There aren't a lot of things a coach can do to prepare his defense to face one of the best quarterbacks to ever spin a ball.
This week to prepare for their matchup with Peyton Manning and his no-huddle offense from Denver, the defense is working out of a no huddle frequently in practice to help them develop communication on the field in situations where a huddle isn't an option.
While a practice squad can only help simulate Denver's offense so much, head coach Mike Smith has implemented a creative strategy to help the defense prepare for the in-game situations they may encounter.
Typically on road-game weeks, in preparation for a loud stadium, crowd noise and music will be played during certain practice sessions to help simulate a loud atmosphere that makes on-field offensive play calling challenging.
In a creative twist, Smith is using that same noise strategy in practice to help the defense prepare for a loud Georgia Dome as they face Manning's offense. Smith anticipates the home crowd to be zealous when Manning and the offense are on the field in their no-huddle offense. It's one of the ways he can help the defense prepare for what it will be like to face Manning on Monday night.
"It's very hard to simulate (Manning)," Smith said. "The thing we are doing is we're working with the crowd noise with our defense. If they go into the no huddle we've got to be prepared to be able to communicate on the defensive side of the ball. Everybody always talks about crowd noise on the road, but there's crowd noise at home that affects one side of your team as well. I think it's very important when you're facing a no-huddle team that you have great communication on the defensive side so we've been working on that this week."
One of the keys to the communication on defense is ensuring every player is where he needs to be. With practice in a loud situation, Atlanta's defense will be better prepared to make adjustments on the fly when the Georgia Dome is roaring and not miss a step. The players have made it clear that they understand if they're out of position, Manning will exploit what he believes is a crack in their armor.