FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons coach Mike Smith breaks down the Panthers for us:
Q: How much of Carolina’s offensive scheme comes from (offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski’s) days in San Diego and how much from his Cleveland days?
A: I think that there’s actually Cleveland and San Diego, but there’s also some Auburn-tinge to it as well in terms of that they run the read option, the read plays that their quarterback is familiar with. It’s been a challenge this week in terms of our preparation. It’s something that you don’t normally see and it’s very hard to simulate. But we’ve worked through it these three days and we look forward to going out there and trying to defend our turf.
Q: Carolina’s has been hit hard at linebacker, how’s the trio of Dan Conner (MLB), Jason Williams (WLB) and James Anderson (SLB) playing?
A: They lost the two players that you mentioned (Jon Beason and Thomas Davis) and the guys that have come in have come in and done a nice job. I think that they’re flying around. Ron (Rivera) and (offensive coordinator) Sean McDermott have done a really good job and we can see each and every week, they’re expanding their defensive repertoire. We’re somewhat familiar with it because of Sean’s time with Philadelphia. Of course, we’ve played Philadelphia the last couple of years.
Q: Have teams had success bracketing WR Steve Smith?
A: I don’t know that they do it exclusively. Again, based on the situation, teams have tried to roll their coverage that way, but he is their leading receiver. I think he’s having a really good start to the season and we know what kind of competitor he is. He creates all kind of issues. Normally, he lines up as the ‘X’ receiver, but they will move him around in different spots when they try to feature him and get him the ball.
Q: How often does Carolina use two tight end sets with Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen?
A: Quite a bit. What we call 12 personnel, the two tight end sets with one back. On first and second down, it is the most prevalent package and again that creates some issues because of the two tight ends. Both of them are very athletic. They’re moving both of them. They don’t have necessarily one guy who is playing the down tight end and one who’s moving. That will create issues for defenses in the front seven.
Q: How are they using the running back tandem of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart?
A: Both of those guys are big, strong and fast running backs and it’s about 50-50. I think you’re going to see one more in running situations and one more in passing situations. For the most part, we’ve got to make sure that we stop the run and that’s going to be our number one objective. We don’t want them to be able to run the football and last week, they got the run game rolling.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog