This week we’re joined by Dave from The Falcohilic a great Falcons blog from the SB Nation Network.
After last year’s 11-5 breakthrough, do you think this year’s team is ready to take the next step and contend for the NFC title?
I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Our schedule is a bit tougher this year and the defense hasn’t taken a quantum leap forward. I do think we can contend for the NFC South crown even with the Saints’ hot start, but I think we’re going to fall a little short of the conference title. As Falcons fans, we’d all be pretty happy just to break our 40+ streak of futility, seeing as how we’ve never had back-to-back winning seasons.
Has there been any talk down there about Matt Ryan’s big homecoming this weekend? How has he progressed in his second year?
He looks fantastic so far. Ryan’s put up 5 touchdowns versus only 1 interception and a 68.3 completion percentage, and he’s been absolutely punishing teams that are focusing on stopping Michael Turner. We actually haven’t been talking about it too much, because he’s escaped the frozen tundras of the north and he’s Atlanta’s own now. We don’t dwell on the past!
Who is someone that perhaps we haven’t heard much of up here, but should keep an eye on?
You’re going to want to watch out for Kroy Biermann. He didn’t do a ton last weekend, but against the Dolphins the pass-rushing specialist had two sacks, and the Falcons are going to focus heavily on pressuring Tom Brady. You may not have heard of this Tony Gonzalez guy either, but he’s pretty good.
He’s just a rookie, but how big a loss is Peria Jerry to the Falcons defense? Who will take his place?
It’s a significant loss. At that spot on the defensive line, nobody else has Jerry’s combination of pass rushing talent and power against the run, so the Falcons will turn to a rotation to get the job done. That should be enough to get by, but starting rookie defensive tackles who play well don’t grow on trees. Thomas Johnson will play a lot against the run, Trey Lewis more against the pass and rookie Vance Walker will rotate in a few snaps a game.
If you were putting together a game plan to beat the Falcons, what areas would you attack?
I would try to knock down Matt Ryan. Our offensive line has done a great job of protecting him and he has too many weapons if you let him stand there and sling the ball. Turner must be stopped, too, but keying on him only makes things easier for Ryan. It’s a tough offense to stop.
On the defensive side of the ball, our secondary has been having some issues. I expect to see you guys pass all day long, and that’s probably the best strategy.
Here’s to a good game on Sunday!