ReFo: Titans @ Falcons, Preseason Week 3
It’s that time of the Preseason, where teams leave there starters in for an appreciable amount of time, sometimes even into the second half. Numerous Falcons saw 40+ snaps as Atlanta’s starting offense pulled out to a 17-3 lead which was then squandered away as the second string failed to put any points on the board. In the end, the Titans’ backups steadily closed the gap before taking the lead for good with a touchdown run late in the game.
But as with all preseason games, the final score is far less important than the play on the field. So with rookies, new signings, and positional battles in mind, here are some takeaway points from the Georgia Dome.
Tennessee Titans — Performances of Note
Taylor Lewan, OT: +0.8
Breakdown: Not the most dominant of days for the Titan’s first-round pick, but a solid effort nonetheless. Earning his playing time at left tackle after Michael Roos got his 32 snaps in, Lewan impressed in both facets of the game, giving up just one pressure (negated by penalty) and earning a +1.2 grade for his work in the run game. His only real disappointment was a false start penalty late in the third.
Signature Play: Flashed the talent that made him a first round pick with an excellent reach block on Ra’Shede Hageman on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Jake Locker, QB: +2.7
Breakdown: About the only thing we know for sure about Locker is that we don’t know much about him. During his brief career, Locker has been equally likely to be either incredible, infuriating, or injured. In this one he was the former, earning that grade on only 32 snaps. A perfect 2-for-2 on passes beyond 20 yards in the air, Locker has shown Tennessee fans something to be excited about this year, provided he can stay on the field.
Signature Stat: Sometimes the raw stats lie, but not here: Locker had a QB rating of 135.4 against pressure.
Starting Front 7: +6.6 combined against the run
Breakdown: It would be unfair to single out one player of a unit that played well as a whole. Leading the charge was Jurrell Casey (+2.0 run def), showing Atlanta’s line what happens when you go easy on run plays in the other direction. Casey chased down a run to the right for minimal gain early in the first and again midway through the second quarter. Zach Brown made the most of the destruction in front of him, recording a six tackles an four more assists.
Signature Stat: Four of that starting seven graded at +1.0 or above.
Atlanta Falcons — Performances of Note
Left Side of the O-Line: -4.6 combined
Breakdown: It was a rough day for rookie tackle Jake Matthews and incumbent left guard Justin Blalock. Both fell victim to a stampeding Jurrell Casey in the run game, but Matthews didn’t help himself out by committing a false start and a hold on Karl Klug. Blalock struggled on the occasions he made it to the second level and when asked to deal with Sammie Lee Hill at the line of scrimmage.
Signature Stat: Matthews and Blalock were downgraded in the run game four and five times, respectively.
Paul Soliai, DT: +1.4
Breakdown: Needing to shore up the trenches, the Falcons signed both Tyson Jackson and Soliai this offseason. Jackson (-0.6) was quiet, and though Soliai saw just 16 snaps, he registered a +1.4 grade in his brief foray onto the field. The former Dolphin was solid against the run (+0.8) working primarily against the guards, registering most of his positive grades with a strong bull rush.
Signature Play: With 44 seconds to play in the opening quarter, Soliai bulldozed left guard Andy Levitre into Locker. Soliai’s pressure doesn’t make it into the typical stat sheet, but the bull rush prevented Locker from stepping into the throw and hitting a wide open Nate Washington for a touchdown.
Javier Arenas, CB: +1.0
Breakdown: Another free agent signing, Arenas didn’t make quite the same cash as Soliai, but looks just as likely to earn playing time. Targeted six times, Arenas allowed a paltry 17 yards. Kendall Wright helped out his yardage total (but not his grade) with a drop but even so he did well in his 31 coverage snaps. Counting just $730k against the cap, if Arenas can continue this solid play when the games start to matter he’ll provide tremendous value to the Falcons.
Signature Stat: Ordinarily not a great achievement, Arenas wasn’t responsible for any of the 26 flags thrown in this game despite leading the Falcons’ defense with 48 snaps.
PFF Game Ball
His team wasn’t on top when he left the game, but Jake Locker showed loads of promise heading into his fourth year as a pro.