Aug 8, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith shown on the field during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals during the second half at the Georgia Dome. The Bengals defeated the Falcons 34-10. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
September is a great month to pass a test and a great way to start the year getting a jump on the long road ahead, be it the school year or football season it is a confidence builder and opens the door for future goals. The Atlanta Falcons face a variety of tests on Sunday when they travel to Louisiana for a playoff type match against division rival New Orleans. Will they pass or fail to start the 2013 season?
Test One- Science. Covering the tight ends of opposing teams has been systematized, studied and factually documented to give the Falcon linebackers enough of a headache to dismiss and go see the nurse. Even prior to the arrival of Mike Nolan this was an area of concern and last year it really hurt the Birds in a few games. The duo of Jimmy Graham and Ben Watson are as good a tight end team as Atlanta will see all year, so it is not rocket science Nolan has to scheme for this pop quiz as a top defensive priority. This is one area Atlanta needs to study the book of Hagiology and get the answer to this long time problem so to utilize the formula against future encounters like New England and San Francisco.
Test Two- Math. What do five safeties and six running backs equate to? From articles I have read since the final roster cuts I’m summarizing value on special teams. Special teams are a calculated hand picked group by coaching staffs that can dictate the coveted field position each successful team desires.
The Falcons test will be to contain Darren Sproles and perhaps subtract a turnover or maybe add crucial points.
Test Three- Art. Flashy and fluid Harry Douglas is not only the Birds number three receiver but is a high possibility to get touches at punt or kick return duty. In 2012 H.D brought in one touchdown. The appraisal in 2013 is expectedly higher for this five year veteran. If Harry quintuples his touchdown output this season it will be a beautiful work of Art, and for starters, New Orleans is a good place to paint the city.
Test Four- Recess. What? Ridiculous ? Recess can have many a test. The school bully coming your way, the new kid on the playground scenario, or a girl trying you out for a conversation just to name a few. Sean Peyton returns to a no doubt frenzied crowd and still has slinger Drew Brees at the helm. Number one pick Desmond Trufant already has a bulls-eye on his jersey in the game plan of the Saints. A rookie cornerback is going to be tested by any team. No better way to get your feathers than against a division rival, a hostile environment and some very talented opposition. After some nervousness, a little safety help, this is a good test for our cornerback of the future. A big test start for the whole defense really.
Test Five- History. Four score and seven years – no, – actually it was twenty three months ago that Stephen Jackson last faced the New Orleans Saints. He was as we all know a Battering Ram then. The Saints had a hard time with him on that October 2011 day, as Stephen ran for 159 yards and caught a few passes for another 32 yards. He scored two touchdowns. Teams defensively planned back in them days against Jackson as the one weapon to mitigate. The Saints defense will be improved from last year but maybe not enough to keep Jackson from another historical day against them, because he is surrounded by a cast that can’t be demoted to second tier talent. If the Atlanta defense has a test on this opening day, imagine what the New Orleans defense must be studying for history not to repeat itself.
The Big Bang theory – Math, Science, History, Unraveling the mystery. When talking football and discussing the most important season opener for the Birds under the Smith – Ryan regime, Atlanta could fail more than half of these tests and as long as the “W’ is on our side when the gun sounds at the end of the fourth quarter, then the Big Bang heard in the South will be the Saints hitting the basement of the division while the Falcons start the 2013 season on the familiar lofty perch as the South’s Valedictorian.