There wasn’t much to celebrate after the Titans drubbed the Falcons 23-3 last Friday, but there wasn’t much to be concerned about either. While this was a glorified scrimmage between the backups, there were still a few points that caught my eye. While it was disappointing not to see Kyle Pitts, I think there’s still plenty of hope — even after an anemic offensive effort from Atlanta. Here are a few notes that I had:
Dean Pees is bringing some creative looks
At the beginning of the game, I was more than excited to watch this Falcons defense. On the first two drives, Atlanta stopped Tennessee on third down by way of a sack — something we weren’t used to seeing. In that same first half, the Falcons held the Titans to 2/8 on third down. Dorian Etheridge played very well in particular, and guys like Jonathan Bullard looked ready to contribute as well. While they weren’t facing the best that the Titans had to offer, I still think it was encouraging to see Dean Pees moving guys around and scheming pressure — something Raheem Morris found success with at the end of the 2020 season.
Offensive line depth is still an issue
I think the Falcons’ first-team offensive line, outside of left guard, will be okay for the most part. However, if injury strikes, this group is going to be in some big-time trouble. Josh Andrews, who could start the opening game, did not inspire a lot of hope. AJ McCarron and Feleipe Franks were running for their lives all game, only completing 7 of 21 passes for 52 yards before accounting for sacks. They were sacked five times. I think it would be wise for the Falcons to bring in Austin Reiter for a workout, but it doesn’t seem on-brand for this regime. If Miami has the same success on Thursday that Tennessee did, perhaps the Falcons will be forced into action to bolster their front five.
Backup quarterback is still a need
I thought that AJ McCarron would be a decent backup in Atlanta, and I like Feleipe Franks’ long-term outlook. However, McCarron was downright dreadful for the Falcons, only completing 5/12 passes for 36 yards (22 yards after sacks). Once again, it’s still the preseason, but it wasn’t pretty. Franks had some nice runs, but he is nowhere near ready to be an NFL passer. I have always subscribed to the theory that the season is over if Matt Ryan goes down with an injury, but without Matt Schaub for the first time in years, it would get very ugly if Ryan was lost for an extended period of time.