This week, we turned to Jess Root of Revenge of the Birds, who was kind enough to stop partying and cheering about the Arizona Cardinals having the best record in football long enough to answer our questions.
Dave Choate: The drop from Carson Palmer to Drew Stanton is obviously steep, and I'm hopeful the Falcons will be able to force Stanton into some mistakes. What are his strengths and weaknesses thus far in his starting stint, and how would you attack him as an opposing defense?
Jess Root: Well, early in the season, his knowledge of the offense, combined with his willingness to push the ball down the field to make plays and avoid turnovers were key. However, he has thrown three interceptions over the last two games and the offense has not scored a touchdown in seven quarters.
His strengths include fearlessness. He will take shots down the field, and he has not been in danger of turning the ball over that way. It is locking on to an underneath receiver that has been the trouble. He is mobile and he is tough.
His weaknesses? He is inconsistent. He isn't super accurate and he doesn't play calm like Palmer does. Sometimes that energy he plays with gets a little to tight.
Dave Choate: Andre Ellington always scares me, but he looks like a shell of himself right now. Can the ground game muster a big effort against a lousy Falcons run defense, or are things as grim as they've seemed over the last few weeks?
Jess Root: The potential is there. Ellington has been bothered all year with a foot injury and with no help in the running game. He is getting almost all the carries and the interior line has been bad. Losing Jonathan Dwyer changed things. He is getting more or less the touches he got last year, but with more playing time. The addition of Michael Bush should give an extra dimension of strength between the tackles. I am cautiously optimistic.
Dave Choate: The Cardinals have had Matt Ryan's number the last couple of seasons, and I saw the seven sacks piled up against Russell Wilson a week ago. How aggressive is this defense, and who does Ryan need to be watching out for both from the front seven and in that talented secondary?
Jess Root: This defense is SUPER aggressive. Todd Bowles is one of the best in the game. They will go after Ryan and will push him off his spot.
Dave Choate: What's the deal with Michael Floyd? He's a real talent, I would have loved to have him on the Falcons, but he seems to go in and out of the gameplan week-by-week. Should we expect to see a lot of him?
Jess Root: I don't know what to expect from Floyd. It was a year ago I said Floyd was officially the team's top wideout. That's definitely the case. After Bruce Arians lamented designing more plays to get Floyd open, it leads one to believe there will be opportunities for Floyd.
Dave Choate: Injuries are obviously an issue for this Cardinals team, but you guys have an impressive record and plenty of talent. What are your expectations for this game, this season and the team's near future?
Jess Root: We expect a win against a team on the road. Arizona needs this and the fact that Atlanta is already one-dimensional to begin with offensively plays into the Cards defensive game plan. Beyond this year, the team will expect to be in the mix for the postseason, but looking forward, they need to get a future QB to lead them after the days of Carson Palmer.