Coordinators show new attacks

The one thing you could take from the Falcons’ 31-17 preseason loss to the Ravens was that both the offense and defense are playing in attack mode. After winning the toss, the Falcons elected to receive, and eight plays, 80 yards and one Julio Jones’ touchdown later, the Falcons had the Georgia Dome shaking. This opening quarter was the Cliff Notes version of what new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and the rest of the Falcons’ staff have been working on throughout the offseason. Roddy White caught Matt Ryan’s first attempt for a gain of 13 yards and the next play was a strike to Jones for 26.

Koetter dialed up a brilliant call just outside the red zone with a screen to Jones on first down. Great blocking by wideout Kerry Meier allowed Jones to escape for a 19-yard gain. Screen plays were neglected by previous Falcons offenses, but it is thought that Koetter will reestablish this dynamic in his offense. Jones then caught a six-yard pass and capped off the drive with the seven-yard touchdown reception.

An interception by Matt Ryan late in the quarter was the only blemish in what was a near perfect night for the first unit. Offensively, the Falcons did not look like they were in need of establishing the run to set up the pass or play action. They came out in attack mode and had the playbook open from the start.

“I think it is going to be extremely important for any offensive unit to get ahead of the chains,” said coach Mike Smith

First down plays turned out some of the night’s most explosive plays and touch fade passes, drag routes, screens and draws were all fair game.

“Its often overlooked that third down efficiency is the most important,” said Smith. “First downs on first downs and first downs on second downs are usually a pretty darn good thing, and that’s something we did I thought very well tonight.”

Even with a no huddle opening drive and long completions quickly marching the Falcons down the field, they were still able to significantly control the time of possession. The Falcons held the ball for 10:42 compared to Baltimore’s 4:18 in the first quarter and opened the second quarter with a Jacquizz Rodgers’ rushing touchdown.

Defensively, the first team held the Ravens scoreless in the first. The success was fueled by an outstanding pass rush and pressure in Mike Nolan’s debut. Rookie Jonathan Massaquoi had a great night and posted six tackles including two tackles for a loss. Robert James had five tackles and a sack. Akeem Dent and Kroy Biermann also recorded sacks.

The defense did a great job of forcing the Ravens into third and longs, and that is an area that starting defensive back Dunta Robisnon believes will breed success this season.

“We wanted to put them in third and long situations,” said Robinson. “The averages are always on your side when you can put a team in third and long situations. It felt like we were clicking on all cylinders out there.”

The Falcons take on the Cincinnati Bengals at home next Thursday in the first of three remaining preseason games. Wide receiver Harry Douglas was nursing a rib injury he obtained during the practice against the Tennessee Titans earlier this week. Douglas’ return should afford himself an opportunity to secure the third receiver spot. The second unit and third units could only post a Matt Bryant field goal in three quarters of play. The first unit is deep with talent, but the development of the second and third is still a work in progress.

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