The Atlanta Falcons played their first preseason game on Friday night against the Miami Dolphins and won. That alone might be a cause for celebration and instill the belief that this year’s Falcon team is different from its predecessors.
That’s probably a stretch given the fickle and irrelevant nature of the preseason. The reasons why teams win preseason games are usually because some third-string player that is probably not going to make the team makes a big play or a mistake in the fourth quarter that decides the outcome. In the case of the Falcons-Dolphins game, the outcome of the game could be reduced to the tackle by Falcons safety Sean Baker that saved a touchdown, and the botched snap by Dolphins quarterback Seth Lobato. Two players with NFL careers that may just be footnotes in team media guides. Two instances that don’t quite apply to how the Falcons 2014 regular season is going to shape up. I’m certainly not expecting Baker to make a touchdown-saving tackle on a screen to Brandin Cooks Week 1.
Nonetheless, there are reasons to be positive if you so choose, and there are also reasons to be negative based off the Falcons first preseason action.
Some of the positives are that the Falcons’ play in the trenches was fairly strong. Working against the Falcons starting defensive line on the first two series, the Dolphins were successful on just two of seven (28.6 percent) running plays. That’s a sign that the added beef up front for the Falcons has improved. On the opposite side of the ball, the Falcons themselves were successful on four of their eleven (36.4 percent) runs with the starting offensive line. Not great by any means, but certainly competent.