The Great Battle of the South – Falcons @ Saints

Six Searing Questions as the Battle Awaits

Are Snelling and Co. Ready? (C.Compton/AJC)

Well, here it is Bird fans…The Great Battle of the NFC South begins on Sunday in New Orleans. No disrespect to the Carolina Panthers or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but right now the major fight for the division will kickoff between the Falcons and Super Bowl Champion Saints. The old adage goes if you want to be the best, than you have to beat the best. New Orleans had an unbelievable run in 2009 which ended with the Saints hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. The Falcons played very well against New Orleans in both games last year and almost came out on top, but almost doesn’t win championships or hang banners. After all the hype and talk, are the Falcons really ready for primetime? Six searing questions as the Birds travel down to the city of Mardi Gras……

1) Can the Falcons Pressure Brees the Great?

It’s always so easy to talk about when playing the Saints: just pressure quarterback Drew Brees and you stop the high-flying offense. Well, many teams try to pressure Brees and get burnt up and down the field. One of his best qualities is being able to get rid of the football and make something out of nothing. The Falcons have added speed, toughness, and athleticism on the defense, but the true test awaits on Sunday. Thomas DeCoud showed he could add pressure and Spoon may be able to add some as well, but the big test will be whether Babineaux, Biermann, Abraham, Jerry, Peters, and Anderson can put pressure on Brees the Great. If they can the results may be good. But its much easier said than done.

2) Will Ryan Finally Hit the Deep Ball Rhythm?

After not attempting hardly any deep threats against Pittsburgh, the offense tried several deep balls against the Arizona Cardinals. Even though Ryan and Harry Douglas didn’t hook up in the deep attacks, the routes were there and Ryan just overshot both throws. So much for the weak arm argument. The deep ball is something that takes most QB’s in the NFL to perfect. Douglas is the perfect long ball threat to complement Roddy White. To take advantage of the Saints aggressive and opportunistic defense, minus Darren Sharper, will be to finally connect on the deep passing attack.

3) Is the Secondary Ready for Their Real Test?

Can Owens Stay on Saints Slot? (C.Compton/AJC)

Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, and Heath Miller stretched the Falcons secondary enough for the win, but they kept them under control pretty well save for a few long 3rd down conversions. The Falcons then held arguably the best receiver in the NFL in Larry Fitzgerald under 100 yards and no touchdowns (even though he’s not at full speed). Steve Breaston had a great first week, but was shut down cold against the Birds. A new animal awaits on Sunday. Forget about the Falcons secondary facing the Super Bowl MVP on Sunday and focus only on the receiving corps. Can Dunta Robinson lock up Marques Colston? Can Brent Grimes keep Robert Meachem under control? Will Christopher Owens keep up with Devery Henderson? The list goes on and on. The newly revamped defense awaits the test of the year in New Orleans.

4) Can Turner-Snelling Control the Game?

Another way to win against he Saints is to play ball control and keep Brees and the offense on the sidelines. Although not truly complementary to one another, Michael Turner and Jason Snelling might be one of the best running back tandems (at least potentially) in the league. Before tweaking his groin, Turner was off to a great start and looked like The Burner of old hitting the hole hard and moving forward. Jason Snelling nabbed the NFC Player of the Week award, and deservedly so with his performance against the Cardinals. Obviously, the Falcons offensive line will play a huge part against Sedrick Ellis, Will Smith, and Co. as well, but a heavy dose of grind it out, ball control, smash-mouth football could definitely put the Falcons in a great position.

5) Will Birds Take Advantage of Bush’s Absence?

Can Roddy Continue His Hot Start? (C.Compton/AJC)

AJC Writer D. Orlando Ledbetter had an interesting article about the Saints being 7-1 against the Falcons since drafting Reggie Bush in 2006. Of course, 2007 was pretty much a wash with that trainwreck of a season. They played tough last year in both games, won one at home in 2008, and could have won the away game in 2008 as well. Reggie Bush did play a large role in last year’s games in that he made tons of 3rd down conversions when everything else seemed covered. He also scored a couple of touchdowns and showed a huge mismatch with the Falcons linebackers last year. Peterson shown a new spark, Weatherspoon is off to a great start, and Lofton seems to be making the jump to a play-making linebacker. Stephen Nicholas is also good in coverage along with having speed to pressure. The Falcons and their fans shouldn’t underestimate the Saints without Reggie Bush because Pierre Thomas and Lyndell Hamilton are both excellent backs running the ball and out of the backfield. The linebackers could make a statement on Sunday.

6) Can the Falcons Actually Take the Step?

Enough of the “coulda, woulda, shoulda’s.” Enough of the “they played them really tough both times last year, but still lost.” Enough will all the talk about all the moves and how the defense has been revamped and is more athletic. Enough of all the talk about how the offense is in its third year and is ready to take the next step. The Falcons have a huge opportunity to make a statement against the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints on their own field. For all the talk about how things are “supposed” to go for the Falcons challenging the Saints this year, will they finally do it?

Your Turn

-Can the Falcons actually do it against the Saints?

-Will the Birds deep defensive line pressure Brees?

-Is this the game where Ryan gets down the deep ball?

-Are the Falcons secondary ready for their big test?

-Will Turner and Snelling control the game?

-Is Reggie Bush’s absence that big a deal?

-After all’s said and done, can the Falcons actually do the deed?

1,092 comments Add your comment

SARAH

September 23rd, 2010
9:32 pm

Sarah B

September 23rd, 2010
9:36 pm

JJ

September 23rd, 2010
9:40 pm

Sarah B

September 23rd, 2010
9:44 pm

D3 after watching Monday night the answer to #1 is: If we bring it up the middle we will prevail. And yes Turner-Snelling will be huge. Yes they will miss Bush. I hope so on the long ball and finally Yes we can bring it! Let’s just hope the officials are not on NO’s payroll this time around. Let’s all remember the bogus PI call reversing our INT last year.

D3

September 23rd, 2010
9:44 pm

Whaddup JJ and Sarah B. — Hope you guy and gal are doing well. Any plans for Sunday watching?

Falcons-Saints — I’m feeling pretty confident, but not over-confident one bit on this game. I know we showed up and played really well in two games last year……but we still lost. It’s time for the talk to stop and do the deed in New Orleans. Otherwise, its the same ol’, same ol’ until we prove differently.

Sarah B

September 23rd, 2010
9:50 pm

D3 hanging here at the house then grilling babyback ribs post-game; Hopefully very happy.

JJ

September 23rd, 2010
10:01 pm

D3, great post as always. Spoon and Duanta(sp) were brought in just for the saints. Hopefully they will contain and get us off the field on 3rd downs. Did anyone notice the video clip they’ve been showng all week about vick? It shows a scramble then pass to Desean who runs it in? The video also shows our fav. #23 (robinson) in blown coverage. Once again, thank you detroit!

Coop, Always respect your opinion. Although I’ve been on the spoon train, your opinions are what makes this cage the best. Plus, hats off to all you falcon fanatics (coop, box, unca’bob) who follow your team and participate in this blog all the while not seeing every game(out of state). You guys are the definition of true falcon fans!

Cane Pole

September 23rd, 2010
10:07 pm

The Falcons have a huge hill to climb ,but I think they can win .How nervous will they be when they start , can they avoid the flag , and can they over come turnovers . If they play like they did last Sunday I think they win by at least one TD . But they ant playing the cards (without a QB) and they ant at home That being said the Falcons have got to bring there game ,the best they can give and yes they will win. if they do this .

pritdapit

September 23rd, 2010
10:08 pm

i need more comments to read =/

Sports Review

September 23rd, 2010
10:40 pm

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Screen Pass

September 23rd, 2010
10:47 pm

Nice article D3. You should really be getting some notice for your work here in the cage. You and DOL do a great job on Falcon coverage. Coming from a stickler for details like myself, please take it as the true compliment that it is. It has been suggested some are complaining about how things are going, especially in regards to the drafting of Spoon. Anyone still interested can look thru the archives for my opinion on the past draft if it matters that much.I would like move on from the last draft and worry about the future, who just happens to be Spoon. How the Spoonman handles Brees and co in the short passing game will dictate a large part of the outcome of the upcoming game. If he “rises up” and contains Brees outlet pass options then NO will have a really long painful day. The other if, if M Mularkey brings his A game and the offense can execute. IF we can achieve those two things this will not only be a victory but NO will be taken behind the toolshed. I see our running game crushing NO at will, throw in a few screens and this game is ours.

Box

September 23rd, 2010
10:52 pm

JJ,
Thanks for the props. Even with such a great Division rival game, we’ll still probably get stuck with the Cowgirls. I do watch all of the games on NFL Rewind.

ATLJBO

September 23rd, 2010
11:08 pm

Should be a really good game… I was surprise we didnt get any props in the media (espn and nfl network) for blowing out the Cards…. This win will make everyone pay attention to the Falcons.

Sarah B

September 24th, 2010
12:22 am

D3 did you have a meet up in mind? I could be swayed…

Box

September 24th, 2010
12:42 am

Sarah,
Hey! How goes it?

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September 24th, 2010
1:46 am

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September 24th, 2010
5:25 am

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Samuel

September 24th, 2010
6:29 am

If they, the Falcons can get a spark and get off to a fast start anything is possible. The main thing is don’t beat yourself. You must have intensity for four quarters…

WR

September 24th, 2010
7:08 am

Morning cage, big game on tap this weekend and I believe the birds will be up for the challenge. Colston is their best receiver and I believe the secondary can handle him, Meachem, and Henderson. But as someone said earlier stopping Thomas will be key. If the Falcons stop or at least contain Thomas, it will force the Saints into being a more one dimensional team which then will allow the birds to bring the variety of blitzes that Vangorder has been working on, pressure is key. I’m not speaking about the birds O much because I believe the O overmatches the Saints D, so yes, this will be the game to see where the D stands.

WR

September 24th, 2010
7:10 am

FFL note, JJ, we’re never scared, we haven’t even put the Finches on our radar, but we do have a skillet of hot grease ready if the finches plan on causing any kind of trouble.

[...] The Great Battle of the South – Falcons @ Saints | Atlanta Falcons … [...]

JJ

September 24th, 2010
7:17 am

lol, tu chez.

WHO-DAT

September 24th, 2010
9:10 am

From the WHO-DAT NATION: Talk all you want about match-ups and this player and that player, but two things will seperate the Saints again in this game and the rest of the season. 1) We have learned how to play in big games, 2) We respect every team and we know we have what ever team desire (The Lombardi) so our belief is that we have not done it right until we have done it twice. TWO-DAT!

waynester

September 24th, 2010
9:38 am

WHODAT
Get outta here with that weak mess! “we respect every team” bullhockey. All we get on here is smackyak from Saint fans ad nauseum. Hopefully, by Sunday evening this team will have earned your respect but until then it’s just more blah blah etc….
D3
You saved the real question for last. These two old rivals are on similar trajectories, trying to reenergize moribund franchises with new head coaches and infusions of talent at key positions. Eventually, those changes have to reach critical mass (as the Saints’ did last season) and so far, it’s been a lot of sizzle but little steak in the ATL. I’m ready for the Porterhouse with all the trimmings! Heck, I’m ready for the whole dadgum COW!

SeminoleWarrior

September 24th, 2010
9:38 am

Good morning Cage…the weekend is almost here. THS travels to Blakely, GA to face Early County in the first region game of the season. GO Dawgs. FSU hosts Wake Forest in the first ACC test of the season…Noles will handle the home field. But the biggest game of the year to date is in the Crescent City where the Falcons will take on the defending world champs, the Saints.

This is a MAJOR test of the Process. The Falcons have been building towards this day for the last year. The new, attacking, aggressive defense schemes will cause issues for the Saints. We should be able to effectively control the tempo of the game, force a turnover or two, and leave the Who Dat House ($115 millions in renovations courtesy of FEMA), with a key division victory.

The first major area that I will be watching is the matchup between our bionic man, Dunta Robinson and the Saints receivers. Colonel Steve Austin (aka Dunta) comes with a very high price tag and a lot of big time expectations. This is EXACTLY why he was bought to the ATL. His mission is to slow the roll of Colston, Meachem, Moore, or Henderson. If he is what we think he is, then we will have a great day. If not, the discussions will begin in earnest.

The revamped secondary will definately be challenged unlike any test they will face this season other than the Packers aerial assault. Owens, Grimes, DeCoud, and Moore will be aggressive for sure but attention to assignment and positional discipline will be essential. The revamped LB corps will handle the intermediate game, especially the TE routes.

The running lanes will be clogged as Babs, Peters, Jerry, Lofton, Weatherspoon, Peterson, Bierman, Abraham, and yes, even JA98 are going to rise to the moment. The trenches will be a battle zone. I see Abe and the Bier Truck delivering the goods at least once each in this game. Count on a LB/secondary sack, maybe two, as BVG will unleash the “Dawgs” to attack.

To summarize, all the Falcons need to do in ensuring this victory is to play the same game plan that they used so well last week. The Saints are a very lucky, opportunistic defensive team. They CAN be beat down with the power running game. I would run Snelling and Turner a combined 40-50 times in this game. Why? The best way to ENSURE victory is to keep Brees, Colston, and Meachem on the sidelines watching. If we can possess the ball for 30 – 37 minutes of this game, getting points with each possession, we should and WILL win. I guarantee it.

MR2 can not win this game alone. MT and JS can not carry this team alone. Steve Austin (Dunta) must hold up as the “#1″ corner. Spoon and Lofton have to attack hard and fast. DeCoud and Moore must make Henderson, Meachem, or Lance Moore think twice about crossing that middle of the field. It is our time.

The pundits are all over the Saints. In the House that FEMA built, everyone seems to want to just say give it too them. But there is a new bird of prey coming into the Superdome this weekend. This bird is on a mission and it wants to make a BIG statement. Smitty will have the troops focused and we will achieve this milestone. Ironically, the hero of the day will be the much maligned veteran kicker, Matt Bryant. Bryant will be cash money on Sunday, MR2 looks good and takes another step in his development.

The Falcons prevail Sunday by a score of 27-20. The Process rolled on.

waynester

September 24th, 2010
9:40 am

D3
Aw, c’mon! My response to WHODAT wasn’t THAT ugly….post the thing, willya?

waynester

September 24th, 2010
9:41 am

Enter your comments here

SeminoleWarrior

September 24th, 2010
9:43 am

Falcons 27, Saints 20. Yes, the Falcons will prevail in the Crescent City this weekend.

This is the most significant test of the Process to date. The revamped, attacking defense will be challenged like it has not been before. Brees is a cold blooded assasin; a nice, polite terrorist that only wants to win by an means necessary. His lethal corps of foot soldiers, Colston, Meachem, Lance Moore, and Henderson along with Shockey can cause issues anytime. Add in the Patton of the NFL in Sean Payton and you can see why this offensive juggernaut is as lethal as 3rd Army was when raced across Europe.

But, as great as the 3rd Army was, and as spectacular as the Saints can be, the tide is about to change. Let me introduce you to the thoughts behind my madness…

Page Two…

SeminoleWarrior

September 24th, 2010
9:48 am

My ACC brother, WR, stated yesterday that the Falcons are a defensive minded team. This will be put to the test on Sunday. Smitty and TD have been building for this moment for the last year. The Robinson signing, drafting Weatherspoon and Peters early and seeing them be effective so early, adding a gem late in Franks, along with the growth of Moore and Owens, give them speed and the tenacity they need to attack quickly and often.

Better LB speed, attacking CBs that can cover AND tackle, and an aggressive pair of safeties give us the ability to change game tempo in a manner that we have not seen in a while. I like our chances. But what will be the real difference in this game? Next page

SeminoleWarrior

September 24th, 2010
9:51 am

I know that there are those that want the deep passing game to be on display. There are others that want to see MR2 rise to the occasion and duel with Saint Drew. I am not among them. Old school here, this old grey rabbit wants to see Snelling and Turner carry the rock a combined 40-50 times in this contest. I want old fashioned, smash-mouth football. I feel the Falcons can rush for 180 – 250 yards against this defense. More importantly, such a strategy, old fashioned as it is, would result in the Falcons controlling the clock to the tune of some 28 – 35 minutes. The best way to beat Saint Drew and his merry men is to keep them on the sidelines.

uga_b

September 24th, 2010
9:52 am

Yeah, we saw how well that worked out for the Giants and the Steelers.

D-Led hit my number one point, which is turnovers. We have to be responsible with the ball on our side.

RE: Pressure. We need to get this push from the front 4 because lord knows we don’t want to be blitzing too much.

On the defensive side I almost feel like LB play is more important. The Saints WR are pretty good all around and have great skill sets but they are a big product of their formations. So it’s not the one-on-one’s as much as the safeties being in position and the LBs helping out in the middle of the field.

Honeslty, I don’t care about the deep ball this game. Grind it out and eat the clock. If it’s there, take it. Jenkins will really help here.

The step is there to be taken, so “Step Up” Atlanta.

uga_b

September 24th, 2010
9:54 am

SW, you and I agreed separately but you get all the dang credit!

SeminoleWarrior

September 24th, 2010
9:56 am

The Process will be definately on display for yet another critical evaluation. Simply task if you ask me. Just follow the road map from last week. Run that Rock, engage the TOTAL offensive package, and attack on defense. Most will say that the Cardinals did not pose a significant challenge to the Falcons last week. Even with the pressures of one of the leagues’ premier defenses and a Falcon offense that was one dimensional, we nearly beat the Steelers in their house. Defensively, we were quite effective with the exception of over-reaction on ONE play. Yes, it only takes one play but the Falcons made a statement in bouncing back. They won a game that they were supposed to win. Now, they have to win on that most think they CAN NOT win. But, that is why we play the game. They will win. The Falcons will prevail.

SeminoleWarrior

September 24th, 2010
9:59 am

Uga B, you got the credit with me my brother. This is our time and we shall prevail.

By the way, UGA will get on track this weekend. My man Mark Richt will right this ship. IMHO, he needs to take over the play calling duties. I know Bobo (Boo-Boo) from his days at Thomasville High, my home school. He is too much like his father, George. They are ho-hum, rarely innovative offensively, and just settle for the same thing. It would not surprise me at all to see him break out the vaunted wing T offense.

SeminoleWarrior

September 24th, 2010
10:06 am

Close scrutiny….

I will definately be watching the Million Dollar Man in this game. And I am not talking about Ted DiBiase here. I’m talking about Dunta Robinson. He was brought to the ATL, massive contract and all, SPECIFICALLY for this challenge. He has the tall order of shutting down Colston, Lance Moore, Meachem, or whoever is on that island as the #1 receiver. Now I understand that he is supposed to be a very good CB but I have yet to see anything that has me dancing in the streets. $57 million is a lot of cash to put into a guy that has ZERO interceptions in the last three years. Is he the shutdown we think he is? By 5pm Sunday, we will definately know.

uga_b

September 24th, 2010
10:16 am

Bobo runs the same system that Richt did, which is the same system that was at FSU. When everyone knows what you are going to run, you need to execute better. Like Willie M.’s defensive line, the system works when all your players are better than the one across from them.

Segue…

For all the exotic looks and formations the Saints show, they are an execution offense pure and simple. Look for the one defensive player out of position and exploit him. Not as big of a one-on-one team.

uga_b

September 24th, 2010
10:18 am

I actually would really like to have Coleman healthy for this game because this offense can exploit Moore’s rookie mistakes more than AZ.

waynester

September 24th, 2010
10:19 am

Seminole
I thought you went to Central….sorry dude, didn’t mean to offend!

SeminoleWarrior

September 24th, 2010
10:21 am

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Waynester.

I would rather drink muddy water and sleep in a hollow log than to be a Bee!!

SeminoleWarrior

September 24th, 2010
10:22 am

UGA B, Coleman’s veteran presence is definately an asset. But I have a feeling that Moore is going to surprise in this game.

waynester

September 24th, 2010
10:27 am

Seminole
I know we talked about this back when your grandmother was in hospital and I (obviously) misunderstood.
PS
Pat Yas over on ESPN’s site has an interesting bit on QB’s drafted by the Falcons starting for 4 teams this weekend. Favre, Vick, Schaub and Ryan. Hopefully, Matt’s the only one who picks up a “W”…..

SeminoleWarrior

September 24th, 2010
10:31 am

Waynester, it is all good. There are plenty of Bees in the extended family. They won the bragging rights this year in the annual rivalry.

I read that piece. I like Pat Y’s style.

Coop

September 24th, 2010
10:33 am

Morning Cage – I think NO is a precision somewhat finese team. We need to get inside their OODA Loop and make them reactionary. For the most part, we do that on D. Attack, attack, attack. If you get burned. Attack more. Don’t let them brief. Act before they can think. If you rattle their OL and Brees, mistakes will begin and we’ll have an opportunity to capitalize.

On O, I expect them to do everything they cna to take away the run. This is where our OL has to man up and dominate (not beat, dominate) their DL. Turner and Snelling need to bring the wodd too. When they hit the LBs/S, they need to leave their mark.

Watch for their secondary to play games with MR2. We all see him locking in on players. You can bet Sharper is gonna be sitting on that out to RW looking fo rthe pick 6. If MM and MR2 are smart, they’ll set him up with a pump and go.

SeminoleWarrior

September 24th, 2010
10:39 am

Coop, I think Sharper is still out with an injury. Will double check.

Coop

September 24th, 2010
10:40 am

Finally form yesterday’s discussion about the draft. With great respect to WR, SW, Unca Bob and others, the world isn’t black and white. It is possible to complain about a team while being a diehard fan. I do not consider blind faith being a fan, rather a sheep (not calling any of you sheep). I question my country, it’s leaders, and the Army. Does that mean I don’t love America? Does it mean I’m really a fan of France?

So I can question TD. I think some of his moves are wrong. I like Spoon, but I still think it could have been done differently. Not being in the war room to know if we had another option is irrelevant to this discussion. None of us are in the huddle when plays are called, but we sure as hell complain about that.

WR is correct, there’s a reason that TD is where he is and I’m sitting at this computer chatting about him. However, that would be true for everyone. So, we should all stop offering any opinions other than TD is great. He must be. He’s a Falcon. We never question the team. We never offer alternative views. We blindly follow whatever choice is made.

Of course, I know none of you believe that. I realize thought that it’s hard to understand how I can still say that drafting spoon was bad wihtout thinking I don’t like him and support him. I offer that it’s more complicated than that. Otherwise, I’d say that SW doesn’t like DRob and is hoping he’ll fail.

Coop

September 24th, 2010
10:41 am

SW – Didn’t know about Sharper. Regardless, watch teir S jumping that route. It seems we run it about 5 times a game.

SeminoleWarrior

September 24th, 2010
10:42 am

Speaking of the Angel, she is continuing to defy the odds. I will be at her side on Sunday. We will be having a family dinner but I made it clear to her that we must watch the game. Of course, I will have to get permission from my 2 yeard little cuz. She thinks she owns my angel..

Rivalry…the old grey rabbit and the young energizer bunny. The prize – grandmother. No loser, both winners, and lots of fun in between.

Again, the Posse thanks all of you for your love and prayers.

waynester

September 24th, 2010
10:47 am

Seminole
Great news–G-d is Good….

SeminoleWarrior

September 24th, 2010
10:50 am

Coop, as I have stated, we can all agree to disagree. You are correct in one thing though. It is crystal clear that we all love this team, our Falcons. That fact is absolute. So let the lively discussion continue. I learn something in each and every one of them. But I promise on all that I am as a Falcon fan and most importantly, a man, I will never disrespect the right of anyone to disagree.
Too many days in that blue and seen too many places where choices are RESTRICTED or not an option at all.

Rest assured that I will remain your favorite Zoomie and the warrior spirit will keep up bonded for all times to come.