Good morning, everyone. We're now one day away from the big prime time tilt against the Cowboys, when the Falcons will attempt to improve their record to 8-0—bringing them halfway to an undefeated season.
Let's get right into today's headlines.
Falcons Know Playoffs Mean More Than Perfection
While the pursuit of perfection continues on Sunday, the Falcons are well aware (as they should be) that an undefeated record in the regular season means nothing if they don't hoist the Lombardi Trophy in February. It seems, from the interviews the players and coaches have given thus far, that the team isn't letting the pressure of having to win every week get to them. And that's certainly a good thing.
Dent, Peterson to Pick Up the Slack for Weatherspoon
As we discussed yesterday, Weatherspoon's void will need to be filled by the rest of the linebacker corps, primarily Stephen Nicholas and Akeem Dent. With the lethal Jason Witten lining up on the other side of the ball, Romo and the Cowboys could wreak havoc on our defense if the star tight end isn't contained.
"Akeem gets practice snaps when we are working on our (nickel) package during practice," Smith said. "He gets an opportunity to work there. The good thing is that he’s going to be playing the same role when he filled in for Stephen. He’s been trained for that spot."
Dirk Koetter a Big Reason for Falcons Early Success
Some good stuff from the AJC's Jeff Schultz. Our OC Dirk Koetter has been a major upgrade from Mike Mularkey, and that switch has been a big reason why Ryan and the offense has taken such a big step forward in 2012. I find it interesting that many of the "new" plays the Falcons are running this year have been in the playbook for the past five seasons, but have either been underutilized or ignored completely. I have to imagine the sections that include screen passes fall into one of those categories.
Tony Gonzalez is Mad at the Media
The media hasn't been giving the Falcons the recognition they deserve for their hot start, and that makes Tony Gonzalez angry.
"Is the national media making a big deal about us like they would if it was Philly, Green Bay or New England? No, they're not," Gonzalez told USA TODAY Sports Thursday. "We played Philly and beat them. And Philly was on TV all week."
Falcons a Perfect Example of What Garrett Wants from the Cowboys
The Falcons definitely aren't used to being a model of success, but that's exactly what they've become under Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith. I doubt that another organization has ever seriously thought "we want our franchise to operate like Atlanta's" before.
The Atlanta Falcons are disciplined, consistent, opportunistic, careful and successful no matter where they play, whether it’s their home field, "the parking lot or on the moon," as Garrett quipped last week.
Seven games into the 2012 season they’re also the only undefeated club in the NFL.
"I think all coaches and teams around the league would like to be in that situation," Garrett said Thursday.
Cowboys vs. Falcons: Three Key Matchups
The Dallas NBC affiliate provides a few keys to the game on Sunday. The matchup between Dirk Koetter and Rob Ryan is an intriguing one, in my opinion. The Cowboys and their third ranked pass defense are going to be prepared for Matt Ryan and the Falcons' air attack, perhaps forcing Atlanta to do some damage on the ground in order to move the football. I am concerned that the Falcons will struggle offensively if they fail to establish the run. Remember: Rob Ryan's Cover 2 formation effectively shut down Eli Manning several weeks ago. This might be the first time of the season when the Falcons truly need a potent rushing game.