Welcome, you dirtiest of birds, to this week’s edition of Bird Watch. In this weekly segment, we will provide you a list of people, places or things which we have our eyes on.
Whether it be due to poor performance, a bad feeling or the need for an individual to RISE UP, the members of this list had better tread lightly, because we will be watching.
I could write a couple of paragraphs with some lame jokes and more than a couple of puns about San Diego this week. Or, like a teacher who’s “just not feeling it today,” I can let y’all watch a video to get the same message across. (Caution: language may not be suitable for children)
Well said, Ron. Well said.
The pass rush: After beating out Denver’s vaunted pass rush in the sack department, it was painfully clear which defense was better at getting to the quarterback in Seattle. Nobody will be confusing Phillip Rivers with even a hobbled Russell Wilson (for several reasons) anytime soon, so Atlanta’s defensive linemen need to get home. If this game becomes the aerial fireworks show that the media has promised me, then the pass rush needs to be bloodthirsty and ready to go.
Mohamed Sanu: Brought into Atlanta to become the Falcons No. 2 receiver, Sanu, affectionately referred to as “Mo,” is currently third on the team behind Julio and Tevin with 242 receiving yards. It’s fair to note that he was banged up for the first few games, but that should be a thing of the past now. Sanu was targeted 10 times against Seattle, including several times late in the game, and caught only half of his passes. On the season, he has caught just under 60 percent of the passes thrown his way. For Atlanta’s offense to be better – I can’t believe I just wrote that either – Sanu needs to be more effective and make plays. Basically what I’m saying is: Mo, we just need a little mo out of you.
Jake Matthews and Ryan Schraeder: The Falcons’ offensive tackles looked solid to start the season, but it’s not unlikely that they are still having nightmares of the Seahawks’ defenders. After a rough outing, Matthews and Schraeder have the opportunity to rebound. Rookie defender Joey Bosa will likely face both tackles, but it’s Schraeder who could match up with him the most. Bosa has looked solid in his first couple of games, but he’s nowhere near the level that Cliff Avril or Michael Bennett are. Still, it’s important that Matthews and Schraeder keep Matt Ryan upright on Sunday.
Austin Hooper: One of the backburner storylines that will unfold on Sunday is the “non-official, but everyone will be keeping track of it anyway, even the players and if they say it doesn’t matter they are totally lying,” competition between rookie tight ends Austin Hooper and Hunter Henry. Hooper has been a nice addition this season and has 154 receiving yards and a touchdown. Henry has doubled that output, however, and has 310 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns. Now, it’s a well-known fact that all of the Atlanta players read this weekly piece; so, Hoop, here are all of the things written before the draft about how everyone wanted Henry in Atlanta. There’s your motivation. Show us why the Falcons made the right choice.
The refs: Look, I’m not going to say that the refs messed up that call in Seattle. I’m not going to say that there looked like some favorable officiating for the home team. I’m not going to tell the refs that they need to rise to their feet and stop performing an oral activity on a sporting competition. I’m not going to make a notable comparison between the referees and Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder. I won’t say any of those things.
Fans attending the game: Atlanta defenders received a tremendous opportunity to see Dan Quinn’s vision for the defense up close in last week’s game. What should have stood out to the fans, however, was how ferocious that atmosphere was in Seattle. As someone who has lived in this city for basically my entire life, I know that traffic is second only to Sherman on the list of hated things. But Sunday isn’t a 1 o’clock game, it’s a late-afternoon kickoff. Meaning you should have plenty of time to go to church, get some brunch, sit in traffic, drink a beverage in the parking lot and have your but in a seat by 3:45.
New Orleans Saints: We hate them, and they hate us. I have it on good authority that Sean Peyton is the brother-in-law of the official who didn’t throw the flag on Richard Sherman. Despicable.