3 big winners, 3 big losers from Falcons loss to Jets

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The Falcons Monday night preseason game against the Jets was essentially two different games. Atlanta led 16-0 at one point before surrendering 24 straight points to New York. The first half was fantastic for the good guys, and the second half was the exact opposite, which gives the perfect opportunity for a winners and losers exercise from the Falcons loss to the Jets.

Winners: Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder

I couldn’t choose just one; both signal callers were excellent in their respective series. Mariota led Atlanta to scores on two of his three drives, going 6-of-10 for 132 yards and a touchdown. Ridder was equally impressive, going 10-of-13 for 143 yards on three drives, two of which ended in field goals that were spoiled by penalties.

It’s certainly Mariota’s starting job because he’s done nothing to relinquish it, but Ridder is doing the absolute most to take over as the Falcons starting quarterback. The future looks bright with Ridder under center.

Loser: Jalen Mayfield

Mayfield has not had the best start to his career. After being forced into action as a rookie, it’s been nothing but rough outings for the former Michigan Wolverine. The Falcons elected to start Elijah Wilkinson for both preseason matchups thus far, but even with the second team offense against backups, Mayfield hasn’t been encouraging.

Contrary to popular belief, Mayfield was actually decent in limited action in the Falcons preseason opener against the Lions, but he still looked just alright against a lousy team’s backups. Vying for a starting position, Mayfield needs to be dominating reserve players. Instead, he looked average. That’s not going to be good enough.

It was even worse against the Jets last night. Mayfield again ran with the second-team offense and had several miscues in pass protection, along with penalties in the red zone, which kept the Falcons from scoring touchdowns. There really isn’t much he’s done to inspire confidence that he can one day become a viable starting option in Atlanta.

Winner: Jared Bernhardt

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’m a big fan of Jared Bernhardt.

And what’s not to love? He’s consistently shown up for the Falcons. He recorded three receptions for 67 yards in the team’s loss to the Jets but also hauled in the go-ahead touchdown the week prior against the Lions. Bernhardt is making plays with Ridder under center, which bodes well for his future in Atlanta. At the very least, the Falcons must keep a guy like that on the practice squad.

Loser: Frank Darby

Honestly, it’s not even Darby’s fault he’s in this category. With the third-team offense, the Falcons showed no ability to move the ball or even complete a pass. Darby hasn’t had an impact as Bernhardt had against the Jets the entire time he’s been in Atlanta. His infectious personality will only carry him so far after not recording a single reception on two targets Monday.

Winner: Dee Alford

Again, another personal favorite of mine, who I believe will make the final 53-man roster. Isaiah Oliver is still probably the starting nickel corner this season, but Alford continues to make plays. He recorded an interception against the Lions, and last night, Alford had impressive open field tackles and pass breakups. His stock is rising as fast as Bernhardt’s, in my opinion.

Loser: Feleipe Franks

Franks actually had a few inspiring moments against the Jets, but not at quarterback. At this point, he’s not an NFL signal caller. And he’s not to blame; for a vast majority of the offseason, Franks has been a tight end, and he’s shown an ability to excel in that area. He’s rarely taken snaps at quarterback, and it’s unfair to paint him as a loser, but he’s a tight end.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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