I recall cut day from middle and high school the coach would post a list of players that made the team outside his door we would cautiously approach then all smiles. But not for everyone, I wonder what It’s like at the highest level of your sport. Players have played this game since the third grade been one of the best on the field.
Now it’s not good enough to be one of the best you have to be the best of the best. For some, they don’t know life without cleats and a helmet next season always came after tonight there are no guarantees. This final preseason game doesn’t matter to most however it’s paramount to players dreaming of making an NFL Roster. It’s more important than the SuperBowl.
It’s the lifeblood into the NFL or shall I say the Brotherhood. In February the spotlight of the world will be on the SuperBowl here inside of Mercedes Benz Stadium. In this final preseason game, the microscope is on you. A dropped pass, a missed assignment, a lackluster effort could mean your football life. With the roof on the $1.6 Billion structure open perhaps someone’s prayers will be answered.
Under the NFL’s new format of one cut from the 90 man roster to 53 they had all preseason including four games with limited reps to impress versus what appeared to be a weekly roster reduction, it certainly improves the chances for a longshot. At least they had the opportunity to redeem themselves after a bad day.
Both teams held out the starters as usual and took a good look at the undercard. They wanted to see their bubble quarterbacks. Miami behind Brock Oswiller scored on their first two possessions. He was impressive 6-6-65 yards on their first drive that lasted 10 plays 75 yards 5:13. He followed that up with an 8 plays 55 yards drive that ended with K Ballage scoring on a 9-yard run.
Meanwhile, Atlanta started Kurt Benkert, the rookie out of Virginia who showed good escape ability but not much more in his extended playing time. Chris Lammons, a rookie defensive back out of South Carolina, probably made the most important play of his career an interception in the second quarter. Terrance Magee made a fumble recovery.
Malik Williams rookie running back from Louisville eluded 6 Dolphin players to get the Falcons on the scoreboard with an 8-yard bull run. He was impressive with his determination and effort can’t say he made the team, but he should make the discussion. It certainly came at the right time.
Dan Quinn On how Malik Williams played:
“He was one of the guys that provided some energy where he jumped a guy, I thought he had another physical run. So that’s the big back that we were hoping to see when we saw him coming out of Louisville, to lower his shoulder and gain extra yards and tough contact, so that was encouraging for us tonight to see that.”
Miami dominated the first half 24-7.
On the flip side, Benkert threw an interception to start the second half if he gets cut perhaps that play will haunt him. He finished the game 10-25-103 yards with 2 interceptions and a terrible QBR rating 19.2 His competition for the third quarterback spot connected on 2 passes out of 6 attempts for 6 yards in about one-quarter of play.
Defensive tackle Garrison Smith who played the last two seasons in Seattle turned in a sack perhaps that’s the play that will earn him favor. At this stage, it’s about making a play doing something that sticks in the minds of the coaches. Linebacker Emmanuel Ellerbee did just that by producing 9 total tackles 7 solo, 3 for loss.
For a do or die game it didn’t seem to be a lot of effort, players didn’t look hungry, it was more like going through the motions and hoping for the best. Head coach Dan Quinn said in his opening statement
“obviously not the night that we wanted and not the energy that is needed, and certainly not the energy that our fans deserve. That being said, over the next few days, we’ve got some tough decisions to make regarding final roster spots as well as some practice squad opportunities for guys here, and sometimes in a game like tonight, there’s good consequences and bad ones.”
He went on to say “ there wasn’t a lot I was taking from the sideline that made me feel really encouraged by some of the performances tonight.”
Miami won the game 34-7, but it wasn’t about which team won it was about who won a spot It’s time for NFL Teams to get lean and trim 37 players from the roster.