Davis Needs Dominant Performance To Back Up Matty Ice
With the signing of its star quarterback to a blockbuster contract extension last month, Atlanta is glad to have Matt Ryan back for a few more seasons. The franchise quarterback is expected to lead the Falcons to the promised land soon, especially since he has even more weapons to rely on than he has had in the past with the running talents of Steven Jackson and an explosive group of receivers.
But what if Ryan succumbs to injury at some point during the season? Who will step up and take the reins of one of the NFL's most dangerous offenses? Fans do not want to see a repeat of the 2007 season, in which the backup QBs faltered in Michael Vick’s absence.
Sadly, I do not know who is ready to take that challenge at this point of the preseason. None of the three backups on the roster have ever played in a regular season game before and none of them boast more than two years experience playing professional football. It appears that incumbent second-string QB Dominique Davis is vying for the backup spot this year, but with up and down performances in his preseason action so far, do not count on him being a strong backup just yet. Davis ended up with a 49.9 quarterback rating in the exhibition opener against the Bengals, but was able to bounce back last week with a rating of 107.5 while going 8-for-10 for 98 yards. If Davis wants to lock down the backup job, he has to have two more strong outings like his second performance against the Ravens.
Next up on the depth chart are QBs Sean Renfree and Seth Doege. Both are rookies and do not have a guaranteed shot of making the final cut. Even if one of the two does make the team, that person still will not see the field right away. I expect both Renfree and Doege to come away from this preseason as two or three year works in progress.
The Falcons have limited options of brining in a proven free agent to be Ryan’s backup in 2013. In case Davis lays an egg in the final two weeks, Atlanta can choose among veteran QBs Charlie Batch, Matt Leinart and Byron Leftwich. Leinart (who is fast becoming a bust) has not done much in the league to this point while Leftwich is very fragile and injury-prone. That leaves Batch, who proved to be effective when Ben Roethlisberger was hurt on a few occasions with the Steelers. Plus, he has two Super Bowl rings, has experience as a starting quarterback and has plenty of postseason exposure. However, I do not know if Batch can take another season of getting knocked around or even if he can get ready for the season in such short notice. Also take into account that he is nearly 40 years old - that makes it much tougher to recover from big hits that he could potentially take.
Therefore, let’s hope that either Davis convinces the coaching staff that he can come in to save the day if need be or that the fledgling offensive line steps up and provides better protection for Ryan all season long.