The Atlanta Falcons dropped another preseason game, in their third contest of the summer against the Tennessee Titans. But despite a game that ultimately goes down as a loss, there were many positives the Falcons, particularly their starters can take from the game.
As I’ve done for the previous two preseason games, I’ve got a thorough breakdown of what I saw from Falcons players in the game, and it’s broken down by position group.
What I Saw: The only real negative that can be said of Matt Ryan’s performance was that he was a bit too long on each of his three deep shots. It reminded me of what Ryan did prior to 2012 on his deep passes, preferring to throw long rather than risk an interception. That conservative style was a major contributing factor in why the Falcons rarely hit on deep passes. Instead, he needs to loft it up, so that his receivers can better make a play on the ball in the air since Ryan should instead trust Julio Jones (his target on all three deep shots) to go up and make a play. Other than that, Ryan looked sharp and looked excellent in the no-huddle at the end of the first half. T.J. Yates entered the game after him in the third quarter and struggled on his three possessions. Yates seemed to struggle with pressure in his face and had bouts where his lack of ideal accuracy and anticipation led to incompletions and/or sacks. Sean Renfree came in later and working on just one series where he was in the two-minute drill, looked fairly sharp. He hit on several passes, although his pass to Julian Jones in the endzone on the final play was a bit off the mark. But he fared better when trying to handle pressure and made some decisive throws and decisions. No reps for Jeff Mathews.
Conclusion: Falcons were able to generate some big plays in this game on busted coverages and broken tackles, but would have preferred to see them hit those when they dialed up the big plays. Ryan’s deep touch seemed to have regressed a bit if judging against the last two seasons, but there’s no reason to panic. Renfree clearly outplayed Yates on his lone series, and it was the first time I thought that Renfree was deserving of real praise this summer. In previous outings, he may have been better than Yates but that had more to do with Yates’ struggles than Renfree doing anything particularly well. There will likely be one more game with each Renfree and Yates getting a half’s worth of play vs. the Jaguars next week. Their performances in that game will be the final deciding factor in the battle for No. 2 quarterback, although Renfree is decidedly in the lead right now. I doubt Mathews makes it past the first round of cuts.