The Atlanta Falcons walked away from Thursday night’s matchup with another loss, dropping their preseason record to 0-2. That record does not accurately portray what really went on against the Bengals, though.
Matt Ryan and his receivers looked to be in midseason form as the fifth-year quarterback finished 18 of 21 for 174 yards and a touchdown in nearly two quarters of play. A lot of analysts predicted a breakout year for Ryan before the season, and it looks like they can feel comfortable about that notion at this point.
Defensively the Falcons kept the Bengals starters in check for the most part, aside from one huge bomb to A.J. Green. Five different players recorded tackles for losses, and Mike Nolan continued to throw a variety of packages at his opponent.
What did we learn this time around?
- This should be the big year for Ryan. The fifth season is typically when quarterbacks hit their stride, so we could be in store for No. 2 breaking personal records left and right. It’s clear the Falcons intend to throw the ball much more than we’ve seen in previous season, and Ryan is up for the challenge.
- Jacquizz Rodgers continues to look impressive. He’s making the cuts when he needs to and finding room to run, which is more than anyone can say for Michael Turner. Atlanta’s workhorse for the past few years hasn’t done much to excite anyone over the first two games. While you always have to take preseason with a grain of salt, it would be nice to see a little more out of No. 33.
- Asante Samuel can play with the best, and can also get burned just as easily. He knocked one jump ball down against A.J. Green, but later on was completely torched when Green put a double move on him, resulting in a 50-yard touchdown. To be fair, most corners would have struggled covering him in this situation. Samuel wants to be where the ball is, though, so he can’t keep blowing coverage like this.
- Special teams continues to be a strong point. Matt Bosher pinned four balls inside the Bengals 20-yard line, and Matt Bryant was 2 for 2 on field goals. Both can be automatic in 2012.
- Peria Jerry put in another nice performance. He clearly wants to make an impact this season. Jerry had the only sack of the night for the Falcons, and even though he was penalized for roughing the passer, the strong effort is there.
- The fifth wide receiver spot is still anyone’s game. None of the backup receivers have done anything to separate themselves. There were multiple drops at the end of the fourth quarter. James Rodgers couldn’t hold on to two passes from Dominique Davis, really hurting his cause for making a spot now.
- Speaking of Davis, the fourth-string quarterback is getting everyone’s attention. I’ve been talking about throughout the preseason, and will very surprised if he misses out on a roster spot.
Next week the Falcons hit the road to take on the Miami Dolphins. With two games remaining in preseason, the depth chart battles will be more heated from here on out.