Turbulent Winds Lead To Up And Down Preseason
Finally, the preseason is over. While I do not put a ton of stock into preseason games, I do believe that there are characteristics of a football team that are occasionally revealed during the preseason. For the 2013 Atlanta Falcons, there was a lot of good and bad going into the regular season.
RB Steven Jackson is a noticeable upgrade over Michael Turner. Jackson has the burst to reach the outside from time to time and while his ability to catch the football out of the backfield was not featured in the preseason, it should be an important part of the offense in 2013. Fellow runner Jacquizz Rodgers provides another option with burst when Jackson needs a break.
The Falcons offense can move up and down the field at will if unhindered by the opponent’s pass rush. When the first-team offense was on the field during the preseason, their weapons were consistently on display as they quickly moved into scoring position. Zones were of no use with the accuracy of Ryan’s passes.
Talented wideout Julio Jones has reached a level where he is capable of dominating a game. That was on display against the Baltimore Ravens in the first half. Jones’ speed and size should land him among the elite receivers in the NFL this season.
The Falcons offensive line has the chance to be okay, or awful. Most likely, it will be somewhere in between as three new starters assume their positions. Matt Ryan has been very good at avoiding sacks in recent years despite being hit regularly, so look for Ryan to continue to have to get rid of the ball early.
Physical teams will perplex the Falcons. This is no longer the Falcons of 2008-2010, as this is now a finesse ball club. Seattle and San Francisco demonstrated in the playoffs that the Falcons can be worn down over the course of a game with physicality. That will be the blueprint as Carolina and Tampa Bay have moved toward more physical styles.
This defense will give up points, mostly because it can’t sack the quarterback. If you combine young corners with a lack of pressure, that tends to not work out well. Look for the Falcons to have to outscore their opponents constantly with their offense.