The Jacksonville Jaguars' passing offense fell flat as the Falcons sailed to a 31-12 victory in the fourth and final week of the 2019 NFL preseason.
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Former seventh-round draft pick Danny Etling was the only quarterback who saw the field for Atlanta on Thursday night. Etling had a decent if unremarkable night, characterized by conservative play. Of his 25 pass attempts, 17 traveled less than 10 yards downfield in the air. He finished the game having completed 15 of his 25 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown.
Second-year UDFA Ryan Neal had an excellent night in coverage, despite being frequently targeted by Jacksonville's passers. Neal broke up multiple passes and never gave up a reception longer than 11 yards, despite being thrown at more than any other Falcons defender. He showed good closing speed, coming up to tackle receivers quickly and limiting yards after the catch.
Chandler Miller played nearly the entire game at center and had an impressive night. The former Tulsa lineman generated movement in the run game while also holding up extremely well in pass protection. First-round draft pick Kaleb McGary also had a good night in his preseason debut. McGary held up well in both the run and pass game and will look to compete for a starting job going forward.
The Jacksonville passing attack failed to impress Thursday night, and it suggested that the team will be in dire straights should they lose Nick Foles to injury this season. Rookie sixth-round pick Gardner Minshew got the start and completed 11 of 26 passes for 79 yards (3.0 yards per attempt). Second-year player Alex McGough managed to average even fewer yards per attempt (2.6), though for the second week in a row, he did make a few nice plays with his legs.
It was a rough night for rookie defensive tackles Dontavius Russell and Andrew Williams. Both players struggled to generate pressure, and they got pushed around in the running game. They'll need to raise their level of play in order to compete for playing time on Jacksonville's very talented defensive line.
Tae Hayes has quietly had a good preseason, and Thursday night's game saw that trend continue. Hayes played considerably more snaps than he had in previous games and held his own in coverage as well as against the run. In coverage, Hayes was targeted four times and allowed two passes to be caught for a total of 25 yards.
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