The Falcons continued their streak losing exhibition football games.

ExploreWhat Arthur Smith said regarding loss to Browns

After the 19-10 loss to the Browns, the Falcons finished the exhibition season 0-3 and have dropped 15 of their last 16 games of the preseason.

The last exhibition season win was a 31-12 victory over Jacksonville on Aug. 29, 2019. The last time the Falcons had a winning exhibition season record was in 2016 when they went 3-1 and went on to reach Super Bowl LI.

Falcons coach Arthur Smith played most of the starters, but held out quarterback Matt Ryan, left tackle Jake Matthews and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett.

Here are five things we learned from the loss:

1. Pitts first catch: Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts, making his NFL debut, caught a short pass in the right flat from quarterback Feleipe Franks and broke loose for a 27-yard gain against the Browns.

Pitts, who was the fourth player taken overall in the draft, did not play in the previous two exhibition games.

“Kyle, we didn’t want his first snap to be against Philly,” Smith said. “We thought he’s done a nice job all (exhibition) season. We try to be smart with guys and create true competition and evaluate those guys.”

Pitts quickly went out of the game.

“I’m just excited to prepare for each game and act like I’m going to be in the game,” Pitts said. “To actually go out there and play was pretty fun.”

After he got a brief taste of the NFL, Pitts was back on the bench.

“We gave him a small little package,” Smith said. “Of course him and Hayden (Hurst) wanted to play the whole game, but we have to make those decisions. Small sample size, but we were going to get him a catch. We’ll see where we go going into the regular season.”

2. Battle for backup QB spot: Franks played the first half and directed the offense to a field goal.

He completed 5-of-8 passes for 66 yards and finished with a passer rating of 88.5. He also rushed three times for 5 yards.

Josh Rosen, who was signed on Tuesday, started the second half. He completed 2 of 3 passes and had the offense on the move until he fumbled the snap from center and the Browns recovered.

ExploreJosh Rosen played well in Falcons debut

On his second series, he drove the Falcons to the 1-yard line, but the drive stalled after left tackle Kion Smith was beaten for a sack on second down. Rosen tossed two incompletions on third and fourth down.

On his third series, Rosen tossed a 7-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Juwan Green. His fourth possession stalled on downs.

Rosen completed 9 of 18 passes for 118 yards, a touchdown and he was sacked twice. He finished with a passer rating of 89.6.

“I thought Josh handled it pretty well,” Smith said. “We had a package for him in the game and he handled it well. He showed his arm talent tonight and I thought he did a nice job overall.”

Smith was noncommittal on if Rosen had done enough to win the backup job. The Falcons plan to evaluate his play and look at the cuts on the waiver wire.

“Hectic,” Rosen said. “Fun. Just getting the opportunity, you’ve got to seize the moment.”

Rosen is hoping to stick with his fifth NFL team.

“It was little bit refreshing to get out on the field, kind of half know the offense and just be able to let go and play football,” Rosen said. “Have fun with it like you did back in Pop Warner.”

AJ McCarron suffered a torn ACL against the Dolphins on Aug 21 and is out for the season. He was placed on injured reserve.

The Falcons have a decision to make at quarterback and will also watch the waiver wire.

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

3. Cornerback shuffle. Cornerback Chris Williamson, a former draft pick of the New York Giants who played at Gainesville High, had a rough outing.

Williamson was beaten by KhaDarel Hodge for a 22-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.

Later in the second quarter, he was called for pass interference. The replay showed that he had his left arm wrapped around the wide receiver.

Williamson is listed as the No. 2 right cornerback behind Fabian Moreau. The Falcons have Kendall Sheffield, who’s been out with an injury, listed as the third right cornerback.

Williamson, 24, was a four-star recruit and started his career at Florida. He transferred to Minnesota and sat out the 2017 season. He was drafted in the seventh round by the Giants in 2020.

He was a standout wide receiver and defensive back at Gainesville, where he played with Deshaun Watson. He had 76 catches for 1,402 yards and 20 touchdowns on offense. He was a Class 5A All-State honoree.

Early in training camp, the 6-foot and 205-pound cornerback, turned some heads.

The Falcons were last in the league in pass defense last season and dumped most of their secondary over the offseason.

Cornerback Darren Hall, a fourth round pick from San Diego State, was beaten by Browns receiver Davion Davis for a 10-yard touchdown with 1:57 to play.

Cleveland quarterbacks completed 29 of 51 passes for 372 yards and two touchdowns.

“No,” Smith said when asked if he was worried about the secondary. “I thought the defense, we didn’t bail them out a enough situationally. Cleveland made a couple of plays. We got a couple of fourth down stops. Those are huge plays.”

4. Ryan stays on bench: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan warmed up before the team faced the Cleveland Browns, but didn’t play.

He didn’t play one down over three exhibition games this season.

“I feel pretty good with where we are at,” Ryan said on Wednesday when asked if he’d be comfortable not playing in the exhibition season.

There was no exhibition season in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, so for the second season in a row Ryan will enter with no exhibition game work. Ryan, 36, is set to enter his 14th season in the league.

Smith and Ryan, who won the league’s MVP award after the 2016 season, are putting a lot of stock in the two joint practices the Falcons held with the Dolphins in Miami on Aug. 18 and 19.

“I thought the joint practices last week in Miami were really good,” Ryan said. “To go against some different looks, different players, to not see the same thing, react to some different things, different speed. It thought that was really good for us.”

The Browns played their starting quarterback Baker Mayfield for two series. He completed 6 of 10 passes for 113 yards and tossed a 22-yard touchdown strike to KhaDarel Hodge. He finished with a passer rating of 132.5.

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Ryan planned to go along with Smith’s wishes.

“Whatever Art asks me to do, I’ll be ready to go Sunday night,” Ryan said. “I feel like I’ll be ready to go in a few weeks when we kick it off (against) Philadelphia.”

The Falcons open the season at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 12, against the Eagles at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

In 2019, Ryan did not play in three of five exhibition games.

He played 31 offensive snaps (38%) against the Jets in the third exhibition game and 30 offensive snaps (48%) against the Washington Football Team in the fourth exhibition game. He didn’t play in the Pro Football Hall of game, the second exhibition game against the Dolphins and he didn’t play in the finale against the Jaguars.

5. Ball security: The Falcons’ backups on defense made a big-play when Kobe Jones intercepted a pass and rambled 42 yards in the third quarter.

Cleveland tight end Jordan Franks, Feleipe Franks’ brother, chased him down and forced a fumble as Jones was swinging the ball in the air.

Cleveland’s Colby Gossett recovered the ball.

A few players later, Jones hit Browns quarterback Kyle Lauletta and his pass was intercepted by safety Dwayne Johnson. He returned it 11 yards before fumbling. J.R. Pace recovered the ball.

“The only thing I was disappointed in was the turnover and giving them the ball back,” Smith said. “We can’t do that.”

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