Readers ask about spying on Russell Wilson, the Falcons' playoffs chances, play calling

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Welcome to a rare game-day edition of Straight from the 'Beek! The Falcons are in Seattle for Monday night's showdown with the Seahawks – and you've got plenty of questions. Just remember that all opinions you see in this space are mine, unless otherwise noted.

So, let's get to them.

Tom from Edmonton, Canada

Greetings from the Great White North, Matt! How do you feel about the Falcons defense spying Russell Wilson, maybe with De'Vondre Campbell? I loved watching Campbell's mic'd up video with him saying, "Put me on Dak so he can't scramble no more."

Matt: Hey there, Tom. Yes, considering how dangerous Russell Wilson can be – especially once he gets outside the pocket – you can bet there will be more than one set of eyes on him. And, as you noted, if there's one player who's capable of doing so, it is Campbell. He's had a fantastic season so far (59 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble) and is extremely versatile – he can rush the quarterback, he's solid against the run and is more than capable in pass coverage. Falcons coach Dan Quinn talked extensively about Wilson this past week, noting that he's "been especially impressed by him this year [with] his ability to extend plays and the deep balls, the explosive passes that are not of the catch-and-run variety, but are the deep shot plays. I think that part of their game is really impressive right now."


Aaron from Griffin, GA

Hey, Beek. I am really enjoying what you do here. I'm going to get straight to the point. My question is, what do you think the chances are of the Falcons making the playoffs? My last one is, why hasn't Vic Beasley been a factor that much this season?

Matt: Hey, Aaron. Appreciate the kind words. Regarding the playoffs, right now the Falcons' chances are as good as most teams right now – outside of the obvious ones who will most likely not make it in, like the Browns (0-10), 49ers (1-9) and Giants (2-8). The Falcons have everything still in the table and still control their own destiny, especially with five division games still to play. I'm not going to make any predictions, though. That would be pointless – because so much could still happen with the teams in front of them, too. The Falcons will take it one game at a time – that's something coach Dan Quinn stresses quite a bit. If they do that and can string some wins together, they'll be in good shape. First, however, they must take of care of business Monday night. Regarding Beasley, you've got to remember that he missed time this season with an injured hamstring. In the seven games he did play in, he's tallied four sacks, forced a fumble and made 18 tackles. As long as he stays healthy throughout this critical final stretch, that's what matters. He's a difference-maker when he's on the field. And with Adrian Clayborn playing so well, it will only help both players.


Ken from Lawrenceville, GA

I'm wondering if there is any chance that Steve Sarkisian might have learned something last week. All season he has been trying to make the Falcons a running team, while most of their success last year was as a passing team. While I realize that both are important, the Falcons have been better in the passing game. Some teams need to get the running game going to have a passing game, but it seems that the Falcons need to get their passing game going to have a decent running game. Last week they started as the same listless team from the previous several weeks, running the ball, but when Devonta Freeman was injured, the play calling changed to a passing game, and voilà, they looked like last year's team. He has been calling 50-60 percent running plays while their strength is in the passing game.

Matt: Ken, if you go back and watch the game, the Falcons did not go away from the running game after Freeman was injured on their first offensive series. In fact, they relied heavily on it with Tevin Coleman and Terron Ward combining for 29 carries and 106 rushing yards and a touchdown. Falcons coach Dan Quinn has said repeatedly that so much of their offense is predicated on getting the ground game going – and it's true. Keep in mind, too, that they're always going to take what the defense gives them – so that'll dictate some play calls as well. Hope that helps.


Quinton from Ashburn, GA

Hey, Beek. Love your say on the Falcons. Falcons fan until I die. Literally. This is only my second time writing to you, though. I just wanted to ask why everyone gives so much flak about Matt Ryan? It's really unfair. I mean, he is obviously one of the league's best quarterbacks, but no one wants to admit it. It just makes me angry that he is still so underrated even after all he had done in his first Super Bowl appearance ever. I'd say that was dang good, and he could very well get back there. There is always more work to do and I always see him working towards it. Every game he's had you can see it. He never stops or lays down or gives up, unlike others. He steps up, tries his best, and admits his follies and fixes them. That's all I need in an A QB. People need to give that man his credit. Even the great Tom Brady admitted it, and it wasn't just to be polite. When will the rest of them? I mean, you don't earn MVP for no reason. Just saying.

Matt: Thanks for your comments, Quinton. I think Matt Ryan's body of work speaks for itself. Anyone with any sort of credibility – who knows the game – will tell you that. And I'll leave it at that.


Connor from Wyandach, NY

Hey Beek. What do you think our chances are of realistically making the playoffs? We beat Seattle then it's my understanding that we would be in position to take the second wild-card spot.

Matt: Hey, Connor. It's still very early to be talking playoffs in my opinion, but we're getting to that point where some teams will be able to clinch their division titles soon – like the Eagles in the NFC East. So, I get the questions. As I noted above, the Falcons still control their destiny with seven games (including five divisional opponents) left. As it stands as this very moment, the Falcons are on the outside looking in. But, that should change with a win over the Seahawks on Monday night. They would have a 6-4 record at that point – same as the Lions, a team they already beat.


Gus from Gaithersburg, MD

Hello again Beek! Haven't chimed in for a while but I do read all the posts week in and week out. Question: Back in the day, in meetings with Seattle, Richard Sherman Always covered Roddy White. Enter Julio Jones and since then, Sherman has been on Jones every game between the two teams. With Sherman out and both Steve Sarkisian and Dan Quinn expressing their thoughts on wanting Jones to get more touches, how do you think they will utilize this opportunity and do you see Julio play lights out on this opportunity?

Matt: Hey, Gus – thanks for your question. Even if the Seahawks were at full strength in their secondary, the Falcons would still target Julio Jones quite a bit. That's always in the game plan. And now with Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor out, you can bet the Falcons will target Jones and test whoever is playing those positions for Seattle (it appears will be Jeremy Lane and Brady McDougald).

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