The Falcons have been in the position of having a bye week through the first round of the playoffs before, previously in 2010. This season the Falcons and head coach Mike Smith are doing things a little differently, starting with the amount of rest they're getting. Smith said on Wednesday the volume of work will be higher this year than it was in 2010, but he added that the team hasn't practiced in pads since Week 10 of this season and won't start now.
Smith calls this week "Falcons on Falcons," a week of practice that works like scrimmages and the type of practices seen during training camp. Some aspects of the Falcons on Falcons practices involve chunks of Mike Nolan's or Dirk Koetter's systems as the other side of the ball tries to stop it. Other aspects involve using looks the Falcons have seen repeatedly over the course of the year, similar in nature to a scout team's objective in a normal week, but far less formal and opponent-specific.
The main thing they're trying to accomplish is just staying engaged with football.
"Just getting better at the fundamentals," Justin Blalock said. "Obviously we don't know our opponent yet, so the gist of it is practicing against what Mike Nolan's defense does and vice versa. Those are things we've seen since training camp, but just so we can get out there and stay in the football mentality until we know what team we need to game plan for."
It's a big week mentally for the coaching staff. Not only are they helping the Falcons improve in their own games, they're beginning to scout potential opponents, specifically the Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings and the Washington Redskins, one of which the Falcons will play in the divisional round.
"For the staff, (Wednesday) will be the day we work on Seattle," Smith said. "We'll work on Minnesota tomorrow and then on Friday we'll work on the Washington Redskins. The reason we picked that sequence is because we haven't played Seattle, we know a little bit about Minnesota since (Vikings offensive coordinator) Bill Musgrave was on our staff and we played Washington earlier in the year. We'll be working as a staff the rest of the day and we'll put that to rest and switch gears
The Falcons have four practices this week and will be off on Sunday before they return next week for a typical week's routine.