Welcome back readers, it has been a while since the last post and we have a few things to discuss. Since the last post, the Falcons have ended Training Camp and are about to start the regular season practice schedule. Now that camp has broken and the team has two preseason games in the books, I think it is a good time to point to a few things that have stood out to me on the offensive side of the ball.
First and foremost. WOW! Is this the same offensive line unit for a year ago? We all are aware that last year’s unit wasn't so great. Ryan was sacked 26 times and hit an eye opening 84 times, clearly that is not the type of beating you want your franchise quarterback to be taking. Through the preseason the line has looked phenomenal in the passing game; Ryan has yet to be sacked and for the most part has had time to make the throws.
"I think two games into [the exhibition season] I haven't been hit yet. I keep telling them 'Keep that up and it’s going to be a fun year.'" -- Matt Ryan (from ajc.com)
As we all know if a quarterback isn't sacked, that typically bodes well for the rest of the offense and the team as a whole.
The next thing that has caught my eye and surely the eyes of many is the Ryan-Jones connection. Boy have they looked sharp! Over the first two games the duo has been dynamic. (Hmm Dynamic Duo?? I like the sound of that) While only playing in what equates to about a half of football the two have hit on nine passes for 150 yards and an amazing touchdown. After having a rookie season put on hold due to labor disputes and shortened by a nagging hamstring injury, Jones is really starting off strong as a second year pro and according to position coach Terry Robiskie it starts on the practice field and in the changes in his preparation for the game.
"Every Sunday in the NFL is like Alabama-Florida or Alabama-LSU. We don't have Louisiana-Monroe on the schedule, we don’t have Troy on the schedule between the big games to slow the tempo down. Every week you've got to go play LSU, you've got to go play Florida. That's a grind." -- Terry Robiskie (from Yahoo Sports)
Even with the numbers the duo is putting up I wouldn't be so quick to believe Ryan has found a new number one guy. While Matty Ice is surely enjoying his new toy, he still looks to veteran wide out Roddy White to move the chains. White has caught seven passes this preseason for 100 yards resulting in seven first downs.
Lastly, the Falcons Offense and Michael Turner. More importantly does he still fit the plan? It’s been well advertised that the team is shifting to a more pass oriented attack with a multitude of screen passes, deep balls and things like that. The thing that has been nagging in the back of my mind is where does this leave Turner and the run game? As I have been watching the preseason games, I can't help but notice that the running back is looking very slow when he has the ball. Averaging four carries in each of the games Turner is gained 14 yards rushing total, while second year back Jacquizz Rodgers has toted the rock 13 times for 57 yards and a score. New Offensive Coordinator, Dirk Koetter, insists he does not focus on run game during the preseason. . .
"To be honest, I never worry about the running game in preseason. I just don’t see why you want to plow it up in there and get your backs beat up. We know Michael Turner can run the football." -- Dirk Koetter (from ajc.com)
Are you buying that? I certainly didn't expect him to say "Turner is old and slow so we are not going to run him" but the film tape doesn't lie. I've never been the type to second guess a coach on the production of a player but for many fans, including myself, it’s a troubling thought that Turner might be struggling.
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