Falcons vice president of football communications Reggie Roberts talks to Charean Williams, a writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegraph about all things NFL:
Reggie Roberts: Give us an update of how things are going with the Dallas Cowboys. Will they be much improved and do the Cowboys have a chance to become the first team in League History to play in a Super Bowl in their own stadium?
Charean Williams: They have 20 starters back from last year's team and drafted receiver Dez Bryant and linebacker Sean Lee, both of whom look like they're going to be really good players. But I don't know that this team will be better than it was last season. They had a chance last season, and they are one of a handful of teams with a chance to win the NFC this year. Owner Jerry Jones has made it well known to his players where the Super Bowl is being played this season. He had Charles Haley, Roger Staubach and Michael Irvin speak to the team this off-season. But just because the Super Bowl is in Cowboys Stadium gives the Cowboys no added advantage. If the Cowboys are going to get to the Super Bowl, they need to get home-field advantage in the playoffs. To get home-field advantage: Their offense will have to improve on its red-zone efficiency from last season; the defense will have to have more takeaways than it had last season; and the special teams will have to have improved field-goal accuracy.
RR: What's your take on what continues to be a soap opera regarding Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings?
CW: Can he just retire already? I love watching the man play but hate his offseason drama. We all know he is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. But at some point, he is going to hit the wall. I'd hate to have him retire a year too late. He has a good enough running game and a good enough defense that the Vikings will be in every game. But if he can't keep his turnovers to a minimum, which he did last year, the Vikings have no chance to do what he returned to do. We saw that in the NFC Championship game last year. The Vikings had 32 first downs... and lost.
RR: Who do you like in the NFC South division and tell us your thoughts on the Saints, Buccaneers, Panthers and Falcons?
CW: As defending Super Bowl champions, and with Drew Brees back, the Saints are a good bet to repeat as NFC South champions. I know it's a difficult thing to repeat in that division and even more difficult to repeat as Super Bowl champions. But Sean Payton and Brees have done a good job of keeping that team grounded. The Falcons are my darkhorse. They are one of the handful of teams — six at most — that have a chance in the NFC. They have all the look of a playoff team, and a team you probably would rather not play in the playoffs. The Bucs are rebuilding, and the Panther should be better but still have too many question marks.
RR: Which NFL team just might be the surprise of the 2010 season?
CW: The Falcons are my darkhorse in the NFC. The Texans should make the playoffs for the first time in their history, and have a chance, with that offense, to win a playoff game or two in the AFC.
RR: What are you hearing from the camp of the Arizona Cardinals?
CW: The jury still is out on Matt Leinart, and that team will go as far as Matt Leinart can carry them.
RR: Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers has had an amazing preseason. Do you think the Packers are a playoff team and is Rodgers good enough to get them to the NFL's Championship game?
CW: The Packers are my pick to win it all. (In the preseason last year, I picked the Saints to win it all.). I think Rodgers is ready to become a top-five NFL quarterback, which is why I picked them. He is good and on the verge of being great. He will make Packers fans forget about Brett Favre.
RR: What are you hearing on the labor front from a CBA standpoint?
CW: Not much, which is a concern. I think they are a long, long way from getting this done. I keep saying that I will be very surprised if we are in training camp at this time next year. I hope I'm wrong.