Falcons-Jets takeaways: Damontae Kazee's 11 tackles a bright spot in preseason loss

S Damontae Kazee
S Damontae Kazee

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Falcons lost their preseason opener 17-0 to the New York Jets on Friday night at MetLife Stadium. The preseason is partially about learning and improving, and there were plenty of teachable moments for the Falcons in this game.

It’s important to first mention that this is only a preseason game - and the first one at that - so there is no reason for panic. In many ways, this game looked very much like the first game of the season for the Falcons.

Offensively, Atlanta drove into the red zone just once on the evening, failing to convert a fourth-and-2 at the 5-yard line. The Falcons committed 10 penalties for 71 yards in the game, many of which seemingly stalled offensive drives. Atlanta gained 254 total yards of offense - 205 passing and 49 yards rushing.

Defensively, the Falcons held the Jets’ offense to 253 yards and 17 points. Both of the Jets’ touchdowns came inside of the red zone, where they were a perfect 2-for-2.

One of the main bright spots for the Falcons came on defense, which brings us to tonight’s takeaways:

Safety Damontae Kazee had a standout night

Once he entered the game it was hard not to notice No. 27 on defense. Second-year safety Damontae Kazee has earned a reputation as a ball-hawk on the back end, but it was his tackling ability that was on display Friday night. Kazee ended his evening with 11 tackles - nine of which were solo - and was a true bright spot during the game.

Quinn: ‘The penalties in this game cost us’

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn went into Friday night’s preseason opener hoping to get some quality evaluations on many of his younger players. At his post-game press conference, Quinn said he wasn’t able to do that to the extent that he would have liked. The 10 penalties the Falcons accrued against the Jets certainly didn’t help matters.

“I was so looking forward to this game,” Quinn said after the loss. “A big evaluation opportunity on a number of guys at a number of different spots, and I thought we missed our mark in some instances… I thought the penalties in this game cost us where it created some difficult field positions to convert so that maybe we didn’t get the looks that we wanted to. That part of our game we certainly need to clean up.”

Falcons' starting units each go three-and-out

It was the Falcons’ defense that took the field first on Friday night, but they weren’t out there for long. A pair of tackles by linebacker Deion Jones helped the Falcons hold the Jets to just nine yards and force a three-and-out.

Unfortunately, the Falcons’ starters on offense weren’t on the field for much longer. A pair of penalties pushed the Falcons into a second-and-20 situation, and they were punting two plays later. Running back Tevin Coleman carried the ball three times for eight yards and rookie receiver Calvin Ridley caught one pass for negative-two yards on the drive.

Kurt Benkert provides a spark for the offense

Rookie quarterback Kurt Benkert gave the Falcons’ offense life when he entered the game at the start of the third quarter. Benkert’s first pass of the night - a 27-yard strike to rookie receiver Devin Gray - was the longest offensive play to that point. In his first two drives as quarterback Benkert led the offense on drives of 66 and 60 yards, respectively, picking up five first downs along the way. He moved the Falcons as close as the Jets’ 4-yard line, but the offense was unable to put any points on the board. Benkert ended the game 9-of-17 passing for 125 yards with one interception.

Please continue to check back here throughout the night as this piece will continue to be updated.

For more takeaways from tonight's game, you can check out our live blog from the first preseason game against the Jets, below:

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