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Five and Out With Falcons Blogger

I'd like to thank Dave the Falconer, a fellow Sports Blogs Nation writer over at The Falcoholic, for answering some questions regarding the Atlanta Falcons heading into this week's game. I encourage you to go over to his site and read the thoughts on this week's game from Atlanta's perspective. Also, later on today or tomorrow morning, I have a set of questions I answered that will be posted on Dave's site. Now, let's get to the questions I asked Dave, and how he responded...

1. When I've seen rookie running back Jerious Norwood in the game, I've really enjoyed his playmaking ability, especially over what T.J. Duckett provided. However, it seems as if he isn't being involved enough. Is this the case, or am I mistaken?

Dave the Falconer: "Norwood is essentially the mop-up back. He comes in when a change of pace is needed, when Dunn is tired, or when the game is basically over. In that sense, I would agree, he's not really getting a lot of carries. My sense is that the coaching staff is carefully grooming him for the moment when he takes over for Dunn, which could be as soon as a year or two down the line. Now, however, it looks like Norwood might be out for Sunday's game, so the Browns will be dealing with Marlion Jackson, an upright, between the lines type runner who probably won't tax them too much."

2. After Michael Vick's games against the Steelers and the Bengals in throwing the football, he had a lot of success, especially to his tight end Alge Crumpler. I have't jumped the gun yet, because I believe he had a good passing spurt once before during his career that only lasted a few games. Has Vick really improved, or is he on another spurt?

Dave the Falconer: "Vick hasn't improved so much as the play calling for him has improved. When he's stuck in the pocket as an upright passer, he's about as useful as a knife for eating grapefruit. When he's allowed to roll out and throw on the run, he makes fairly accurate throws. Last week, the Falcons again stuck him in the pocket (as did the Lions defense) and he got burned again. If he's rolling out and using his speed, he should be able to play a nice game against the Browns. If he's in the pocket again, I'm ready to say he hasn't improved enough to pull it off."

3. Just about any defense can sack Charlie Frye when they only bring their defensive line to rush the quarterback. How often and during what situations do the Falcons like to bring the blitz?

Dave the Falconer: "The Falcons are excellent at situational blitzes, normally. The Falcons love to send the rush across on short yardage situations, and they're adept at 2nd and 3rd down blitzes that use the superior speed of the front seven to their advantage. As the pass defense has increasingly become a problem, you can probably expect less blitzing and more dropping into coverage from the linebackers. If the Falcons are prudent about their blitz selection, I'd predict anywhere from two to five sacks of Frye on Sunday."

4. Atlanta's pass defense has obviously struggled this season, as they are ranked 31st in the league I believe. Will the loss of Kevin Mathis suffering a season-ending injury hurt much? How has safety Chris Crocker played, since he was a starter on the Browns last season?

Dave the Falconer: "Crocker's been the very definition of solid. Solid tackler, solid coverage guy, nothing standout or horrible about him. In essence, he's seemed anonymous, with the exception of a couple big plays on both ends of the spectrum. Losing Mathis would've hurt more if we hadn't just signed Lance Schulters, who despite his advancing age and a mild decline in skill is still a pretty good safety, especially to use as a backup. Nonetheless, the Browns have dangerous weapons in Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards, and if they can duplicate the kind of passing game the Lions had, the Falcons aren't likely to be able to put up enough resistance. DeAngelo Hall is very, very talented, however."

5. Remember the last time these two teams faced each other? The Browns won 22-14 I believe after stopping Warrick Dunn at the goal line, allowing Cleveland to actually advance to the playoffs out of no where four years ago. What's your take on this week's game?

Dave the Falconer: "Ah yes...the good old days. I have to say I'm reasonably confident the Falcons can win this game, if just because the Browns don't seem to be the most consistent team. That being said, the Lions have made me fearful of another upset, so I don't dare underestimate the Browns. However, it's clear that this is not the surprise playoff team of times past, and I don't anticipate Warrick Dunn being stopped regularly. If he is and Vick is in the pocket, the Falcons are probably in very real trouble. If the Falcons do what I expect and run the ball well, I'm saying a 28-17 game for the Falcons, give or take several points either way (I hate predictions)."

Dave the Falconer: "Best of luck to the Browns!"

Once again, I'd like to thank Dave for taking his time to answer these questions.