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Bird Watch: Oakland Edition

Putting the birds on blast.


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.

The 2016 season didn’t begin the way many had hoped, but there is still plenty of time to go 15-1. That begins this Sunday when the Falcons travel to Oakland to face the Raiders.

Now, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary has provided us with an interesting definition of the term "Raider."

- A person who suddenly and unexpectedly attacks a place or group

- A person who enters a place in order to steal or take something

- A person who tries to take control of a business by buying a lot of its stock

Let’s break this down. This weekend’s matchup has been on the books or quite some time, so it shouldn’t be considered "sudden" or "unexpected." We are playing in Oakland, so we are entering their place. Technically, that makes Atlanta the raiders in this situation. The third definition is just pure evil, but I’m sure Arthur Blank wouldn’t mind getting rid of a few PSLs.

So, now that we’ve already taken their nickname from them, let’s find out – in no particular order – which birds we are watching closely.

Matt Ryan and Kyle Shanahan: Neither had a bad week last week, but will continue to have a spot on this list until they prove otherwise. Shanahan’s offenses still fall short in the red zone (more on that in a bit) and I’m not sure he would draw up a jump ball to Julio if there was literally a stepladder for him to climb in the corner of the end zone. Ryan looked good in the no-huddle offense, no surprise there, but it’s not likely that will become the modus operandi moving forward.

Red zone offense: Historically, Shanahan’s offenses move the ball well between the 20-yard lines but fail to punch it in by the goal line. I’m starting to think that it doesn’t have as much to do with Shanahan himself as it does with the term "red zone." Traditionally, the color red means stop. So, Shanahan isn’t a bad coordinator, he’s just a law-abiding citizen who doesn’t want to break the rules. #GreenZone.

Vic Beasley: When I was a kid, we bought a puppy that I really wanted to teach some tricks. I started with the basics like sitting and fetching but then wanted to teach her how to roll over. Once I finally managed to teach her how to roll over, she forgot all of the other tricks and would just roll on the floor for hours at a time. What does this story have to do with Vic Beasley? Nothing, except that they both like spinning around all day and have had equal success rushing the passer this season.

Run blocking: I understand that Tampa Bay’s defensive front seven is basically a combination of the ‘85 Bears and the Steel Curtain, but that just means the running game should be in much better shape moving forward. I mean, if Atlanta can gain 52 yards on the ground against a defense similar to 85 steel bear curtains, then our rushing attack is solid, right? RIGHT?!?

Dan Quinn: After starting 5-0, Quinn is 3-9 as Atlanta’s head coach. Many around the league believe that Quinn has what it takes to be a good coach in this league, and his defense did look faster running to miss tackles on Sunday. He’s a positive presence in the Falcons’ locker room, but an 0-2 start might change that just a bit. At least, I hope it does.

Tackling: I’m just going to leave this here…

Amari Cooper: Sure, Mr. Cooper was a decent receiver for Alabama, but he’s no Julio Jones. In fact, if there was a scientific scale to measure wide receiver success at Alabama, it would be measured in "Juliocity." As in, "The Juliocity of Amari Cooper was .6 Julios." You hear that, Amari? You’re only 60 percent as good as Julio is, and you’re about to find out why.

New Orleans Saints: They lost to Oakland last weekend in tremendous fashion. Let’s earn some early bragging rights via the transitive property.