Ask the Expert: Jim Trotter

Reggie Roberts: You were at the Falcons-Chargers game on Sunday.  What were your takeaways from Atlanta's 27-3 win over San Diego?

Jim Trotter: My primary takeaway was how fast and confident the Falcons played. There is a different feel to this year's team. It's hard to put into words, but the guys appear to be a half-step faster than a year ago. They also speak about being energized by the change in schemes on offense and defense. 

RR: By now, I am sure that you've seen the highlights from the Ravens-Patriots game. Was the kick by Justin Tucker good?

JT: There is no way to tell via the TV angles whether the kick was good, but from my vantage point I thought it sailed inside the goal posts before drifting wide. But, again, without a camera on the upright or the goal post, there's no legitimate way to know. 

RR: It seemed like the Arizona Cardinals were going to have a long season what with all of the controversy they had at QB when the season started.  They are 3-0 and one of three NFL undefeated teams.  Are they the surprise team of the year thus far?

JT: Without question, the Cardinals are the surprise (positive) team of 2012. Most thought they would struggle to stay out of the basement in their division because of their perceived issues at quarterback, but coordinator Ray Horton has his defense playing lights out and QB Kevin Kolb is protecting the football.

RR: Let's switch back the Falcons.  QB Matt Ryan seemingly is playing with a lot more confidence and his QB rating of 114.0 leads the NFL.  What's different with Ryan this season?

JT: I think Matt is more experienced and has a type of kindred spirit in new coordinator Dirk Koetter, who played quarterback in college. I also think Matt is benefitting from better protection and the development of second-year wide out Julio Jones, who benefitted from a full offseason with the coaching staff after being prohibited from having contact with the team during last year's lockout.

RR: Is there reason for concern in San Francisco with the road loss to Minnesota or was this just a blip on the screen?

JT: No reason for concern at all. Teams are going to lose in the NFL. Only two have gone through a regular season undefeated during the Super Bowl era. San Francisco was coming off two big wins over 2011 playoff teams, had to travel across the country, and probably took the Vikings lightly after Minnesota had one of the league's worst records last season.

RR: It seems like the Houston Texans might be the NFL's most complete team.  What's your take on the Texans?

JT: Just what you said, that the Texans are one of the league's most complete teams. They can run and throw, are strong on defense, and are solid on special teams. What's not to like?

RR: And finally, what were the three most impressive aspects of Atlanta's win over the Chargers in your view? JT: Their ability to convert on third down, thanks to great protection and quick decision-making of Ryan. Their ability to pressure QB Philip Rivers, force four turnovers and shut down an offense that hadn't been held without touchdown since 2002. And their ability to rise to the challenge of traveling across the country to face an undefeated team after an emotional win and short week.

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