The Falcons 15-13 loss to the Jaguars in the second game of the preseason was a frustrating one. Some things went wrong, but the Falcons under head coach Mike Smith have always been about not dwelling on the bad for too long and continuing to always try to go from good to great. Quarterback Matt Ryan discussed some of the offense's shortcomings and Smith saw glimpses of a playmaker on defense in the post-game comments.
Third-year defensive tackle Peria Jerry spent last season battling back from a knee injury and appears finallly completely healthy. He showed great movement on the field last night, showing up in the backfield and helping the defense limit Jacksonville's run game to 55 yards and a 2.1 yards-per-carry average. Jerry also added a sack and Smith liked what he saw: "I thought Peria, just from the sidelines, did a real nice job. He was getting vertical and running off the football. That's a good sign to see because we need those negative yardage plays being produced inside." *
Another key figure on the team coming back to 100 percent is wide receiver Harry Douglas, whose 76-yard touchdown catch was the most exciting play of the game. It was a catch made on an intermediate route and Douglas did the rest, churning out yards after the catch, something the Falcons know they must improve on. Douglas feels he's working like he did as a junior in college, a season that saw his play put himself on the national spotlight in a prolific offense: "I wanted to approach this year like I did my junior year of college, working on my legs, getting stronger, getting more yards after the catch. That's one thing I did this offseason and focused a lot on. Once again for us to put points on the board we have to break tackles and get yards after the catch. That's one of the things I know I have to do and I'm here to do whatever they ask me to do." *
Smith's assessment was fair and balanced, pointing out Douglas' explosive play and the positive things the defense did. He also pointed out an area where the defense can improve, based on what he saw Friday night, on third downs: "I thought we did some things very poorly in the game tonight, in a lot of areas. Offensively we weren't hitting on all cylinders. We struggled with moving the football there in the first half. The Jacksonville defense did a great job. Way too many third-down-and-long conversions on the defensive side of the ball. Five of them were third-and-ten-plus. We've got a lot of work to do, but that's what the preseason is for. The energy was there, but we've got to continue to work." *
Ryan offered up similar feedback on the offense, pointing out the penalties that called back a few big plays. It was an uncharacteristic night for a normally disciplined offensive line and there's little reason to believe a performance like that is anything more than an anomaly: "We just made a couple of mistakes offensively, on first down, some procedural penalties, those kinds of things, that threw us off track, but that's something we can improve on and things we can control. We're going to get back to work this week, clean those things up and try and play better next week."