Can Falcons and ‘D block’ defense contain Saints?

Arizona's Tim Hightower is somewhere under the pile of Falcons' defenders.

Arizona's Tim Hightower is somewhere under the pile of Falcons' defenders, but New Orleans is a big step up.

FLOWERY BRANCH  — There is an area of the Falcons’ locker room at their training facility known as “D block.” It’s comprised of mostly linebackers and defensive end Kroy Biermann, because, in the words of linebacker Curtis Lofton, “Kroy’s nasty so we let him in.”

“You can’t enter D block without permission,” Lofton said.

“We’re the bad side over here,” said linebacker Mike Peterson, the unofficial mayor of D block.

Motioning to the opposite corner of the locker room, where quarterback Matt Ryan and the receivers dress, Peterson added: “That’s Beverly Hills over there.”

I figured this would be a good week to visit D block. The Falcons’ defense goes against New Orleans Sunday, and Atlanta’s upset chances are closely tied to the more physical, less graceful aspects of football. Finesse probably won’t win it.

Last year, the Saints defeated the Falcons by scores of 35-27 and 26-23. Atlanta had little trouble moving the ball against New Orleans, but struggled to contain quarterback Drew Brees, who completed 56 of 73 passes for 604 yards and five touchdowns with one interception in the two games.

The Falcons’ defense has had an impressive start to the season. Pittsburgh managed only three field goals in the opener until a 50-yard touchdown run by Rashard Mendenhall in overtime. Arizona also managed just one touchdown, also on a  big play: an 80-yard run by Tim Hightower in the Falcons’ 41-7 win.

But the Saints, who led the NFL in offense last season on the way to the Super Bowl, represent a significant step up. It may be only one game in a season of 16 but how the year unfolds will be determined in part by how the Falcons’ defense holds up against explosive offenses.

“You can’t crown us yet, but we’re climbing that ladder,” Peterson said.

Lofton referred to Brees as “like a surgeon” on the field. “This will test us in all facets,” he said. “We have to bring that [hard] hat.”

The question of the day: Do you believe the Falcons’ defense is up for the task?

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105 comments Add your comment

Heath

September 22nd, 2010
3:49 pm

They couldn’t beat a 3rd string QB in Pittsburgh. BUT, they get the Saints on a short week, so maybe.

MattyB

September 22nd, 2010
3:51 pm

Yes, but just barely.

lyric82

September 22nd, 2010
3:51 pm

First!!! And yes I think the Falcons will.

lyric82

September 22nd, 2010
3:53 pm

Heath they Folded at the end but boy did they hold up during regulation. The offense failed the Falcons in the first game, in my opinion.

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

September 22nd, 2010
3:53 pm

It will be kind of like a slaughter house treats a steer. First NO will give a good tap on the head to knock ATL out, and then will come the bullet right between the eyes. The skinning and cutting up will come in their own time.

5150 P.O.A.D.

September 22nd, 2010
3:56 pm

Pittsburgh has one of the Top 4 D’s in the NFL. The Saints don’t have a better D than the Stelers. The Saints will see a better D from the Falcons than they have seen so far.

Willy

September 22nd, 2010
3:57 pm

Is the D up to the challenge? No. Well, yes. But probably not.

Heath

September 22nd, 2010
4:03 pm

And really, it was Ryan’s fault they got beat last year there, not the D so much.

What's Important

September 22nd, 2010
4:06 pm

Heath, get bent.

Heath

September 22nd, 2010
4:07 pm

Oookay. Thanks for the insight.

Who dat Champs

September 22nd, 2010
4:07 pm

Our offense has been conservative, our defense has been vanilla, now its showtime. Pidgeons, yall dont stand a chance! We are making a roux now for sunday’s dinner…BIRD STEW!!!!

What's Important

September 22nd, 2010
4:09 pm

Heath, you’re welcome.

Heath

September 22nd, 2010
4:09 pm

My bad, What’s Important. I didn’t realize middle school was out already. But honestly, you should get started on that homework.

Mitch (the one in Rome)

September 22nd, 2010
4:12 pm

I don’t pay attention to my hunches too much, but I’ve got a hunch that the Aints are about to run into a buzz saw. The birds balled with them last year in two games and came up short with a much worse D at corner and D Line. That corner spot and D Line is much improved. If the O can muster some of what they did against Arizona I think we may answer the uneducated question “who dat?” with The Falcons.

What's Important

September 22nd, 2010
4:12 pm

Thanks Heath, I will. Then maybe I will learn not to reduce a 60 minute game to a single play and then blame that player for losing the game.

Heath

September 22nd, 2010
4:13 pm

Who Dat, you’re coming off a short week. And we don’t have to worry about waiting for Norwood to run the ball once or twice to get hurt, he’s out for the season. Sneeling is on fire, we might light it up against those boys.

Jeff Schultz

September 22nd, 2010
4:14 pm

Heath –Agreed. Normally I would favor the Saints heavily this game but them having played on a Monday and 2000 miles away could be a significant factor.

Thomas

September 22nd, 2010
4:15 pm

Who Dat!!!!!!

Heath

September 22nd, 2010
4:16 pm

He did lose the game. It isn’t my fault he did. He’s won some too. But he lost that one. If you can’t admit that, maybe you should be over on the Mike Vick blog of Bradley’s, there’s plenty of idiots on that one.

Answer the STUPID question already!!!!!

September 22nd, 2010
4:16 pm

New Orleans people….. Who Dat?? PLEASE stop asking the same, grammatically incorrect question over, and over, and over, and over, and over……..

You sound ALMOST as bad as Georgia Tech fans constantly screaming “To Hell with Georgia” when they play all the ACC powerhouse programs like Virginia, Duke, Wake Forrest, Boston College, Maryland, NC State and UNC.

JBFALCON

September 22nd, 2010
4:20 pm

Football is won as a team and lost as a team, not one player.

Sports Review

September 22nd, 2010
4:21 pm

[...] Can Falcons and 'D block' defense contain Saints?Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)The Falcons' defense goes against New Orleans Sunday, and Atlanta's upset chances are closely tied to the more physical, less graceful aspects of football. …Opportunistic defense carries New Orleans Saints again: film studyNOLA.com [...]

Heath

September 22nd, 2010
4:23 pm

Unless you are slashing your way down the field and your QB decides to throw the ball to the other team. I like Ryan, but he lost that game.

jerry

September 22nd, 2010
4:26 pm

Mike Smith on the road against a good team? I don’t think so.

Tom Pridemore was tuff

September 22nd, 2010
4:29 pm

ditto to what Mitch said….Falcons win straight up…and they do it playing big boy football…the trip to NO is “businees trip” for the Falcons….

MtnDawg

September 22nd, 2010
4:37 pm

Like the Falcons on this one in a close call. I think the D block brings it, and Snelling sparks the offense just enough.

Answer the question already!!!!!

September 22nd, 2010
4:41 pm

Who Dat?? You sound as bad as Georgia Tech screaming “To Hell with Georgia” when they are playing teams other than Georgia.

The only reason I wish i was a Saints fan is so I could pretend to be French, and add an “x” to words that do not need an “x”.

Falcons- 31 Saints- 20

Heath Sucks Vick

September 22nd, 2010
4:44 pm

Hey Heath, Section 8 housing called and said shut up or you will homeless next month. Our defense will be exposed but our offense will destroy theirs, ATL 42 – Taints 28.

Answer the question already!!!!!

September 22nd, 2010
4:44 pm

I wish I was a Saints fan so I could act French.

Answer the question already!!!!!

September 22nd, 2010
4:44 pm

BOO….. Why has Schultz banned me again?? I did nothing wrong….

Heath

September 22nd, 2010
4:48 pm

“or you will homeless”

Your 3rd grade teacher called and said learn simple grammar before trying to be clever.

Some of these hardcore Ryan supporters are as psychotic as Vick supporters. If the guy makes a mistake, it isn’t the fault of everyone else. If you comment on the mistake it doesn’t make you a terrible person. Relax.

PMC

September 22nd, 2010
4:52 pm

Here’s hoping you brought some fava beans and a nice chianti Schultz.

Everyone knows you never enter D block without bringing a gift.

JBFALCON

September 22nd, 2010
4:53 pm

There are a lot of self centered players who think the team can’t do without them and Atlanta used to have some, but no more. There are also a lot of fans who think one play makes a game. Same reasoning.

PMC

September 22nd, 2010
4:53 pm

Gman

September 22nd, 2010
4:54 pm

Hopefully, yes, they are up to it.

I’ll believe it when I see it. Brees did whatever he wanted in those games last year. If it comes down to Brees vs Ryan-we get killed.

Heath

September 22nd, 2010
4:57 pm

Okay, the intereception had no bearing whatsoever on the game.

Dawg House

September 22nd, 2010
5:09 pm

Who Dat? Please answer your stupid question already, so you can please stop asking it.

SimpleDawg

September 22nd, 2010
5:10 pm

Falcons beat Caints……with defense. 24 – 6.

Saints LSU

September 22nd, 2010
5:10 pm

@ Heath if the falcons score 42 that mean the saints win 64 -42 I don’t think so the score will be saints 35 falcons 20

Edward

September 22nd, 2010
5:11 pm

I think the key for the Falcons on Sunday is getting out to that quick start that they are accustomed to, taking the ball down field on an opening drive and scoring a touchdown. As for the defense I think the biggest key is along the defensive line where Bierrmann and Abe have to get their hands up and try to knock down some of those Drew Brees passes. I think they have to help the secondary this week. The Saints are coming off a short week of practice and I think the Falcons will be ready.

Atlanta 28
New Orleans 21

Saints LSU

September 22nd, 2010
5:11 pm

@SimpleDawg you know that want happen LOL

Sid

September 22nd, 2010
5:13 pm

Paper or plastic sack heads, we are nuts over your women http://tinyurl.com/2bsh9p2

Sack heads talkin some kinda smack
Falcons gonna beat them with a ground attack
Brew Wheeze will be taken down
gonna get hurt when he hits the ground
Bush got his leg broke it’s just the beginning
Aint’s fans heads are gonna be spinning
talk all you want but that was last year
we are flyin’ at you like a bombardier
After we embarrass you with a shot to the solar plexus
So sorry we won’t see you in Arlington, Texas

Have a Nice Day!

Terry

September 22nd, 2010
5:17 pm

Hey, look! An Atlanta sportswriter talking about the Atlanta Falcons.

MisterEarl

September 22nd, 2010
5:31 pm

C’mon people, the Saints just defeated the NFC powerhouse Vikings who were seeking revenge, and the 49ers who were opening their home season on MNF. Do you really thing that Matt Ryan is capable of throwing against Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter, who picked the best in the business (P Manning) and a quick-release vet (Kurt Warner) in consecutive weeks?

Really?

Who is covering Marques Colston?

Think with your brains and not your hearts.

Whopper Dawg

September 22nd, 2010
5:39 pm

A very important game given the aspirations of the program. Year three of the TD/MS campaign, are all the personnel moves on the D beginning to bear fruit? So, fair the Falcons barely lost to a good team with no QB, and beat soundly a now mediocre team with no QB. The big boys roll into town this week, as far as travel and all that HS, it couldn’t get worse for the Saints, but I think they will be ready to play.

Good test for the team and TD/MS, if you can’t beat the Saints in this setup, when are you?

JSS

September 22nd, 2010
5:54 pm

“D-Block?” Sounds like all of that gimmick stuff we get out of Athens when they should talking about covering, hitting, and shedding blocks.

They (the Saints) moved the ball effectively on San Francisco. You better come with some HGH and attack their D-Line and give Turner some real holes. That place is going to be even louder than the NFC Championship game or the Dome reopening game thanks all of the trash talking coming from our side. The Falcons have to show that they can win on the road against one of The Leagues’ established forces, Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades.

JSS

September 22nd, 2010
6:01 pm

Colston? You better worry about Moore, Henderson, Graham. and Thomas!!! Those are the ones who kill us.

Who dat Champs

September 22nd, 2010
6:04 pm

I dont care if we just played 5000 miles away it dont matter when it comes down to the pidgeons or any other. We are the champs and we can handle any situation at anytime, we can win on the road or at home because we’re well coached and have a true leader Drew “So Cool” Brees. The pidgeons will and always will losers, yall will never be winners and for the people on here who wanna talk about grammer…”WHO DAT WE DAT, SUPERBOWL 44 WORLD CHAMPS WE R DAT, THE PIDGEONS WILL NEVA B DAT…NA GRAMMER DAT…LMAO!!!!!

Larry

September 22nd, 2010
6:43 pm

I believe the Falcons will have to play an error free game and show some coaching courage at the right time (like a 4th and 1 on their opponent’s 5 yard line to win the game). I believe the first goal is possible; I believe “Field Goal Mike” will cave in on the courage part on the road against the Saints. Until he proves otherwise, Mike Smith is a good guy and and decent coach, but a big game championship type coach he has yet to become.

Saints win a close game and their both intelligent and courageous coaching will be the difference. Mike Smith is too conservative, Mike Mularkey too predictable, and Brian Van Gorder cannot seem to grasp when and when not to blitz. Our players will play hard on Sunday but the aforementioned coaching inadequacies and the handcuffs on Ryan will add up to a hard fought loss.

Saints 27 – Falcons 23

Martin

September 22nd, 2010
7:08 pm

Speaking of grammar, can anybody in Georgia spell Tennessee? Now for the game, one blogger stated the saints haven’t faced a defense like the falcons, are you serious? The saints faced the number (1) Viking and (6) 49ers from last year. The saints will win this game going away. You guys faced Pittsburg, a team that has no offense without big Ben. Then you faced a cardinals team without Warner and his weapons of 2008 or 2009. All of a sudden the falcants are the team to beat. Let’s see if they can keep up with the saints offense. If by some luck your falcants leave the dome with a win, I will be the first one from the who dat nation to congratulate your team.