With both the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons kicking off the 2019 preseason, Predominantly Orange sat down with Blogging Dirty ahead of the game.
Can you believe that Denver Broncos football is just a few short days away? While it is only preseason, any football is better than no football. With preseason starting on Thursday, we are just a little over a month away from the start of actual football. Games that matter.
But first, the Denver Broncos need to get through five preseason contests. In addition to the four preseason games that are normally played, Denver has been given the honor of playing in the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame game.
The game is part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame weekend where past players, owners, coaches, and important members of the NFL are honored and enshrined into the Hall of Fame forever.
The teams that are selected to play in this game depend on whom will be entering the Hall of Fame that year. For the Denver Broncos, the fans will get to see Champ Bailey and Pat Bowlen enshrined on Saturday. For their opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, Tony Gonzalez will be inducted.
With this being the first game of the preseason, we sat down with Jeffery Benedict, the site expert over at Blogging Dirty. We chatted about a various amount of topics, including offseason moves and expectations for a game where there will not be a lot of star power. Check it out.
Predominantly Orange: As far as Atlanta’s offseason is concerned, which move do you believe will make the most impact for the 2019 season?
The biggest impact move the Atlanta Falcons made this off-season was the drafting of both Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary. Matt Ryan has never had two things as the starting QB of the Atlanta Falcons:
1. A consistent top 10 defense – only twice in his 11 seasons have the broken the top 15
2. An offensive line that could block
In 2018, Matt Ryan put up numbers similar to his 2016 MVP year despite being hit more than 100 times. Shoring up the offensive line was something that had to happen for the Falcons. By adding two high caliber first round picks to existing pro bowl players in Jake Matthews and Alex Mack, Matt Ryan will have the opportunity to set his feet instead of throwing on the run in 2019.
The Falcons also have an opportunity to do something never done before in NFL history – start five former first round picks on the offensive line if Jake Matthews, James Carpenter, Alex Mack, Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary all earn the nod. Currently, McGary is listed as the back-up LT, but is performing well in practice.
Predominantly Orange: Atlanta is hoping to make a return to the postseason. What do you believe will be the major factor in assuring that happens in 2019?
Dan Quinn getting his defense back to what they were at the end of 2016. Unbeknownst to Falcons fans at the time, Dan Quinn had taken over the defensive play calling after the bye week in 2016. Everyone saw a tremendous difference in the defense and that change was the shot in the arm that the franchise needed to make that run to the Super Bowl.
However, since then, scheme and injury issues have plagued the defense and Quinn stepping up and taking over that responsibility is going to go a long way in the Falcons not only returning to the playoffs but also winning the NFC South in 2019.
With players like Grady Jarrett, Deion Jones and Keanu Neal, the Falcons have the talent to be a Top 5 defense in the NFL, Quinn has to put together the right scheme in order to make that happen.
Predominantly Orange: Who has been the biggest surprise in Falcons training camp thus far?
Isaiah Oliver. He is a big fast corner out of your part of the country. The second year corner from Colorado has a lot of expectations on his shoulders in 2019. He is going to line up opposite Desmond Trufant as the other starting corner and teams are going to come after him.
Quinn and his teammates have raved about his improvements this off-season and he has had a great start to training camp making several great plays on the ball during the first week of camp. If Oliver can continue to develop and gain confidence this pre-season, he will have the opportunity to lead the NFL in pass break-ups and interceptions in 2019.
Predominantly Orange: What are you most excited for when it comes to the Hall of Fame game on Thursday?
Honestly, just having football back. I do not expect many starters to play on Thursday night and I wrote a piece making the case that Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, Deion Jones and Alex Mack should not play Thursday night.
I am hoping that Dan Quinn uses this fifth pre-season game in order to build much needed depth and that a couple of these young guys use it in order to make a name for themselves. There are not a lot of roster spots truly open on the roster and Thursday night could go a long way in determining whether a player makes the active roster or gets cut.
Predominantly Orange: Is there a player that not a lot of Broncos fans know about that could make an impact on Thursday for Atlanta?
The name that the Broncos fans should look out for on Thursday night is John Cominsky. He is just a rookie, but was taken in the fourth round out of Division II Charleston. Just four years ago he was a 205 lb option quarterback and is now 6’5 286 lb defensive end; though the Falcons believe that he is versatile enough to play several techniques on the defensive line.
I thought for sure coming into training camp that Cominsky was going to have a tough time making the active roster and that he was going to be the first player the Falcons try to hide on their practice squad, but he had a really good first week and will get a lot of snaps Thursday night.
If he continues to develop as he has, he will add depth to the Falcons active roster week one. He is one of the young players I talked about earlier needing this fifth pre-season game.
We want to thank Jeff for taking the time out to chat with us. If you would like to see the interview from Blogging Dirty’s point of view, you can view that one here.