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Bird Watch: Tampa Bay Edition

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Putting the Birds on blast.

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Hello and welcome, you dirtiest of birds, to our inaugural 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 football season is here at last, and the Falcons kick things off with a not-so-friendly rivalry game against Florida’s third-most popular NFL franchise. Historically, Atlanta is 22-23 against the Creamsicle Pirates, and that just ain’t right.

It’s time to start 2016 on a positive note and throw Jameis Winston and his crew overboard (Enough with the pirate jokes, you say? Yeah, that’s fair).

So, without any further ado – and in no particular order – here are the birds we are watching closely.

Matt Ryan & Kyle Shanahan: These two have a permanent spot on this list until further notice. A lot of offseason talk was dedicated to how Ryan and Shanahan have worked together for the good of the team, but we need to see that carry over to the field. For all of the talk indicating otherwise, Ryan is still a very good quarterback, but his cold streaks last season give a whole new meaning to the nickname "Matty Ice." As for Shanahan: Well, you’re just on thin ice, brother.

Mohamed Sanu: Seven million dollars. That’s what Sanu will make in his first season with the Falcons. You know what seven million dollars can buy? It could buy you 1.4 million cheeseburgers at the new Mercedes Benz Stadium. Heck, you could buy every item at the concession stands 166,666 times. You could put a big dent in the PSLs that have yet to be sold. And last, but not least, you could buy an entire roster's worth of ACTUAL falcons. You better be worth 53 falcons, Mr. Sanu.

Pass rush: At this point, we don’t care if Dan Quinn himself has to come running and screaming off of the sideline to take the quarterback to the ground. We will gladly take a 15-yard penalty to see what it looks like for an opposing quarterback to get put on his back. Okay, we’re kidding about the penalty (sort of), but get it done, pass rush. Related: If anyone happens to find Vic Beasley, kindly point him towards Jameis Winston.

Deion Jones & De’Vondre Campbell: The future of Atlanta’s defense may very well include these two right in the middle. They’re rookies, yes, so expect some growing pains. All we’re asking for are some flashes of brilliance to help make the mistakes more bearable.

Mike Smith: He’s not a Falcon anymore, but there’s at least the possibility that he takes time during the pre-game warmups to sneak into the PA booth and remind fans in the Georgia Dome one last time that HIS TEAM WAS TOUGH. Don’t be that ex, Mike. It’s over, let’s just get through this with some dignity.

Samuel L. Jackson: Look, Sam – May I call you Sam? Samuel? Mr. Jackson? Nick Fury? – Well, I don’t know if you’ve heard, Nick Fury, but Dan Quinn is ready to bring some intensity back to the Georgia Dome. So, however many choir members you had last year for your "Rise Up" videos, you need to at least triple it. We need those angelic voices rising up to the heavens come Sunday. And, if you want to assemble the Avengers, that might not be such a bad idea.

New Orleans Saints: Let’s be honest, we’ve always got our eyes on this bunch.