As usual, I’ll go position-by-position to give my thoughts on which players I thought stood out, and which did not.
What I Saw: T.J. Yates and Sean Renfree alternated the first series. My assumption is that the coaching staff planned to start Yates, but also wanted to give Renfree a look with the starting offensive line. And likely based off which of the two had a better opening series, would determine who would get the remainder of the first-half snaps. Yates looked slightly better on his opening series and proceeded to remain in the game, and looked better thereafter. His touchdown toss to Freddie Martino was a solid pass with a clean pocket. He also looked competent running the two-minute drill at the end of the first half, with most of the problems being because the Falcons pass protection kept breaking down, leading him to have to check it down quite a bit. Yates looked comfortable and decisive for the most part in this game, something he hadn’t appeared like since the preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins. The biggest black mark was when he took a sack in second quarter when he didn’t pull the trigger quick enough when Jake Matthews missed on a cut block. Renfree was fine, but the reality may have been the Falcons were looking for any excuse to keep the veteran Yates over him. I think the team found it with their respective performances.
Conclusion: Yates will likely win the backup job. The deck was stacked in his favor from the get-go with the Falcons trading up for him. He got outplayed by Renfree for a bit this summer, but Renfree never played to a level where he truly ran away with the job. Renfree just never played poorly; giving a consistent, competent effort each week. That just wasn’t enough to truly win the job, although I suspect Renfree will definitely get a shot on the practice squad if he clears waivers.