It is finally an Atlanta Falcons gameday, albeit, a preseason game, but a game day nonetheless. However, even though it is just a preseason game this preseason is set to be one of the most interesting preseasons in a while for the Atlanta Falcons. There are so many position battles to watch and so many young guys to watch to see how they are developing or looking in their first live NFL action that it might not be crazy to say the Atlanta Falcons preseason might be entertaining.
Although, if entertaining is going too far, the 2022 Atlanta Falcons preseason will at least be interesting because there are so many questions about this football team when it comes to personnel, philosophy, and chemistry. There will be a lot of positions to watch tonight for Atlanta Falcons fans, and to help you not get overwhelmed, Thursday night on The Jon Chuckery Show, Jon gave you four things to watch during the Atlanta Falcons first preseason game against the Detroit Lions.
1.) Competent O-Line play
Jon does realize and understand that it is the first preseason game, so he knows everything doesn’t have to be polished and perfect and he doesn’t expect everything to be in week one of the preseason saying “I’m not going to get too micro on all of this. It’s the first preseason game, I don’t want to get over the top with you know we have to see all of these things fixed and ready to go in the first preseason game of the year.”
However, Jon does say “there are some basic concepts that I want to see”, and the first thing is competent offensive line play. Jon says “Can we protect our quarterback? Can we open up some holes in the running game? Are guys getting beat one on one? Are guys whiffing? What are we looking like on our offensive line?” Jon also goes on to say “I’m not looking for we rack up 700 yards of offense, and our offensive line blows it all away and this, that, and the other. What I'm looking for is are we competent looking. Can we protect a quarterback? Can we keep them off our quarterback’s back? Can we open up some holes in the run game? Will guys not swing and miss and whiff on one on one’s and things like that, that’s all.”
It looks like the offensive is going to look a little different than it did last year with Elijah Wilkinson most likely getting the start at left guard and Drew Dalman most likely getting the start at center, and with these changes Jon says he wants to see if “it looks like there maybe is some light toward the end of the tunnel.” Jon knows the Falcons offensive line is a long way away from being a finished product, but he says he at least needs to see “some competence” Friday evening, and that is going to be a big thing for him.
2.) The run game
The Atlanta Falcons rushed for 85.4 yards per game last season, which was second worst in the league, and averaged 3.7 yards per carry, which was third worst in the league in 2021. Now, Jon knows with no Derrick Henry, Taylor Lewan, or Jack Conklin on the roster that the running game won’t be the prolific power running attack Arthur Smith had in Tennessee, but with Arthur Smith wanting to still emphasize the running game as the Head Coach in Atlanta Jon wants to at least see the running game not be “anemic” as he says it was last year.
3.) Consistent Quarterback pressure
Now, right off the bat Jon makes it clear that he isn’t expecting four or five sacks against the Lions, but he is expecting consistent pressure from the pass rush saying “I'm not saying we have to have four or five sacks tomorrow, I’d like to, and i’m not in this first game concerned about what our quantity of sacks are, what I want to see is are we getting to quarterbacks consistently with pressure.”
Also, Jon not only wants to see the pass rush pressure the quarterback consistently, but he wants to see how they do it saying “Are we having to blitz? Are we having to come off the corner blitz? Are we doing crazy things? Are we having to overload the box and jailbreak to get to a quarterback?”
Not only is this Falcons defense overall poised to be better in 2022, but the pass rush specifically should be better after acquiring Lorenzo Carter and drafting Arnold Ebiketie, so the pass rush is another thing to watch out fot later on tonight.
4.) Can the Falcons win 1 on 1 battles?
The NFL is the ultimate team game, but a huge part of being a successful NFL team is winning one on one battles, and that is the fourth and final thing Jon will be watching for tonight as the Falcons take on the Detroit Lions in their first preseason game of 2022. Jon is looking to see if the Falcons can win one on one battles on offense and defense saying “Can [Kaleb] McGary hold up one on one? Can one of our outside guys win a one on one battle? How do our receivers against their secondary look in one on one battles? How do their receivers look against our defensive backs in one on one battles?”
Again, it’s week one of the preseason and nobody should expect anything to look perfect in any aspect of the game tonight, but Jon Chuckery does believe the Falcons should at least look competent in some basics things saying “I don’t have to see everything finished, polished, everything looking perfect out there, but I do want to see some competence on some of these things especially at the line of scrimmage.”
We are just hours away to see if the Atlanta Falcons can at least look competent in certain areas, or if the 2022 season will truly be a long one, and not in a good way.