It is generally accepted that the NFL preseason is about as telling as a stopped clock.
As a sign of what’s to come, the preseason is no more accurate than a preschooler’s finger painting or a telemarketer’s promise.
Now it becomes the Falcons task over the next four months to prove such assumption true beyond all doubt. Their mission is to demonstrate what a sham, what a gouge of the ticket holder and an insult to football-loving people everywhere, the preseason really is.
For if we were to place the slightest importance on their third preseason game in Jacksonville Saturday night – “the most meaningful” of the four carbuncles on the schedule – then we’d have to concede that the Falcons are in for a most difficult 2018. Thoughts of a Super Bowl homecoming game would lie in ruins here in August.
One would be forced to conclude that Jalen Ramsey – the Jags DB who had the gall to call Matt Ryan “overrated” – just might have a future in scouting the quarterback position.
Or that the Falcons will never again cross the goal line, their red zone issues becoming the grass stain that just won’t wash out.
That, by the looks of its gasping defenders at the end of the first half Saturday, they were on the “Fortnite” conditioning program all summer, building thumbs of steel.
Or that rookie receiver Calvin Ridley, so dynamic just a week ago, has an evil twin, one that you’d want to keep away from the good crystal at all costs.
Of course, nothing so concrete can be derived from the wet cardboard of the preseason.
The only certainly coming from Saturday night was the revelation that the NFL has completely lost its way on the legalities of tackling. What is a good hit? The answer to that now is as ambiguous as the definition of art.
There was nothing about Saturday night’s game to make a Falcons fan feel good. To those with something better to do than watch it, we salute you. You are healthier and happier for it. There is only one game matching Georgia against Florida in Jacksonville that matters, and that one comes months later and requires every hangover cure in the book.
The Falcons played this last one without Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, Deion Jones, Ricardo Allen and Desmond Trufant. One more preseason game remains, Thursday against Miami at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The infamous final preseason game. The Fredo of preseason games. The one that makes all the other preseason games look as star-driven as the Oscars by comparison. No one you’ve ever heard of plays in that one. Those attending may be asked to sign a waiver in case they are summoned from the stands to fill out the punt return team.
It has been a thus far a winless preseason for the Falcons, one that has been particularly unmemorable. That’s a tough distinction to make, like ranking the least meaningful Adam Sandler roles.
The only blessing of this preseason is that it’s almost over. We have sat impatiently by and watched these exhibitions drone on one after another, like the interminable previews before the movie starts, trying not to eat all the popcorn in advance of the opening credits.
The preseason is hard. It tests and teases. It is so many empty calories. So unfulfilling. Enough already.
In just a little more than a week – finally – the Falcons will be given the chance to verify our contempt for it.