Here are the grades for the Falcons from their 28-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the second exhibition game on Friday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Run offense: Running back Devonta Freeman was held out off the game in a DNP-CD. (Did not play. Coach’s decision). Running back Tevin Coleman looked great while ripping off two 15-yard gains in the opening drive. The second one was very important. It came to the right side of the line where Brandon Fusco and Ryan Schraeder created a nice seam for Coleman to race through. Coleman finished with five carries for 35 yards. But the Falcons wanted to see what fourth-round pick Ito Smith could do running in their outside zone scheme. They wanted to see him run with authority and not dance. He finished with 13 carries for 34 yards and was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 from Kansas City’s 8 yard line late in the second quarter. He did rip off a 9-yard run. Grade: B-minus
Pass offense: Julio Jones, like Freeman, was a DNP-CD. Quarterback Matt Ryan was sharp as he completed 5-of-7 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown. He had a passer rating of 153.3. He capped the opening drive with a 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Austin Hooper. The Falcons wanted to see Calvin Ridley make some plays and he got open deep for a 36-yard gain. Ridley could have scored with a better pass, but had to come back to the ball. Ridley, the first-round pick from Alabama, caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Matt Schaub in the second quarter. Schaub put together a 14-play, 75-yard drive that took 8:28 off the clock. Schaub completed 7-of-10 passes for 75 yards and finished with a passer rating of 125. Hooper and Eric Saubert both had explosive plays on receptions of 29 and 24 yards respectively. Kurt Benkert took over and tossed an awful interception that was returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. His dump-off pass to running back Justin Crawford was woefully behind. Chiefs linebacker Ben Niermann intercepted it and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown. Garrett Grayson closed out the game. Grade: A
Run defense: The Falcons’ first-team defense bottled up Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt, who led the league in rushing last season. He had seven carries for 15 yards, so the unit passed their first test against a quality running back. Safety Keanu Neal received a lowering of the helmet to initiate contact penalty when he leveled Hunt in the first quarter. Rookie Foyesade Oluokun started for middle linebacker Deion Jones, who suffered a mild strain on Thursday and was held back for precautionary reasons. Oluokun, the sixth-round pick from Yale, didn’t look out of place as he flowed well to the ball. Grade: A
Pass defense: The first-team defense didn’t give up anything to Chiefs second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Robert Alford had a nice pass breakup and nickel back Brian Poole blew up Tyreek Hill and stopped him short of a first down. Damontae Kazee tracked a deep ball from Mahomes intended for Sammy Watkins and made an interception. But the reserves gave up two massive plays. The speedy Hill shot past cornerback Justin Bethel and safeties Marcellis Branch and Tyson Graham couldn't track the deep ball from Mahomes. He connected with Hill for a 69-yard touchdown late in the second quarter. In the third quarter, second-round pick Isaiah Oliver didn't get the jam and got roasted by Chiefs wide receiver Gehrig Deiter for a 27-yard touchdown pass from Chad Henne. Grade C-minus
Special teams: Ridley look comfortable returning kickoffs. He took the opening kickoff for a 34-yard gain. He had 18 yards on his second kickoff return. Smith look uncomfortable returning kicks and slipped on two returns and had illegal blocking penalty on a punt return. David Marvin handled the kicking for the Falcons as Matt Bryant was held out of the game. Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker, who played at Georgia Tech, made field goals of 25 and 49 yards. Grade B-minus
Coaching: Poole set the tone early when he popped Hill as the Falcons wanted to play their brand of attacking football against the Chiefs after a lethargic opening against the Jets. However, the Falcons had four penalties in the first quarter. One was declined. The guilty parties: Smith (illegal use of hands), left guard Andy Levitre (illegal use of hands, declined), Neal (lowering of helmet to initiate contact) and defensive end Takk McKinley (lining up in neutral zone --procedural). So, there’s still work to do with cleaning up the penalties. The style of play came through. The first-team offense looked sharp despite getting stopped on a fourth-and-2 from the 20. They went empty backfield in a short-yardage situation and threw a pass. In the new pass-happy NFL that’s a good call? Old school, that’s a meek call. Line up and run it down their throats! Might as well kick the field goal if you’re going to call a pass play . Grade B-plus
Next up: The Chiefs improved to 1-1, while the Falcons dropped to 0-2 in the exhibition season. The Falcons face the Jacksonville Jaguars at 7 p.m. Saturday at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.
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