Under pressure, that should be the theme song for the Falcons heading into Sunday's matchup with the Seahawks. Everyone wants to talk about how dire it is for Atlanta to pull off a playoff win this season, solely based on the fact that it hasn't happened under the current regime.
Is it affecting the Falcons? It doesn't seem that way. I was fortunate enough to be on the scene at Flowery Branch yesterday, and the atmosphere around the team was as upbeat as ever. The players actually seemed more relaxed than I've noticed in prior visits.
Most reporters posed questions about the pressure of the postseason and how it sits with guys like Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, etc. None of them showed any concern about blunders in the past. Why would they? It's behind them now. Knox Bardeen also wrote about the Falcons preparation and how the pressure isn't getting to them. We can safely say Atlanta will be ready for action when 1:00 p.m. rolls around on Sunday.
Here are a few notes I kept from yesterday's practice/locker room visit:
- When talking to Matt Ryan, DOL brought up the past three playoff losses, and how big plays have led to the game getting out of hand each time. Ryan said jokingly, "I hadn't thought about any of the three until you brought them up." Everyone else laughed too, it's cool. Ovie Mughelli was also on the scene working his new radio gig with CBS. He tried to bring up a more lighthearted matter in discussing Matt Ryan's wife and how she helps him prepare for games. Mughelli opened up with "I know your wife, she's a great women..." As everyone began to laugh again, he said "I'm going to a good place with this."
- Peter Konz is one of the funniest players on the team. He of course played with Russell Wilson at Wisconsin, so this was the main reason people wanted to interview him today. Konz said he was friends with Wilson and John Moffitt, but then told the media "I don't talk to my friends," when asked if he's discussed this weekend's matchup. Rookie trolling already.
- Sean Weatherspoon was asked how he and the defense will go about containing Russell Wilson. He said he couldn't give the details on that situation, and after being asked again he replied with, "We'll have some eyes on Wilson." A reporter said, "That's it?" Spoon said, "And some legs." That was his way of saying Russell Wilson is a primary focus of his, I think.
- Nearly the entire group of reporters and cameramen sat waiting in front of Roddy White's locker to wrap up the morning interviews. He didn't show for quite some time, and then came running by basically saying he wasn't talking to the media today. Not now, he's in the zone.
- Yesterday after practice Mike Smith said, "You can't concern yourself with things you don't have control over, so you've got to be focused." You have to admire Smitty's attitude, even in the midst of all the chaos and criticism surrounding the playoffs this weekend. The Falcons haven't won in the past. So what. Why should that matter this year?
I'm glad to see everyone is calm, yet focused on the task ahead.