LIVE: It’s time for Falcons to show that ‘explosiveness’

Do the Falcons have their game faces on? I can't tell from here.

Do the Falcons have their game faces on? I can't tell from here.

CHICAGO — Hey, anybody else realize the Falcons open the season today?

It has been a strange offseason, what with the NFL lockout, postponed free agency, and relatively limited practice time. The Falcons have been somewhat lost on the Atlanta sports landscape, particularly with college football starting last week.

But today, we begin to find out what this team is: a Super Bowl contender (as it seemed to show during a 13-3 regular season last year), or a team that’s not quite at that elite level yet (as it showed in the lopsided home playoff loss to Green Bay last January).

Sports Illustrated has tabbed Curtis Lofton and the Falcons to win the Super Bowl.

Sports Illustrated has tabbed linebacker Curtis Lofton and the Falcons to win the Super Bowl this season.

All we heard from general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Mike Smith following the loss to the Packers was how this team needed more explosiveness, and they seem to have added that on both sides of the ball. Wide receiver Julio Jones is a game-breaker. If he doesn’t steer some of the defensive attention away from Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez in the passing game, that means he is being left one-on-one. That would be fine with quarterback Matt Ryan, as he, Smith and offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey spent much of training camp and exhibitions trying to quickly implement Jones into the offense.

Edwards also should have an impact. The Falcons were shredded by Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs. The fact the Packers went on to win the Super Bowl and made New Orleans’ defense look silly Thursday night might soften the blow a bit. But the fact remains that the

It's not always this nice in Chicago.

It's not always this nice in Chicago.

team needed to improve its pass rush.

Edwards is not a sack machine. But he is a terrific all-round end who should fit well into the Falcons’ scheme and take some of the onus off of John Abraham. The Bears finished 30th in the NFL in offense last season but should be improved in the second season under coordinator Mike Martz.

Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler can be a knucklehead, but he’s a talented knucklehead. If the Falcons don’t get pressure on him and let him get into a rhythm, they the Bears will move the ball.

One final thing: The weather is absolutely gorgeous — about 70 degrees and sunny with a breeze. If this game was being held in December during a typically miserable Chicago winter, it would play more to the defense. So the Falcons, with more offensive weapons, should have an advantage.

That’s it for now. What are your thoughts on the Falcons today and this season. If you missed it, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King has tabbed them as Super Bowl champions. Falcons owner Arthur Blank wouldn’t have a problem with that.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

1,926 comments Add your comment

Paul H

September 11th, 2011
10:52 am

1. Go Falcons.

Eric

September 11th, 2011
10:56 am

Can’t wait to see how this team, though very similar to last season’s, clicks with it’s revamped roster. We should be able to handle the Bears well, but time will tell.

Freshmaker

September 11th, 2011
11:05 am

Falcons 35 – Bears 17

Go Falcons!

DHunt

September 11th, 2011
11:06 am

Falcons will be balling out of control today. Predicting a much better all around opening day performance this year. Defense showed up last year on opening day, and offense will do the same this year.

WitStream

September 11th, 2011
11:07 am

LET’S GET IT ON!

Honestly, I feel like I’m about to Jacquizz…

Kurtis

September 11th, 2011
11:11 am

Thanks for the report Jeff. I’ve been disappointed that the Falcons section of the online AJC hasn’t had nearly as many articles as I had hoped there would be. It’s nice to hear ANYTHING new about our beloved Falcons.

Also, you and I are currently tied with our Sack Schultz picks. I’m not sure if that’s good news for me or bad news for you. HAHAHA.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 11th, 2011
11:16 am

Every year these same Falcants fans make up excuses for CHOKE’s failures.

- He is still young

- If he had a defense like The Ravens they would win the superbowl

- He needs more weapons

ETC ETC ETC

When you pay a guy 72 million dollars without earning it, this is what you get.

This is year 4 and he has more weapons than any Falcons team as E-V-E-R had in the history of the franchise, yet failure after failure and now the Tampa Bay team has successfully rebuilt their team and Carolina is not far behind.

The excuses are getting old. Blank I’m sure is hearing it from Lurie in the meetings – Thanks Artie ole boy for cutting the best thing that ever happened to your sorry city.

Lurie and his wife are both dog lovers, but they are not stupid :)

Lurie knew that the Falcants could not win with just Alge Crumpler, that’s why the Eagles have surrounded Vick with players that can actually play.

One thing the Falcants & CHOKE can count on…………….

An annual BEAT DOWN from the Eagles :)

Athens Dawg

September 11th, 2011
11:17 am

In last season’s opener against Pittsburgh our defense played lights out and we didn’t have Edwards then nor the continuity among our defensive backs. Everyone in the secondary has had one year, and a full off-season together to gel and communicate with each other. And it was against PITTSBURGH who went to the Super Bowl last season and we lost 15-9. Granted they had Dixon in, but he’s a mobile QB who can get the job done.

Offensively, we are better than last season because we have a young receiver in Jones but he is big, physical and not only will he help in the passing game but his blocking will do wonders for Turner. You can’t stack the box to stop Turner anymore or Ryan will pick your defense apart with White, Jones, Gonzalez, Douglas, etc.

It’s really pick your poison. How do you want to defend us? Look for Douglas to have a big game today with Jones, White, Gonzalez taking pressure off him. He’s #83, the slot receiver.

GO FALCONS!

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 11th, 2011
11:20 am

Better watch out for that Soldier Field turf – lots of ACLs have claimed victory :)

Doug

September 11th, 2011
11:21 am

dang from tennessee to illinois. jeff is getting around!

bgdawg

September 11th, 2011
11:29 am

falcons win 17-13 defense is going to show up in this game, but a last minute drive by MR will put us over the top

Bellefay1

September 11th, 2011
11:32 am

Are we still rising up this year or are we going with a new campaign?

MightyQuinn

September 11th, 2011
11:32 am

Was going to comment, then saw “Choke” was back and knew that all reason and sensibility from everyone would be going out the window, so I shall refrain and withdraw.

Jeff Schultz

September 11th, 2011
11:34 am

Falcons inactives are in. No surprises. C Todd McClure and DT Corey Peters are out with injuries. C Joe Hawley and DT Peria Jerry start. Also scratched: Darrin Walls, Antone Smith, Spencer Adkins, Mike Johnson, Cliff Matthews.

Jeff Schultz

September 11th, 2011
11:35 am

Kurtis — I think I took a few hits yesterday in the contest. Oh well. Long season. (I can’t win the trip anyway, dang it.)

Jeff Schultz

September 11th, 2011
11:36 am

Matt “Choke” Ryan –So good to have you back my friend. You keep it interesting. … Just don’t give me a headache.

Mr Charlie

September 11th, 2011
11:42 am

Funny how Choke talks about Ryans excuses, but then dovetails into making excuses for Vick. and how in 10 years, he has barely even sniffed the superbowl. I am guessing in 6 more years, Ryan may manage to lose a NFC championship and reach the MV7 pinnacle.

Ben Roeth-rapist-berger

September 11th, 2011
11:46 am

Mr Charlie, Choke would argue 2 of the 10 years don’t count since DogKiller7 was doing hard time. ;-)

Athens Dawg

September 11th, 2011
11:49 am

I think the defense has a coming out party today. I don’t think the Bears score 14.

Mr Charlie

September 11th, 2011
11:50 am

Ben, yes, I do expect Choke to make even more excuses. I wonder what he is going to say when the Redskins with Grossman win the division….but, Rex has been to a superbowl, Vick has not, so, that should not be a big surprise.

Mr Charlie

September 11th, 2011
11:50 am

Athens, I think we will beat and batter Cutler.

Athens Dawg

September 11th, 2011
11:57 am

Edwards and Abraham will prove to be too much for the Bears O-line. You have a rookie RT with Gabe Carimi going up against Ray Edwards. That can’t be good news for Chicago.

Mr Charlie

September 11th, 2011
11:59 am

Plus the guy blocking Abraham is not very good. In addition, I noticed Edwards is not on any of the injury reports or missing practices. I think we might roll today.

Athens Dawg

September 11th, 2011
12:02 pm

Let’s not forget our defensive tackles that also have the ability to get after the QB with Babineaux and Peria Jerry. Those guys are also explosive, can get off blocks and get to the QB. So Cutler better be ready for pressure.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 11th, 2011
12:05 pm

Ben Roeth-rapist-berger

September 11th, 2011
11:46 am
Mr Charlie, Choke would argue 2 of the 10 years don’t count since DogKiller7 was doing hard time.

______________________________________

The Irony is that he spent 2 years in prison and came back to win another division title in his 1st year as starter in a new system :)

Now back our new episode of “How The CHOKE Turns” :)

Mr Charlie

September 11th, 2011
12:05 pm

I am interested in seeing what Jerry can do. I also expect Moore to be a top tier safety. I just don’t see Chicago doing much offensively.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 11th, 2011
12:08 pm

I am just waiting for Vick’s 1st home game next week in Atlanta :)

Mr Charlie

September 11th, 2011
12:10 pm

Ohhh, now a division title is a big thing. After 8 years, Vick got a division title. Wooo….The more you talk, the more you are exposed.

Again, I think Vick is the 2nd best QB in the NFC East, behind Rex.

But the reality is, Vick tends to peak early, but once D’s make adjustments, he becomes a liability…Exhibit 1, his career as a Falcon.

Mr Charlie

September 11th, 2011
12:12 pm

I remember when Vick won at Green Bay, his supporters had us convinced he would have 5 SB trophies by the time he was 30. Well, now he is 30, and Rex Grossman has more superbowl experience than Vick…..NOW CHOKE talks about how he won a division title last year. Put him in the HOF.

Bellefay1

September 11th, 2011
12:13 pm

I support this young woman’s feelings for Julio.

http://img204.imageshack.us/img204/7127/julio600×450.jpg

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 11th, 2011
12:15 pm

72 – Million = ZERO Playoff wins.

Oh I’m sorry B-Y-E counts as playoff wins :)

Losers think a like.

Since 2008:

Flacco – 2 playoff wins as rookie

Sanchez – 2 playoff wins as rookie

CHOKE – Well………UH……Oops :)

Mr Charlie

September 11th, 2011
12:15 pm

If I told you in 2002 that Vicks biggest achievement would be a division in 2010, then get bounced in the WC round, and somebody would tell me that show his greatness…..Well, he has even underachieved my low expectations. Rex da man in the NFC east.

mountain_jim

September 11th, 2011
12:16 pm

I am just thrilled the Falcons are back playing for real, and thus I can reduce my interest in the Braves commensurate with their crappy late-season collapse.

I am concerned with protection up the middle for Matt, he needs that to go downfield to Julio early and often.

GO FALCONS!

mountain_jim

September 11th, 2011
12:17 pm

Bellefay1 – looks like she is supporting her feelings quite adequately.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 11th, 2011
12:17 pm

What’s really funny is both Chris Johnson & Adrian Peterson both have been extended from their rookie contracts.

I guess Blank just doesn’t love his qb – well the one in Atlanta :)

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 11th, 2011
12:19 pm

48-21 are you kidding me :)

Mr Charlie

September 11th, 2011
12:19 pm

No choke, losers count meaningless things. Like Vicks 100mil contract, all hype to feed his ignorant fans to are not smart enough to understand concepts.

A WC win gets you as far as a bye, it ain’t how many you win in the playoffs, it is how far you get.

Reality, in 10 seasons, Vick has gotten 1 game farther than Ice has in 3. Whoo Hooo. Break out the parade, set up the wing at the HOF.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 11th, 2011
12:20 pm

A PICK 6 to end the half in the BIGGEST game of the season………..

Are you kidding me :)

Mr Charlie

September 11th, 2011
12:21 pm

You realize Vicks the last year of Vicks 100m contract voids if he takes more than 35% of the snaps in any season? What a fraud he is, I feel sorry for his ignorant, uneducated fans.

Mr Charlie

September 11th, 2011
12:23 pm

Throw a pic in the endzone on the game winning (or game losing) drive? Are you kidding me?

Dr. Warren

September 11th, 2011
12:23 pm

Something tells me that we have a new Matt Choke Ryan today–that is, unless the old one took a few English classes to learn basic grammar. Whatever the case, the logical fallacy is his tool of choice. (And I do mean “tool”).

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 11th, 2011
12:23 pm

I mean seriously what IDIOT throws a PICK 6 to end the half on the BIGGEST game of the season :)

What a MORON :)

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 11th, 2011
12:25 pm

I wonder which game is FOX carrying nationally at 1:00 :)

Mr Charlie

September 11th, 2011
12:26 pm

Well, at least Ice’s biggest game of the season was in the playoffs, Vicks biggest game of his last season here was when we lost to Cleveland, hence effectively clinching non-playoff season, which became the norm here in Atlanta.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 11th, 2011
12:27 pm

26 years old an ZERO playoff wins………….

That’s just plain sorry :)

mountain_jim

September 11th, 2011
12:27 pm

I think “CHOKE” is really Jeff, boosting page view counts. And many of you fall for it.

If “CHOKE” did not exist, Jeff would have to invent him.

Mr Charlie

September 11th, 2011
12:28 pm

10 years, 1 non WC playoff win? Now that is a hoot.

Athens Dawg

September 11th, 2011
12:33 pm

Choke is such a hater. He wouldn’t be here if he wasn’t. Tell the haters hello and go on about your day guys.

Final

September 11th, 2011
12:34 pm

Atl 24 Chi 19

Joel

September 11th, 2011
12:35 pm

Bill Cowher just picked Pittsburg v Atlanta in Superbowl