Each week we try to get inside the heads of the opposite side. This week I talked with William Huseth, who is the lead editor at Blogging Dirty. (Blogging Dirty is Fanside.com’s blog that covers the Atlanta Falcons.) After evading me like a hawk not wanting to be tamed by a dominant species, I was able to squeeze some insight on what the opposite side feels about Sunday’s match up.
Is the general consensus among Falcons fans that this is the easiest game they have had on their schedule so far?
WH: I wouldn’t say that at all. I think the Falcons felt their easiest game was going to be the contest against the Carolina Panthers. Carolina had looked awful in its last game on Thursday Night Football, so I think the Falcons absolutely overlooked them. After that, I think the Falcons learned their lesson about having an ‘easy’ opponent. The Washington Redskins won’t be an easy challenge. Containing RGIII and scoring on the road will be a challenge they will not underestimate.
Matt Ryan is already being mentioned in the same sentences as MVP. What, if anything, have you noticed that is different about him?
WH: Just his decisiveness. A lot was made about his increased strength training, and people were hoping it would help on deep passes. He’s always had a strong arm, but the strength training certainly didn’t hurt that attribute. But his decisiveness in the passing game has been the major difference. He sees his receiver open, he cuts the ball loose and trusts what he’s seeing and trusts his play makers to do what they do. Even if receivers are covered, he isn’t afraid to throw to his other receivers who are open, something he didn’t do much in the past. His decisiveness has been great so far.
The Falcons defense looks better this year thus far. What is the key to the Falcons playing better defense?
WH: New defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. The Falcons have some good play makers at all three defensive levels, but in the past they were resigned to playing a soft, vanilla Cover-2 defense. Nolan isn’t doing anything too exotic, but he is allowing the defenders to move around pre-snap, which confuses opposing offenses, and it really helps everyone go out and simply make plays. Giving more freedom to the players while keeping fairly simple defenses is really the key.
Tony Gonzalez is getting towards the end of his career and has mentioned this might be his last year. Is he still playing at a Pro-Bowl level?
WH: I would say so. 26 receptions, 265 yards, 3 touchdown grabs? He may not be your #1 with a bullet Pro-Bowl selection, but he certainly belongs in the conversation. He doesn’t have a huge yards per catch average (only 10.2), but he is second to none in the red-zone and when getting to the first down marker and just making the catch. He isn’t a monster, but he makes good things happen.
With Oakland coming into Atlanta next week, then the bye, are the Falcons resting on their laurels and ready to be surprised this week? How do you think the game will go?
WH: Absolutely not. I think the Falcons had a mini trap game last week against Carolina. This team almost got surprised and beaten, but if they take it one week at a time, which they will, they should be fine. There is no way they ‘rest on their laurels’. What laurels? There are still 12 games left in the season. Now they may lose this game outright. But it won’t be because they are overlooking the Redskins.
I say both teams mover the ball really well, the Falcons just are able to confuse Griffin one more time or come up with one more stop. Falcons 31- Redskins 24