Cover 9@9: What we learned about the Falcons from their time in New Jersey

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

1. The no-spin zone: Before the exhibition game, the Jets scribes were declaring a joint-practice victory over the Falcons.

They noted that the Falcons made the Jets look like a juggernaut.

“See ya in Arizona,” one quipped. “Going to be a long season in the ATL.”

After “winning” the joint practices, the Jets stormed back to defeat the Falcons 24-16 in a battle of backups Monday night.

Not really sure how a team “wins” the joint practice, but Falcons coach Arthur Smith felt the time in New Jersey was well-spent.

“I thought we had a productive week up (there),” Smith said. “What’s frustrating with some of the stuff that happened in the second half. That’s why I apologize to you guys who had to watch some of that. But we’ll get better.”

After the 13-penalty performance, Smith and the coaching staff had some ready-made teaching/coaching points.

“You find out a lot about young guys,” Smith said. “I mean, some of the guys, you know, you live with the first-time mistakes. It’s when you got people that repeat the same ones over and over. That’s tough. It can be frustrating.”

Cornerback Lafayette Pitts probably cut himself with the 28-yard defensive pass-interference call that led to the Jets taking a 17-16 lead. Pitts was gone on the cutdown to 80 on Tuesday.

“So, we’ll get it cleaned up,” Smith said. “Our guys’ effort was there. But there (are) things certainly (that) young guys will learn from.”

The Falcons’ secondary had a tough time against veteran quarterback Joe Flacco in the joint practices. There was the one deep ball that he feathered into Corey Davis with Jaylinn Hawkins and A.J. Terrell in coverage. It was all over the team’s website.

The Falcons’ offensive line did well against the Jets’ pass rushers.

They have a different scheme,” Smith said. “We got to go against a different kind of front. They’re jetting up the field, and I thought our guys for the most part held up pretty well in pass protection.”

Jacksonville, the Falcons’ next exhibition opponent, also has a promising pass rush.

They are hopeful that No. 1 overall draft pick Travon Walker, who starred at UGA, and Josh Allen, who was taken seventh overall out of Kentucky in 2019, can turn into a pass-rushing duo.

“Excited to have Jacksonville in here,” Smith said. “You know, I think the world of (coach) Doug Pederson and his staff. We will get good work.”

2. Troy Andersen debut: Falcons rookie linebacker Troy Andersen, who was drafted in the second round out of Montana State, made his debut against the Jets.

Anderson played 32 defensive snaps (56%) and had two tackles and a quarterback hit.

3. Marlon Davidson update: Falcons defensive end Marlon Davidson, who recently underwent knee surgery, has a chronic left-knee issue and could be headed for injured reserve.

The Falcons want to get him healthy and then figure out if he can help them this season and perhaps long term.

After a durable career at Auburn, he’s been snakebit in the pros, starting from the ankle injury he sustained at the Senior Bowl.

The Falcons were hoping that Davidson or Ta’Quon Graham would step forward at the defensive end spot opposite Grady Jarrett to help provide an interior pass rush.

Davidson had his first left-knee surgery after his rookie season.

The Falcons will need to get him back and figure out if he can hold up in the trenches.

4. Drake London update: Wide receiver Drake London, who was hit on his left knee on his only catch against the Lions, missed last week. We’ll see if the Falcons clear him to practice against the Jaguars or let him rest until the season opener.

5. Snap counts versus Jets: In addition to London and Davidson, the Falcons didn’t play receiver Auden Tate, cornerback Isaiah Oliver (knee), linebacker Deion Jones (PUP list), linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (undisclosed injury) and Jarrett (rest). Tate was cut Tuesday. Click here for the full list of the snap counts.

6. Progress meter: The Falcons’ first-team offense has not deployed its two major offensive weapons – tight end Kyle Pitts and running back Cordarrelle Patterson – much in the two exhibition games.

“I think those guys will continue to work,” Smith said. “We got a big day Wednesday. It’s about our progress. We’re not gonna live and die with day-to-day narratives. I’ve said that many times, and it’s about our progress.”

7. Backup running backs: The Falcons’ running backs rushed the ball 23 times for 70 yards against the Jets.

Caleb Huntley had 11 carries for 34 yards. Tyler Allgeier had six carries for 17 yards, Qadree Ollison had four carries for 14 yards and Damien Williams had two carries for 5 yards.

“It’s really easy,” Smith said. “We let those guys compete. (Ollison) got some early carries. Tyler got some early carries. We got a good competition going there. That was really what I thought.”

8. Putting up points: The Falcons’ first-team offense has scored two touchdowns and one field goal over four drives this exhibition season.

“Definitely (encouraging),” wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus said. “That’s why we do what we do in the (exhibition) season to put points on the board in hopes that it translates into the regular season. Definitely encouraging and we’ve just have to keep building on it.”

The Falcons are looking forward to facing Jacksonville.

“Whenever you practice against a different team, especially at this point in the season, it’s good to just get a different look,” Zaccheaus said. “You’ve been going against your defense all of training camp and all of OTAs. You see new things. You get to learn about different looks and stuff like that. It’s been really good for us. It’s been good work for not just the offense but the whole team.”

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC

9. Depth chart: The Falcons, who are set to practice against the Jaguars on Wednesday and Thursday and play their final exhibition game at 3 p.m. Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, cut four players and waived one injured to get down to 80 players by the Tuesday deadline.

Defensive back Lafayette Pitts, Tate, wide receiver Geronimo Allison and outside linebacker Kuony Deng were cut. Defensive end Jalen Dalton, who started against the Jets, was waived injured.

Dalton was injured in the game against the Jets.

The final cutdown to 53 players must be completed by 4 p.m. Aug. 30. Teams then can sign 16 players to the practice squad by noon Aug. 31.

Here’s a look at the updated depth chart:


WR: KhaDarel Hodge, Damiere Byrd, Drake London, KeeSean Johnson

TE: Kyle Pitts, Anthony Firkser, Feleipe Franks

LT: Jake Matthews, Rick Leonard, Leroy Watson

LG: Elijah Wilkinson, Jalen Mayfield, Justin Shaffer

C: Matt Hennessy -OR- Drew Dalman, Ryan Neuzil

RG: Chris Lindstrom, Colby Gossett, Jonotthan Harrison

RT: Kaleb McGary, Germain Ifedi, Tyler Vrabel

TE: Parker Hesse, MyCole Pruitt, John FitzPatrick

WR: Olamide Zaccheaus, Bryan Edwards, Frank Darby, Cameron Batson, Stanley Berryhill, Jared Bernhardt

RB: Cordarrelle Patterson, Damien Williams, Keith Smith, Qadree Ollison, Caleb Huntley, Avery Williams, John Raine, Tyler Allgeier

QB: Marcus Mariota, Desmond Ridder, Feleipe Franks


DL: (DE) Grady Jarrett, Abdullah Anderson, Timothy Horne

DL: (NT) Anthony Rush, Nick Thurman, Derrick Tangelo

DL: (DE) Ta’Quon Graham, Marlon Davidson, Darrion Daniels

OLB: Adetokunbo Ogundeji, Arnold Ebiketie

ILB: Mykal Walker, Nick Kwiatkoski, Troy Andersen

ILB: Rashaan Evans, Dorian Etheridge, Nathan Landman

OLB: Lorenzo Carter, Quinton Bell, Jordan Brailford, DeAngelo Malone

CB: A.J. Terrell, Mike Ford, Corey Ballentine, Matt Hankins

S: Richie Grant, Erik Harris, Henry Black

S: Jaylinn Hawkins, Dean Marlowe, Teez Tabor

CB: Casey Hayward, Darren Hall, Isaiah Oliver, Dee Alford


K: Younghoe Koo

P: Bradley Pinion

LS: Liam McCullough

H: Bradley Pinion

PR: Avery Williams

KOR: Avery Williams

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