his blocking ability to clear Douglas’ path to the end zone. “He’s a big part of what we do offensively,” quarterback Matt Ryan said of Douglas.

2. Franks didn't wrapup the nickel back spot. Dominique Franks held up in his first extensive action. He started at right cornerback and moved inside to play the nickel back in passing situations. He was solid, but didn't dominate. The nickel needs to play with ruggedness in the contact zone. He should be able to easily clean up his missed tackles, which is a byproduct of the infrequent work on tackling in training camp. He finished with six tackles, one for loss, and a quarterback hurry and a special-teams tackle. Franks had a chance to earn the nickel back spot, but he left Christopher Owens in the mix.

3. The defense gave Smith the third-down blues. Despite having several favorable situations, the defense had trouble getting off the field. Falcons coach Mike Smith was downright irate with the unit after the game. “We were not good on third down,” Smith said. “I think we had them for five third-and-nine-pluses that they converted. When you have them in third-and-nine-plus, the advantage goes to the defense. That is definitely something we have to address.”

Injury report

Defensive end John Abraham and defensive tackle Peria Jerry left the game in the first half and had their knees checked by the training staff, but both returned to the action. Defensive end Lawrence Sidbury suffered an ankle sprain, but walked fine after the game.

The numbers game


The Falcons might be sold on their sixth-round draft pick Matt Bosher, but backup punter Ken Parrish has shown that he can punt in the NFL. He boomed two punts against the Jaguars for a gross and net average of 44.5 yards.


Harry Douglas has five catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns in two exhibition games.

Sound bite

“I haven’t gotten involved with it. I’m just here with Atlanta trying to get better. I really can’t speak on it because I really don’t know anything. I haven’t focused on that at all.”

--Falcons linebacker Spencer Adkins on the Miami scandal and whether any of his former teammates were implicated.

Loose ends

Rookie running back Jacquizz Rodgers, the fifth-round pick, led the Falcons in rushing with 39 yards on seven carries. He had an 11-yard gain and impressed Smith with his elusiveness when he faked out a defender in the backfield. ... Defensive end Ray Edwards, the team’s talented free-agent signee, did not play against the Jaguars. He is recovering from knee surgery. Smith was noncommittal when asked if Edwards would definitely play against the Steelers. ... In addition to Edwards, wide receiver Kevin Cone, quarterback Adam Froman, wide receiver Doug Beaumont, cornerback Kamaal McIlwain, running back Philip Sylvester, safety Rafael Priest, linebacker Akeem Dent, tight end A.J. Simmons, linebacker Robert James and center Todd McClure did not play. ... Cornerback Brent Grimes has had an interception in both exhibition games.

What’s next

Atlanta (0-2) plays Pittsburgh (1-1) at 8 p.m. Saturday at Heinz Field. The Steelers defeated the Eagles 24-14 on Thursday.


Another thing that I've noticed that we still have problems with is shoulder tackling without wrapping up and getting the guy down.

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I don't think anybody's really worried at this point. I, for one, could care less that the Falcons are 0-2 in the pre-season. Big deal. But, this is the time to be evaluating the preparedness of the first team units going into the season, and to voice concerns is legitimately appropriate. Concerns in the preseason don't necessarily equate to being worried.

There are certainly things that are going right with the team at this point, too, which the article points out. Douglas looks to be healthy and effective, Grimes looks fantastic, and while the starters on both sides of the ball have looked out of sync, it seems like something that time and preparation will get together in time for the opener.

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