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Getting to Know the Enemy: The Falcoholic Talks Atlanta's Unknown Defense and Close Games

I was pleased to be joined by Dave the Falconer from The Falcoholic, our Atlanta Falcons affiliate, to preview Sunday's game. Dave talks about Atlanta fans reacting to Michael Vick's re-birth, Michael Turner's slow start, who is featured on defense, and more.

Chris: "How have fans of the Atlanta Falcons reacted to the "re-birth" of Michael Vick in Philadelphia? Between Vick, Matt Schaub, and Matt Ryan, it must be nice that the Falcons have "farmed" three solid quarterbacks (all while Cleveland is still searching for one after all these years)."

Dave: "Honestly, it depends on who you ask. Some genuinely hate him, even though he seems to be a different man than the one who left the Falcons in shambles behind him. Others genuinely love him, no matter how many stories come to light of him not really giving a crap during his time in Atlanta.

I fall somewhere in the middle. I bear the guy no ill will in his future, but I'm also not going to forget what happened in 2007. I'm happy with our quarterback situation now, but you're right: It's pretty remarkable how the Falcons managed to draft and develop three talented quarterbacks.

You're welcome to Schaub!"

Chris: "Through four games, Michael Turner's stat-line isn't as impressive as it has been the past two seasons. Has the Falcons' running game gotten a little weaker this year?"

Dave: "Overall, no. Jason Snelling has picked up the slack in a big way. The tandem is tough to deal with for four quarters, since they're both big, bruising backs. As an overall rushing attack, the Falcons are doing just fine.

We're all a little concerned about Turner. There have been blocking issues and our offensive coordinator tends to send him to the same side over and over again, but he just hasn't been as efficient. Hopefully he'll get untracked against you guys."

Chris: "I'll be honest -- while I feel I know a lot of defensive players on teams around the league besides the Browns, for some reason I feel like I don't have a good "feel" for any of Atlanta's defensive players. If you had to pick your best defensive lineman, best linebacker, and best defensive back, who would they be?"

Dave: "Our best defensive lineman is probably Jonathan Babineaux. He's one of the most underappreciated defensive tackles in the league, a guy who can stop the run and rush the passer with equal talent.

Our best linebacker is Curtis Lofton. Aside from Patrick Willis, I can't think of a middle linebacker I'd rather have. He's young, excellent against the run and he's really developing into a more complete player with a sack and a pick in 2010.

Our best defensive back is harder to call. Too early to say that Dunta Robinson's that guy, so I'll continue to go with safety Thomas DeCoud despite a slow start. He's a very complete player and our coaches considered him the team's defensive MVP a year ago."

Chris: "After playing only five games with Atlanta last year, kicker Matt Bryant held down the starting role this year and has now kicked game-winning field goals in the Falcons' past two games. Are fans worried that the final outcome of those games (particularly against the 49ers) came down to last-second wins, or are they content with, "a win is a win?""

Dave: "I think it's natural to be a little concerned about it, but this is the NFL. Any team is capable of showing up and playing a game to the wire, even ones as shaky as the 49ers. If you had asked me this same question in pre-season with Matt Bryant struggling to hit any of his kicks, I probably would've hit the panic button.

I'll go with a win is a win, especially against you guys. You're much scrappier than you're given credit for."

Chris: "Jake Delhomme has had a lot of experience facing the Falcons, and from what I've heard he hasn't done too bad against them. From what you remember in the past, particularly last year, why was Delhomme successful against Atlanta's defense?"

Dave: "Delhomme has always been able to air it out when needed, and until recently was able to make precision throws. He was bolstered by having Steve Smith and Mushin Muhammad to throw to, and having a strong ground game to open things up through the air.

I may be mistaken, but aside from the ground game it doesn't appear Delhomme has the same advantages in Cleveland. He's also gotten interception happy over the last couple of seasons, and the Falcons' formerly woeful secondary is greatly improved this season. They actually lead the league in picks. Should be an interesting battle to watch."

Once again, I'd like to thank Josh for taking the time to answer my questions.