Rookie LBs Make Good First Impression:
Throughout training camp coaches have raved about the speed and athleticism of rookie linebackers De’Vondre Campbell and Deion Jones. Everyone knew that these young men could run, but they both had limited experience in college and the transition from NCAA to NFL cannot be done based solely on the fact that you ran a great 40 time at the combine. Thursday night was the first chance to see these guys in action, and they did not disappoint. Although Worrilow and Weatherspoon started the game at linebacker, Campbell and Jones seemed to get the main bulk of snaps and were in the game before the end of the first quarter. During a second quarter Redskins possession Campbell recorded three solo tackles, two of which were in the open field. Deion Jones is going to be an undersized linebacker this season, that’s just the way it is. But if he can consistently play with the same speed he showed us on Thursday that may not matter. The burst Jones displayed not only makes him a legitimate option in third down pass coverage, it also makes him a threat as a pass rusher. There were certainly times when both young men found themselves out of position, but they each ran and tackled well enough to make me think that the good far outweighed the bad.
Mixed Reviews on Beasley:
I want to believe so badly that Vic Beasley is going to turn into a double digit, Von Miller-esk sack guy. I want to believe that the man taken in the top ten of the 2015 draft will take the next step in year two and learn to better use his hands when fighting off offensive tackles. After Thursday night I must admit that I am still undecided. Apparently Dan Quinn was not fibbing when he told the media that the defense would play most of the snaps in the nickel because Vic Beasley was lined up at defensive end almost exclusively. Beasley had a few moments, one of which came in the first quarter when he applied third down pressure and forced an incompletion and came close to tipping the pass. A few plays prior to that Vic came free and was literally taken down before he could get to the passer, though no flag was thrown. There were also times when Beasley would make contact with the tackle and then just disappear. Both of his QB pressures were the results of inside twists, but when faced with a straight up one on one pass rush Beasley was not impressive.
Check Out Our Backup QB:
So here is the bad news. Matt Ryan was 0 for 4 and the starting offense could not manage a first down in two drives with the starting quarterback at the helm. I will give them a pass on the drive that started on the Falcon one yard line, but certainly you would have liked to have seen a bit more with the full first team. Are you ready for the good news? It looks as though the Falcons will kick off the 2016 season with one of the league’s premiere backup quarterbacks. For as uncomfortable as Matt Ryan appeared in Kyle Shanahan’s offense last season, Matt Schaub looked just as polished running the same scheme he ran under Shanahan in Houston. Schaub finished 10 for 15 totaling 179 yards, a big chunk of which came on two deep throws to Aldrick Robinson. The veteran QB really looked smooth running the bootleg, proving how valuable he is as a teacher to Matt Ryan while he attempts to further perfect the scheme.
Sean Weatherspoon and Paul Worrilow started off the game with a few hard hits that resulted in loss of yards. No one really knew what Weatherspoon had left to offer after re-signing with Atlanta, but hopefully Thursday night was a taste of the production he can provide in 2016. Devonta Freeman dropped an easy touchdown pass from Matt Schaub on Thursday. Hopefully he can get that out of his system now, because those kinds of things can cost you games in the regular season. Mohamed Sanu hauled in a pair of passes in his Falcons debut, both resulting in first downs.