Duke Riley is struggling. He hasn’t done anything but move heavy trucks in the offseason. Which is not helping anyone. Duke’s tackling is atrocious, and his play recognition is the practice squad level. He looked like a fish out of water when he was on the field last night. Duke was going up against the New York Jets backups and third strings, and still getting cooked. Yes, the backups. Duke needs to find a way to make adjustments. What happened yesterday may just be a bad game, but my eyes don’t fool me. Duke looked lost in yesterdays game. I’m going to highlight two areas Duke can get better at this season.


Duke Riley’s tackling is probably the worst I’ve ever seen from a pro linebacker. He whiffs so much it’s getting annoying. Duke needs to adjust like he did in college. Riley only started one year at LSU, but he shouldn’t have trouble tackling. I’m sure he’s been tackling people all his life so this skill should be instilled in him. You can’t just apply and get into LSU you have to have had some type of talent. I believe Duke hasn’t adjusted to the speed of the defenders in the National Football Leauge. He always seems a step late which is not a good sign. Tackling should not be an area of concern for a LINEBACKER, it’s not like this guy is a converted tight end.

Duke should be better at tackling at this stage in his career. The Falcons have to be worried. Duke is not 14, and they can’t go back to his peewee days to teach him how to tackle in the National Football Leauge. Riley’s tackling better improve if he wants to make this team. Being a terrible tackler when your a pro linebacker is like letting someone drive your car without a license; you can’t do it.

Play recognition

The last thing I want to touch on that I saw in last night preseason opener versus the Jets, is that Duke didn’t do a good job at all of recognizing a play and reacting to it. Riley coverage skills are practice squad. He doesn’t have the speed to cover in space and combine that with poor tackling that’s scary. You cant trust Duke in open space one on one he will whiff or get juked. Being able to cover as a linebacker in the National Football Leauge is what separates the good from the great. Duke has to get better at just reacting and stop thinking.

A play from last night’s game that stuck out to me. Basic crossing route that everyone in the National Football Leauge runs. Everyone in the stadium could see this play developing except Duke. He lets the crosser cross his face, and by the time Duke recognized what was going on Crowell already had an angle and scored. Duke is literally flat-footed for what seems like an eternity before he breaks and tries to tackle Crowell. He also looks like he’s running in mud, he’s so slow good gosh this kid smells like a bust. Duke should have seen the crosser and broke on the pass to intercept it, or even come up to lay a big hit just don’t let them score. Here is the play I was referring to.

Bottom Line

Duke was picked in the third round of last years draft, and Atlanta would love to have him in their future plans. Foye Oluokun is rising up the depth chart, and another performance like this from Mr. Riley will see him going down the depth chart. Riley is a liability, and no I’m not saying this from one game. Duke has played a full season and this is more than enough time to look better going into your second year. If your that guy, but I don’t see any improvements. If he keeps going down this path Duke Riley is going to be a BUST.



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