Let’s just cancel the preseason.
I can’t do another year of half the players sitting on IR before week eight. The injury bug began plaguing the Falcons in week one of last year and has not let up entering 2019. Three players that could be susbstantial contributors went down on Thursday Night – Damontae Kazee, Kendall Sheffield, and Russell Gage.
Positively, the Falcons ruled out broken bones for both Kazee and Gage. Kazee injured his ribs but is considered day-to-day. Gage’s situation looked less promising after he was carted off the field, so avoiding any type of fracture is a huge relief for a player who has stood out this offseason. Sheffield suffered a hamstring injury, which the Falcons do not believe will be a long-term issue.
However, outside of the injuries, there wasn’t much to like in what became the Falcons 11th straight preseason loss.
The Offensive Line
The Falcons spent pretty much all of their resources on ensuring Matt Ryan will stay clean in the pocket for more than three seconds. It wasn’t all hands all deck, and teams are not going to break out all of their protections in the preseason, but they did an abysmal job of protecting Matt Ryan.
Now, the Jets are going to have a fantastic defensive line this year, but all that money and draft picks were supposed to give the Falcons a superior offensive line. They looked nothing of the part. Ty Sambrailo was consistently beaten, and let’s be honest; this could be a sign of things to come for a player who overperformed his track record at the end of last year. Hopefully, Kaleb McGary heals up quick and can be ready early in the season. Chris Lindstrom also struggled, which is discouraging, but I’ll give him a pass because he is a rookie. Even the best ones have to experience growing pains.
Are the Falcons going to miss Matt Bryant?
I didn’t like the decision to cut Matt Bryant for Giorgio Tavveccio to save a couple of extra pennies, and now, it’s starting to worry me. He missed two kicks yesterday – both from 50+ yards. The days of sending Matt Bryant out there to kick a 57-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter with a six-point lead are over. Atlanta’s kicking game is officially a question mark going forward, which has not been a concern for the last decade.
Matt Ryan is still Matt Ryan
Despite being treated like a rag doll out there by the Jets defensive line, Ryan turned in a superb performance in the few series he played in. He stood in the face of pressure several times and delivered dime after dime while being mauled by one and sometimes even two Jets defenders. Please get this guys some protection because he is on a level that few have ever been at his position.
Ito Smith looks like the backup running back
Nobody wants to declare Smith the backup to Devonta Freeman just yet, but he looks like the best of the bunch. He’s a smaller back but has no problem running in between the tackles, and yesterday, his pass-catching skills were on display a few times. He caught three balls for 45 yards, including a 28-yarder that led to a field goal. His versatility definitely gives him an edge over Ollison and Hill.