Falcons vs Jaguars 2011 NFL Preseason Week 2 Preview
The Atlanta Falcons (0-1) lost their 2011 NFL preseason opener to the Dolphins last week, but they could not have been more satisfied with the way their offense showed up. Matt Ryan and company will now travel to Northern Florida on Friday night for their week 2 showdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) at 8:00m ET on FOX. The Jaguars also lost their week 1 matchup, but theirs was a 47-12 thrashing against a New England Patriots team that did not even field their top two stars, Tom Brady or Chad Ochocinco. This will be another tough task for this Jaguars team who seems to be trying to develop rookie Blaine Gabbert to be the starter sooner rather than later. It is Jacksonville’s defense however, that will be tested mightily on Friday night and I don’t believe that they will be ready for what is coming.
Matt Ryan completed some very nice passes to both Julio Jones and Roddy White last week, sending a message to the rest of the NFL that this team is a force to be reckoned with once again this year. The Falcons will be without two key starters against the Jaguars, one on each side of the ball. Cornerback Dunta Robinson has been ruled out by head coach Mike Smith because of a hamstring injury, and on offense, center Todd McClure will sit out simply for the extra rest. At 34 years of age, it’s probably not such a bad idea for Smith to give the veteran center the night off. McClure has spent all 11 of his NFL seasons in Atlanta and he hasn’t missed a single start in the past nine seasons, so there is no need to jeopardize that streak for a meaningless preseason affair.
Expect McClure to appear in the Falcons’ third preseason game at Pittsburgh next Saturday night. As for Robinson, he too is a veteran that can be trusted to hit the ground running in the regular season provided he’s healthy. Whether or not he plays again this preseason will depend entirely on how his hamstring is feeling. Defensive end Ray Edwards, who returned to practice this week, may make his debut on the Falcons defensive line after sitting out of the first game. The former Vikings defensive end signed a five-year, $30 million contract right before training camp began. If he does make an appearance, he will be chasing down David Garrard in the first quarter.
The Jaguars will be starting Garrard instead of rookie Blaine Gabbert, who started last week due to Garrard’s sore back. Gabbert will continue to push to take the starting job by the time the season rolls around, but unfortunately, neither quarterback will have the team’s starting running back, Maurice Jones-Drew, who is still recovering from offseason knee surgery. On the other side of the ball, the defense will attempt to rebound from last week’s 47-12 loss to the Patriots in which they gave up 476 yards. That’s not what fans wanted to see after they signed guys like Paul Posluszny, Clint Session, Dawan Landry and Matt Roth to help avoid finding themselves with one of the worst defenses in the league like they did in 2010.
The Jaguars are listed as 3-point favorites over the Atlanta Falcons in this game, but I don’t think that they will win at all. The Jaguars just looked to sloppy in week 1 and the carousel at the quarterback position does not indicate that this team knows in which direction they will be heading just yet. The Falcons were just a couple of wins away from the Super Bowl last season and since they are returning with an even stronger squad this year, I expect them to find more of a rhythm tonight against this mediocre secondary in Jacksonville. Look for another high scoring game here as Mike Smith will be sure to let it fly throughout the entire game.