Stop me if you have heard this before, but the third preseason game in the NFL is considered the “dress rehearsal” for the upcoming season.
While you’ll forgive my wariness to the idea that a preseason game matters to the level that a dress rehearsal would, the Falcons certainly didn’t pass the eye test during their 27-16 loss to the Titans on Saturday night. The first-team played through the first half and even took a series (or two, depending on the player) into the second half, but Matt Ryan and company only managed 6 points offensively while on the field.
The aforementioned Ryan was just “fine” during the game, going 11 for 19 through the air for 138 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Unfortunately, he was sacked five times thanks to shoddy play from the 1st-team offensive line, and the offense sputtered inside the red zone without the benefit of Roddy White as a primary target.
On the positive side for the offense, Steven Jackson had a bit of bounce to his step in this one. He carried the rock 12 times for 51 yards, and there were certainly spurts where he turned on his trademark power game in turning a broken play into a positive gain. Elsewhere, stud receiver Julio Jones generated 4 catches for 81 yards, and while he had at least 1 drop during the game, he reminded everyone of his explosiveness. Lastly, it was fantastic to see Tony Gonzalez on the game field, and he grabbed two catches during the game.
Defensively, the Falcons didn’t play poorly while the starters were out there. Tennessee put up 13 second-quarter points, but that was aided by some fantastic field position, and for the most part, it was a respectable effort. At the same time, however, none of the fears about that side of the ball were alleviated while watching Chris Johnson run for 5.9 yards per carry, as well as seeing Jake Locker go 11 for 13 through the air.
The whole impact of the third preseason game is likely overblown, but at the same time, we saw a lot of the starters on Saturday night in a disappointing loss. Any fears about the offense are premature based on this game, but the unproven unit on the offensive line has done nothing to show that it will be anything more than mediocre when the “real” season opens. Stay tuned for the fourth and final preseason tilt, as the Falcons welcome the Jacksonville Jaguars to town on Thursday night (August 29th) at 7:30 pm.3