Friday, September 19, 2008

Sleeping With the Enemy: Week Three, Chiefs @ Falcons

It's time once again for another episode of "Sleeping With the Enemy," and this week we're coming out you from the Household of our very own Old No. 7. He's not very happy to be hosting the wife and I, and he's even grumpier that I'm using his computer to write about the Chiefs. Thus, I've snuck around and made myself scarce, and am left to hammer out this post and get it published early.After an impressive season-opener in New England, and the most embarrassing game in NFL history in week two's loss to Lane Kiffin's Raiders, the Chiefs are again on the road, and look to get win number one at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons. Gerald from Bleacher Report was kind enough to join us this week, and you can find samples of his high-quality writings about the dirty birds over at Flying High. Our conversation about this Chiefs-Falcons matchup, after the jump.

Bankmeister: I'll be honest from the get-go: I know very little about the Falcons, and if it weren't for fantasy football, the Vick trials, and the AFC West transactions with Atlanta in the off-season, I probably wouldn't know anything. I do pay some attention to the draft, but not much beyond my own team. Obviously Matt Ryan went to Atlanta, but how, in your opinion did the Falcons fare otherwise this past April?

Gerald: The Falcons had a very good draft if you look at the overall picture of what the team needed. Many fans were just dying to add Glenn Dorsey to the roster but this team needed a QB in the very worst way. Besides Ryan, OT Sam Baker from USC filled a need and so far has done very well for a rookie thrown right into the mix. The Falcons added some depth at LB, DE, CB, and WR. Many of the new faces have already been in the starting lineup and have had to grow up quickly. Post draft I would rate the Falcons as a B+ but as anyone knows it takes at least 2 full seasons before the jury is completely in on any draft.

B: Tell me about the 53-man roster. Ryan being a rookie will have its ups and downs I'm sure, but he's got Michael Jenkins and Roddy White to throw to, so that's a plus. A backfield with Jerious Norwood and Michael Turner sounds pretty threatening. What, in your estimation, are the strengths and weaknesses of this club?

G: Running back is certainly a position of strength right now. Despite last Sunday's setback in Tampa, this running back tandem can run over almost any team right now. Once the OL improves there will be no stopping them. Speaking of OL, that would be an area of great concern for the Falcons. Last week Sam Baker went down with an injury (he's back this week) and there was a noticeable reduction in pass protection and run production. So far the starters have been a capable bunch but once one of them goes down, their stability and their production drops signifigantly. WR is quickly becomming a strength with White, Jenkins, and second year player Laurent Robinson. The DL has a true beast in John Abraham but on the other side is Jamaal Anderson who has not proved that he is worth last years #8 overall pick. Our CB's are tiny but so far have handled the big boys pretty well. So if I were to pin it down to a single strength and a single weakness, I'd go RB and OL.

B: Regarding fan impression, how do the Falcons faithful view this club in the aftermath of Mike Vick's situation and Bobby Petrino bailing? I heard an unfounded rumor that ticket sales were not good at all, and that there may even be some flailing overall enthusiasm for this team, from its fans.

G: The Falcon faithful are just that, faithful. Sadly their numbers are few and far between. The majority of the fans that go to the home games are fair weathered fans who rise on fall with the teams win/loss record. The departure of Mike Vick had thousands of "fans" returning their tickets. Atlanta sports teams have always had a history of fickle fans. For years it was the excuse that Atlanta was a transient city and with so many transplants the home teams had trouble drawing fans. The truth is that Atlanta sportsfans will come when you win and there hasn't been much winning in Atlanta for years. The real fans are very excited about the teams' new GM (Thomas Dimitroff from the Patriots), Coach (Mike Smith from the Jags), and all the new faces. The general consensus is that this team finally has a top level front office in place and with that the team will achieve the success that has eluded them for so many years.

B: The off-season was an interesting one for Atlanta and the AFC West. The Broncos sent over Domonique Foxworth, and Jason Elam was nabbed as well. DeAngelo Hall was allegedly unhappy, and now he's a Raider. And the Chiefs nabbed Demorrio Williams via free-agency. All of these moves are interesting considering it happened to be prior to the season the NFC South plays the AFC West. Do you think each of these moves were good ones for the organization? I mean, certainly the Falcons front office does, but how about fans and media?

G: The new front office certainly took no time to in cleaning house and creating their own blueprint for winning. If they felt you didnt fit the new mold or had questionable character, you were'nt going to be part of the new Falcons. DeAngelo Hall and his antics would no longer be tolerated. Based on how he played against Denver two weeks ago, it was a great move.

Williams is a good young player whom the Falcons probably wanted to keep, but not at what KC was offering. So far the fans have had few problems with the offseason moves. Sure it took time to swallow and digest but as things progress I think the fans are seeing the big picture rather than just a single season. No one likes to say goodbye to players who helped shape the past. Guys like Warrick Dunn and Alge Crumpler were marquee players on this team but all good things come to an end and it was time for them and this team to move forward. As far as the media...they have never been one to like anything the Falcons do and the fans have learned to tune them out years ago.

<B: How about the departure of Alge Crumpler affect the offense? And how will the defense hold up through 17 weeks. They gave up 20+ points in weeks one and two, but that might be par for the course. Clearly Mike Smith is a defensive-minded head coach, and he has an awesome defensive phenom assistant in former Chief Emmitt Thomas. Brian VanGorder is the mystery in the mix as far as I'm concerned. Is three too many defensive minds working for a common goal, or is it the perfect mix?

G: With the new offense run by Mike Mularkey, the emphasis on the tight end will be as more of a blocker. Crumpler, while being a great player, was as successful as he was in Atlanta due mainly to Michael Vick. He was Vick's favorite target and many feel that was because Vick had difficulty reading the defense and used Crumpler soley as his primary target even when the play called for him to be the safety valve.

B: This weekend's game could actually be a sleeper. I imagine that the Chief (or anybody) could play worse football than they did last Sunday against Oakland. They've had trouble stopping the run, and they'll certainly have their hands full with Turner. How do you see this matchup panning out?

G: The Falcons are coming off a big loss and the arrest of team leader Lawyer Milloy on a DUI charge. Matt Ryan was harrassed all day last week and got his official "Welcome to the NFL, Rookie" game out of the way. I expect the Falcons to respond big this week. Coach Mike Smith will have this team inspired and fired up. Watch for the run game to be established early and often given KC's history over the past two weeks. Expect Matt Ryan to be more of a complimentary factor rather than in the spotlight. Mike Mularkey will continue to earn his nickname of "Inspector Gadget" by incorporating several unique and dazzling plays into the mix. Dont expect a large crowd or the noise to be a factor in anyway. Despite last weeks adversity and lack of a large home crowd the Falcons should run wild over the Chiefs: Falcons 27 Chiefs 13.

B: Excellent analysis, and an interesting score prediction, Gerald. I think, given that the Atlanta offensive line is, as you estimated, the weakness, that that could be a bit generous to give the Chiefs 13 points given that they managed 10 in week one, and a mere eight last Sunday. Nevertheless, I'm hoping beyond hope that Tyler Thigpen acts like he's been in a football game before when the Chiefs offense takes the field. He couldn't have looked more lost than he did at home versus the Raiders, and if I were in the KC front office, I'd be looking to cut him if he repeats that performance in Georgia. I will, however, play the homer card, and predict a Chiefs win. And, heck, since you gave them 13, I'll raise you a point, and say that the visiting squad takes the victory, 14-10.

Either way, the House is grateful to have had you over as a guest. Come back and visit us again sometime.


Unknown said...

Thigpens coming out or on his way out game is this week. somethings has to give.The boys have lost 11 straight regular season games they are due a win.

Johnny Utah said...

I was at the Chiefs game last week as an observer, and for morale support.

Turner is indeed the "burner" he was at Northern Illinois. And I still say he gets 1400 yds this year... Cha ching, Banky, I didn"t forget...

This week, the Chiefs hold him to less than a hundred and escape with a 17-14 victory. A 2008 coming out party for LJ as he has a big day.