First Impressions – Falcons @ Jaguars

| August 21, 2011

The Atlanta Falcons ended last season as the NFC’s number one seed before being kicked out of the playoffs by the overpowering Green Bay Packers. In response to their under-achieving playoff run, Atlanta added some more weapons on both sides of the ball in order to make a deep playoff run.
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Unlike the Flacons, the Jacksonville Jaguars were a game away from toppling the Indianapolis Colts’ stranglehold on the AFC South last year, as they barely missed the playoffs. In the off-season, they made a big splash by taking Blaine Gabbert in the NFL entry draft, which essentially put a ticking clock on the tenure of David Garrard as the Jaguars’ starting quarterback.

While this game ended in a 15-13 Jaguars win, there were many things that we could take from this matchup.
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Atlanta- Three Things of Note

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● I thought that Harry Douglas looked like a pretty nifty player before his career was derailed by a major injury, and while Julio Jones will bring the Falcons a real weapon opposite of Roddy White, Douglas looks like he’s ready to provide Atlanta with a threat from the slot.  Douglas showed some nice route running and separation in this game, and he also showed a great bit of burst on his long touchdown after finding a hole in the Jacksonville’s zone defense.  Kudos to Julio Jones for going with him on the play, keeping his path clear all the way to the end zone.

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● The Falcons have a new right guard this season after losing Harvey Dahl to free agency.  Garrett Reynolds looked to have a pretty solid day at right guard, doing well in the run game but also looking solid in pass protection. While he wasn’t perfect, he demonstrated the ability to take his man one on one, as well as work with Tyson Clabo.  The Falcons will have done well for themselves if they managed to lose just the one offensive lineman to free agency and Reynolds proves that he can fit in seamlessly.

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● It’s no secret that we weren’t big fans of Sean Weatherspoon as a rookie.  Despite the big billing coming out of college, he was all too often lost in coverage and wasn’t exactly an impact linebacker coming down hill.  This game showed a much better display, and might be a sign that the young linebacker just needed to settle into the game at the pro level.

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Jacksonville - Three Things of Note

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● David Garrard vs. Blaine Gabbert is going to be the storyline of the season for the Jaguars.  Garrard has always been a better quarterback than he’s been given credit for and by and large, he played alright in this game.  At times, Garrard made some stick throws in the face of significant pressure in an attempt to keep the drive alive, but he did punctuate that with an ugly overthrow for an interception in addition to a couple of misses on two throws to TE Marcedes Lewis that would have ended with a touchdown.  Gabbert had a mixed day as well, missing on receivers on a bunch of throws, but he looked much more comfortable when the Jaguars put him in spread formations. However, his accuracy was much more of a concern, as he missed receivers short and high, which suggests that he needs more time to get comfortable before being thrown to the wolves.

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● The Jacksonville defensive front isn’t finished with showing both 3-4 and 4-3 looks.  They began the game in a 4-3, but were soon showing a 3-4 front with Darryl Smith and Jeremy Mincey playing as outside linebackers.  Interestingly enough, Matt Roth, a proven outside linebacker in a 3-4, was aligned on the defensive line as an end.  They did this twice in the early stages of the game and neither of them was in an obvious passing situation. In fact, both plays were more likely running downs, making Roth’s positioning all the more interesting.

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● The Jaguars still look to have some pretty significant problems on the offensive line.  This time, the stand-out players (in a negative way) were the guards.  We were told to look out for the play of LG Will Rackley by the announcers in the booth, and unfortunately for him, we did.  Rackley had a tough day, surrendering pressure and losing his way in the run game. However Rackley wasn’t alone, as Uche Nwaneri was beaten badly on multiple occasions as well.  If last night`s game is any indication, the Jaguars will need to fix their offensive line before they start looking to fix their quarterback problems.

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In the end, this game was less about the football being played as it was about the enduring strange image of a giant, blue Tony Siragusa talking alongside a small, seated yet dapper Mike Pereira.  Those are two members of the crew I have a hard time picturing sharing a drink with afterwards.

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Follow Sam on Twitter: @SamMonson … and give our main Twitter feed a follow too: @ProFootbalFocus
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  • sunnym

    Did you guys note how Peria Jerry looked? He plays as good as we all hope and we’ve got a potential top-5 DLine.