Last season on days after Falcons' victories, Head Coach Mike Smith would declare "Victory Monday," so the players would not have to show up to the team's Flowery Branch practice facility. I have not heard officially yet if today will be a victory Monday, but it's a pretty good bet. It's the kind of thing that endears players to a coach. (Did you hear Fox sideline reporter Tony Siragusa, who played for Smith, throwing props Smitty's way yesterday?) After all is there anything that any of us like better than being rewarded for good work with a day off?
Nonetheless, Smith will be present to answer questions from the media. Game's like Sunday's 45-10 victory over San Francisco will be sure to ratchet up interest in the 3-1 Birds, especially with the Georgia Bulldogs at (gasp!) 3-3.
In the postgame discussion on cable television one of the more interesting things I heard was a comment from ESPN's Chris Mortenson after he spoke to Falcons' quarterback Matt Ryan. It seems the Falcons' coaching staff made a conscious choice to open up the passing game in order to pave the way for the run. I'd like to hear more about that. Seems like it worked.
On the same roundtable discussion on ESPN, Chris Berman came with this stat: The Falcons are 6-0 after a loss in the Smith-Thomas Dimitroff-Matt Ryan Era. If anything is a testament to a winning organization and a quality coaching staff, it's a stat like that. Remember: When the Falcons went into New England and lost, it extended a streak of some 40 or 50 weeks in which the Patriots had not suffered consecutive losses. And the Patriots are considered the league's gold standard, as far as winning organizations.
Just to probe about the offense a little more, I'd like to know if Smith and/or Ryan thinks that the offense needed five weeks to click like it did on Sunday. This what we all expected the offense to look like from the get-go, but it sputtered more often than not. Considering the Falcons went 2-1 with a sputtering offense shows how talented this group is.
Until Sunday, Ryan and wide receiver Roddy White clearly had difficulty getting in sync. I don't buy that White's holdout had anything to do with it. He missed about a week of a 44-day camp. They had plenty of time to get it going.
Maybe the return of running back Jerious Norwood also was a factor, which would explain the 0-for-4 second-half third-down conversion rate against New England that proved so fatal. Smith said last week that Norwood adds speed to the offense. If anything, speed is something that New England's defense doesn't have. At the game's outset, Fox broadcaster Daryl Johnston said he thought Norwood was set up to have a good day against San Francisco. Looks like he was right. Norwood had a nice day on Sunday with 44 yards on 12 carries. (He also caught one pass for minus-6 yards. Apparently, Norwood's speed didn't matter much on that play.)
But Sunday finally seemed evidence of the Falcons' having too many offensive weapons to defend, even for a team that was supposed to have one of the league's elite defenses.