With the Arizona Cardinals second game of the season a day away, we caught up with Dave from SB Nation's The Falcoholic blog to get a perspective on the game from Atlanta. Dave was kind enough to provide his expertise and answer five questions about what to expect from the Falcons as they try to improve from their week 1 loss to the Steelers.
1) What was the biggest thing you learned about the Falcons in week 1's overtime loss to the Steelers?
I learned that we're not there yet. The Falcons are a team that have never quite been able to put together a dominant defense and an explosive offense at the same time, and the team's sputtering offensive effort against a tough Steelers D indicates that they're not quite at an elite level.
That said, I think the defense was better than it's been in years in that single game, and the offense is too good to keep down for long. We may just be "there" by the end of the season.
2) From the sounds of it, the Falcons are having some issues in their secondary. Do they have enough talent at the position to keep up with the Cardinals talented --albeit somewhat depleted-- receiving corps?
It's going to be an interesting battle. The Falcons would be wise to have a safety cheat over on Larry Fitzgerald and give Dunta Robinson some help. Even Darrelle Revis would have difficult containing Fitz.
After that, Brent Grimes and Chris Owens match up pretty well with Steve Breaston and Stephen Williams. Grimes is a ballhawk who will try to cut in on Breaston and hopefully shake him up, and Owens is a very physical corner despite his size who will stick to Williams like glue when he's asked to. We're certainly not going to fully contain your guys, but I like to think the talent exists to limit the damage.
3) The Falcon's running game only earned 58 yards in 23 rushes last week. Was it because of Pittsburgh's defense or was it internal problems and do you expect more yards versus the Cardinals?
Basically, it was Pittsburgh's defense. The Steelers have one of the toughest run Ds in the league. Michael Turner looked a little tentative and the offensive line was bad, but at the core you can blame the defense.
That said, I'm not taking your D lightly. I don't expect Turner to average seven yards a carry or anything ridiculous like that. He'll certainly get a hell of a lot closer to 100 yards against the Cardinals, though it may take 20-25 carries.
4) Head coach Mike Smith said he was upset and demand improvement at every position. Was it really that bad and how much improvement do you expect in week two?
Well, again, we were facing a top defense. I think Mike Smith was frustrated with the offense and decided to pick on the defense a little, too.
I expect considerable improvement. Again, I'm not taking you guys lightly. The Cardinals are still a good team, even with the world's most imperfect quarterback under center. But the Falcons are going to be out for blood and your D just isn't at Pittsburgh's level yet. There will be improvement, and our defense should hold its own.
5) Who is one player that Cardinals fans might not be aware of who they will know after Sunday?
I always go with Kroy Biermann. He's developing into one of the nastier pass rushing defensive ends in the NFC, piling up three sacks in the pre-season and one against the Steelers. He's very quick and has a way of getting under and around blockers, so I'm sure you'll hear his name a couple of times this weekend.