Falcons have a chance to show who’s really best in NFC

Falcons coach Mike Smith generally is more animated on the sideline than he is in press conferences.

Falcons coach Mike Smith generally is more animated on the sideline than he is in press conferences. (AP photo)

Three years ago when Thomas Dimitroff faced the task of picking his first head coach, he had certain criteria in mind.

He wanted a coach who obviously knew what he was doing. He wanted someone who could work in concert with the Falcons’ general manager on personnel decisions. Also, he didn’t want an idiot who would shout from the rooftop, “I’m king of the world! Eat my shorts, Packers!” Seemed reasonable enough.

“Understand, I’m coming from a situation where we were hypersensitive to comments,” Dimitroff said, referencing New England days. “Our head coach [Bill Belichick] was very guarded about how he presented his thoughts. Mike Smith approaches the game competitively, but his aim is not to incite.”

Raheem Morris has a different approach. He prefers a blow torch.

This week, the Falcons play the best team in the NFC, or so we have been told. Morris coaches Tampa Bay. He exclaimed last week, “We’re the best team in the NFC. Yeah, I said it.”

The first sentence led everybody to think he was loony. The second sentence confirmed it.

Football coaches generally don’t make grand proclamations. They’re too paranoid. The fact Morris’s words came following  the modest feat of an 18-17 win over the St. Louis Rams, and six games into a season, and following a 3-13 season — well, that’s kind of goofy.

Maybe he was just firing up his players. Maybe he really believes it. Maybe it’s just the new wave of smack-talk coaches — Morris, Josh McDaniels, Rex Ryan — who approach press conferences the way Chad Ochocinco approaches Twitter: So much in the cranium, so little time.

This much is certain: The Falcons are entering a stretch where we’re going to find out just how good they are. They are 5-2 – and possibly the best team in the NFC. They have the NFC South showdown with Tampa Bay, then a meeting with Baltimore only four days later on Thursday night. Games against Green Bay and the Bucs again soon follow.

Look out: Raheem Morris is behind a microphone again.

Take cover: Raheem Morris is behind a microphone again.

They’re not without blemishes. They blew a three-touchdown lead against Cincinnati last week but recovered. They won unimpressively against two unimpressive teams: San Francisco and Cleveland. They were smacked in Philadelphia.

They are coming off a bye. This is when problems need to be straightened out.

As for motivation: It wasn’t a problem before Morris spoke, so it’s even less of a problem now. Most players just smiled when asked about his comments but declined to rebut. Linebacker Mike Peterson was an exception.

“Very unusual,” he said. “Coaches don’t play a down. They don’t play one down.”

He was at home when a news clip of Morris’ press conference came on the TV screen. Then came the whiplash.

“I was like, whoa,” Peterson said. “All of this technology now, you can back it up. [I thought], ‘Let me back that up.’ I was sitting with a couple of my friends and I was like, ‘Did he really say that?’ So I should thank him. We definitely have another motivating factor.”

Wide receiver Roddy White said, “We’re playing the best team in the NFC this week. Lucky us.” Then he laughed and walked away.

Center Todd McClure: “I tell you what: We’ll see in December and January if they’re the best team in the NFC.”

You’ll not hear such talk from Smith this week. When cameras go on, he turns vanilla. Dimitroff likes it that way.

“He’s not beating his chest. He not out there on a pedestal, raving about the success of his team.”

Asked about Morris’ comments, Dimitroff chose his words carefully: “I was schooled quite well not to provide bulletin board material. Those kind of quotes are counter-intuitive to me.”

Then this: “We are looking forward to playing ostensibly the best team in the NFC.”

Just a slight tweak.

Last few posts (no charge)

Hawks got it right this time by locking up Al Horford

Did Grantham give Florida kicker the choke sign? (Updated: Yes)

Georgia’s bowl life could come down to Tech game

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

120 comments Add your comment

birdpreyof

November 2nd, 2010
12:37 pm

time to sign randy moss.

birdpreyof

November 2nd, 2010
12:37 pm

oh, and first….haha

Jamaaliver

November 2nd, 2010
12:44 pm

Falcons are the best NFC team…when they play at home. But the Saints are coming. And the Giants are waiting.

It’s gonna be a great stretch run to the end of the season.

Jamaaliver

November 2nd, 2010
12:45 pm

If we have to go to New Orleans or Green Bay or New York in the playoffs…our chances decrease greatly.

Herschel Talker

November 2nd, 2010
12:50 pm

FIRE MARK RICHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

mountain_jim

November 2nd, 2010
12:58 pm

Go Roddy go! 200+ yards, 3 TDs!

Danny

November 2nd, 2010
1:01 pm

Shults…I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. YOU’RE A MORON!!!

GMAN

November 2nd, 2010
1:01 pm

i just hope that MM and BVG dont choke on this one, times like this when we get a lead we need to step on their throat. all out blow out, but thats my problem with the falcons, killer instinct, we just have not had it.

SPS

November 2nd, 2010
1:03 pm

Here is a quote from SI’s Peter King made exactly 8 weeks ago today:

“I think Carolina’s my surprise team of the year and will play in January … because I love that running game and like Matt Moore to morph into a top 15 quarterback.”

Maybe Raheem Morris’ quote will seem just as comical 8 weeks from today.

picassokat

November 2nd, 2010
1:04 pm

I’ll hold off judgment on Birds for now. There was this same talk about Braves @ halfway mark this season. Both teams ran into teams from Philly and both teams lost.

white man

November 2nd, 2010
1:05 pm

Yes I would say right now the Falcons are the best team in the NFC. Thank you for Mike Smith and Arthur Blank for a great season thus far.

GMAN

November 2nd, 2010
1:05 pm

ill say this to the coaches, let Matt Ryan and this offense off their leashes. and let them fly

white man

November 2nd, 2010
1:06 pm

picassokat……good point but look at the injuries the Braves suffered down the stretch.

GMAN

November 2nd, 2010
1:09 pm

Enter your comments here

Honky Talkin'

November 2nd, 2010
1:09 pm

Danny – why are you picking on Schultz? You must be a defeated UGA fan, and ignorance is all you know.

MalibuGT

November 2nd, 2010
1:10 pm

thank you for a blog that isn’t about mark richt!

jfreak13713

November 2nd, 2010
1:14 pm

In my opinion the Falcons are at best third in NFC. Giants and Packers still seem pretty good, but Tampa Bay? No way! They have improved but they are 3rd in their own division. Falcons if they stay healthy are pretty close to being the best and can certainly beat anyone in the NFC when they are running the ball well.

SimpleDawg

November 2nd, 2010
1:14 pm

We’ll see what we’ll see.

So far the wins have been unspectacular, some even lucky. One of the losses was an embarrassment.

There’s still an awful lot to prove. Tampa will be a good test. Then come the Ravens. We’ll know much more in 3 weeks.

Barkin'Dog

November 2nd, 2010
1:18 pm

And the Braves played San Fran tougher than Philly and the Rangers… with a half-injured team of 2nd and 3rd stringers. Dang… I hope the manager gets that kind of production out of his new team.

And, yes, I believe the Falcons are the best in the NFC. But that bears proving out.

Barkin'Dog

November 2nd, 2010
1:19 pm

I once thought the Dawgs were the best in the SEC East ;-)

NATIVEBIRD

November 2nd, 2010
1:19 pm

I like Randy Moss here 2. We messed up and didn’t get Terrell who is having a good year on a mediocre team.

Just like the Hawks messed up by not signing Shaq.

I agree, get Randy for another downfield threat, and you will see Mike Turner run better and Roddy have more open chances. Jenkins (although he’s my frat brother) doesn’t scare anyone. He doesn’t draw a double-team that often if ever. Randy would.

Just think about it. Dimitroff knows Randy from NE also, so maybe he can make it work….

mmmmmmmmm

SirReal

November 2nd, 2010
1:22 pm

we’ll see how good we are after Sunday and Thursday. If we can go 2-0 it’ll help us a LOT. We cant sleep on these Bucs even with the tomfoolery the coach uttered. They always present issues and play hard. I still say we send them home soundly. Baltimore will be a beast of a game too….I think if we continue to buil don the way we ran the offense against CIN, we should (key word is SHOULD) be fine. No more first Half Falcons….time to evolve into Full game/season Falcons.

droopydawg

November 2nd, 2010
1:22 pm

Schultzie, your outrage meter seems to be set a little high this week. First the Grantham thing (who….cares…..) and now you’re acting like Morris punched out a reporter. Morris was trying to make a statement that the Bucs weren’t a fluke team. They really are a lot better than a year ago (mostly because their last two-three drafts have produced more legit current starters than the Falcons last ten), but I don’t think he really thinks they are the class of the NFC (despite the 5-2 record), but that they’ve got something to work from, which is a big improvement

droopydawg

November 2nd, 2010
1:22 pm

Randy Moss should be a Falcon, line him up opposite Roddy and suddenly the Falcons offense would look threatening.

UGABugKiller

November 2nd, 2010
1:27 pm

Why do I get the feeling that the same morons who think Randy Moss should be a Falcon are the same people who love and worship at the feet of the DogKilla.

Idiots.

All you people care about is STYLE and no SUBSTANCE.

And not that Moss has shown a damn thing. Except that he gives up on catchable passes. Or that he curses at and treats hardworking caterers like garbage.

Get a frakking clue, people.

white man

November 2nd, 2010
1:29 pm

DO NOT BRING RANDY MOSS….It would be M. VIck part 2.

Dawgfan

November 2nd, 2010
1:31 pm

Read atricle at the risk of losing a few IG points. Schultz is trash. Go back to LA trash!

(Un-) Fair weather fan

November 2nd, 2010
1:32 pm

Falcons best team in the NFC?

Sorry but I don’t see how you can call a team that has still yet to prove that it can show up against a team while playing on the road in the Northeast (okay the sort of did ok in Pittsburgh)? Put this team on the field in Philadelphia – or against the AFC powerhouse Patriots for that matter – and the Falcons get humbled every time. Every single time.

So until that changes, how can you even entertain calling the birds the best in NFC? Or am I missing something here?

John

November 2nd, 2010
1:32 pm

Atlanta doesn’t need Moss, the quarterback needs to be able to throw longer than 20 yards to get him the ball. The Saints are the best in the NFC, and I’m a Atlanta fan.

I’m just a realist…

droopydawg

November 2nd, 2010
1:33 pm

UGABugKiller: Blatant caterer trolling. I think Moss would be a great fit becasue outside Roddy the Falcon receiving corps is terrible and Moss is only two years removed from a 23 TD season. You may think that is no substance, but that would make you an idiot.

Supes

November 2nd, 2010
1:34 pm

The Falcons are gonna put it on Tampa Bay this weekend. Doesn’t mean either team is “the best in the NFC”…

Colonel Kurtz

November 2nd, 2010
1:35 pm

I heard the Bucs say they are the best in the NFC..I laughed…..
And then I realized they were stronger than we, because they could stand that these were not monsters, these were men… trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love… but they had the strength… the strength… to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men, our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral… and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling… without passion… without judgment… without judgment! Because it’s judgment that defeats us.
And these are the same dirty Bucs that will watch the playoffs in January. (Quoted from Apocalypse Now)

crackbaby

November 2nd, 2010
1:38 pm

Yadda Yadda Yadda…. yawn….

We will find out on Sunday who the first place team in our Division is. Nothing more.

FrontRow

November 2nd, 2010
1:39 pm

Jeff looks like you made the UGA fans angry (again). What did you do make the bulldogs lousy?

Raheem and his band of pirates are a bunch of punks. I’m not saying that because I’m a Falcons fan; the Bucs came in here last year and tried to start a street fight at a football game.

I don’t expect any more from them this weekend….they play like a team in the NBA playoffs with alot of fouls to give.

Colonel Kurtz

November 2nd, 2010
1:39 pm

This Morris guy? He’s wacko, man! He’s worse than crazy. He’s evil. It’s pagan idolatry. Look around you. He’s loco… I ain’t afraid of all them skulls and boats and pirates. I used to think if I died in an evil place, then my soul wouldn’t be able to make it to Heaven. But now? I mean, I don’t care where it goes, as long as it ain’t Tampa. So whaddya wanna do?

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The Truth

November 2nd, 2010
1:41 pm

To anyone who thinks that the Falcons would even consider signing Randy Moss….check out the first sentence of the third paragraph of this article. Moss just got drummed out of Minnesota for running his mouth too much.

shawn

November 2nd, 2010
1:42 pm

succeneers almost two close games…In order to make such a stupid statement, they need to be dominating in every aspect of the game and they are not. Falcons will beat them and I can not wait what Rahim Morris will say…Let me guess: “succeneers are the second best team in NFC” right?

timthebrave

November 2nd, 2010
1:44 pm

I feel good about the Falcons but to say they are the best in the NFC when we haven’t won a playoff game since 2004 is a little quick. If we get home field advantage we have a chance but I wouldn’t like our chances on the road against anyone that is even decent. The win at New Orleans was a gift otherwise we aren’t even first in our division…I hope you are right but this team still has a long way to go. Go Falcons

juice sourcer

November 2nd, 2010
1:45 pm

Danny…you are the moron…high school education?

extremus

November 2nd, 2010
1:48 pm

I hadn’t heard the quote by Morris, but it sounds about as convincing as Jim Mora asking “What did they ever win?” regarding Falcons greats like Jeff Van Note and others following his own (initial and short-lived) success.

If you read SI.com’s Power Rankings this week, you’ll hear that ANOTHER team is the best in the NFC…the New York Giants. All fine and dandy; those rankings only serve to paint a big fat target on the backs of the teams at the top. Nobody’s really talking about the Atlanta Falcons even now despite their 5-2 record and share of the NFC South lead. Granted, they’ve had some definite issues exposed in some of their previous games, but good teams with competent management and coaching can often gel over the course of a season to become GREAT teams, even Superbowl champions.

Hopefully the Falcons will follow that model and let their actions speak for them on the field; it’s fine by me if they fly under the media radar and nobody sees them coming until it’s too late. But after Raheem Morris’ comments this week, I guess a short diversion to make a profound and unmistakable statement against Tampa Bay is certainly in order.

GO FALCONS!!!!

BuzztheKiller

November 2nd, 2010
1:53 pm

Raheem who? Where is this clown from? I have never heard of him. Tampa will be lucky to finish .500 this year. Falcons should be 12-4 and playing for home field. Predicted finishes for local teams:
Falcons 12-4
Tech 8-4 (will lose one to either VT or UM)
UGA 5-7 (can’t help but chuckle seeing that in print)

mike

November 2nd, 2010
1:57 pm

Well it is time for the falconettes to step up. Sometimes being the best does not matter when you are playing the game. Any team can beat aonther team at any time. So let’s wait and see one wins the remaing games before talking who the best. Usually the best no matter what conference wins the Superbowel.

Cajun Crap Talker

November 2nd, 2010
2:11 pm

Bucs are a joke. The Falcons will handle them easily.

Can’t wait for Dec. 27.

MLH

November 2nd, 2010
2:12 pm

For all the people on here wanting Randy Moss, you do know that even if the Falcons did want Moss, that he has to pass through waivers first? So that means more than likely the Falcons would not even get the chance to sign him, although I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t want to anyway.

Miss Manners

November 2nd, 2010
2:15 pm

Superbowel? Yuck.

Lo

November 2nd, 2010
2:27 pm

We already beat the Saints in New Orleans so ur point isnt as valid as you thought Jamaaliver

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Fantasy Tackles, Jeff Schultz. Jeff Schultz said: Who’s really NFC’s best? Falcons have chance to show it http://bit.ly/aRhGF7 [...]

Cpat16

November 2nd, 2010
2:40 pm

FYI…I know its not related to the topic but I thought I’d share it….

Atlanta Falcons

The city of Atlanta, Georgia is not renowned for falcons. So, how was the team named after the regal bird? A teacher named Julia Elliot won a name-the-team contest for the new NFL team. Elliot noted that various adjectives accurately described the falcon:

• courage
• deadly
• dignified
• proud
• sporting

Thus, the new Atlanta NFL team would take off as the Falcons.

Tucker T

November 2nd, 2010
2:52 pm

Seems as though Dawgfan is having a bad day.

Tucker T

November 2nd, 2010
2:54 pm

The best thing about this is that we will know who the best team is after Sunday’s game. We won’t have long to wonder. I like the Falcons coming off the bye week at home.