Atlanta is finally on the fringe of playing real football with the ever important game three quickly coming up. Game three is usually the first time a team will actually game plan for their opponent and we get our longest look at the first teams. The position battles should be mostly figured out.
Basically, this will be as close to our regular season team as we are going to see. What should we be looking for on Saturday?
Oh yeah, the return of this guy.
Some Tony Gonzalez, and more, after the jump.
The return of Tony Gonzalez. Gonzo is going to be Gonzo. You can bet he will get a healthy number of targets and I expect him to catch those passes. Even with Roddy White out, I expect the return of Gonzalez to lead to less targets and opportunities for our wide receivers further down on the depth chart as well as Chase Coffman. Of course, with Roddy White out, it will be interesting to see who replaces him by starting outside. I think Harry Douglas should be staying put in the slot to practice where he will be in the regular season, meaning maybe Drew Davis may get a shot at starting in the base defense.
Can we stop Jake Locker…. running. I'm not sure any team is threatened by Jake Locker throwing the ball. He has a few nice passes in a game that are usually outweighed by awful accuracy on the rest of his throws. My biggest concern has been our inability to stop a mobile quarterback when they get on the move. I don't think our defense was studying game tape of Josh Johnson to prepare for the Bengals game but I wonder if our defense has the speed and the smarts to finally stop a quarterback from putting up lots of first downs against our defense.
Anyone know anything about Desmond Trufant? I have only noticed Trufant on a few plays this preseason. And those weren't really for good reasons. Our own Kevin wrote up rankings by Pro Football Focus showing Trufant had a forgettable first game, compared to a great showing by 2nd round pick Robert Alford. Last week looked to be more of the same, perhaps not as extreme, but still Trufant looking like "just a guy" with Alford looking like a big play guy. Hopefully Trufant gets enough reps to really figure him out. Or maybe Alford earned the job.
How is our offensive line? This game will be a great thermometer for the talent, or lack of, of our offensive line. The Titans have a pretty weak defensive line which should finally at least allow us a shot at a known commodity. The Bengals front seven may be the best in the NFL and they certainly looked it when our offensive line tried to block them. We managed fairly well against a re-tooled Ravens defense, so I'm still not sure if that was due to the Ravens personnel or our offensive line finally put it together. Really, we shouldn't have much trouble blocking the Titans.
What does everyone else want to see on Saturday?