I asked Dave the Falconer over at The Falcoholic five questions about this Sunday's opponent, the Atlanta Falcons.
1. How has rookie QB Matt Ryan played? Based on QB ratings alone, he seems inconsistent from game to game.
He's been very inconsistent, but I think that's what you have to expect from a rookie quarterback. What's impressed me most with Ryan so far is that despite his happy feet and penchant for a few mistakes, he's remained very calm throughout. That kind of poise will serve him well when the Falcons are expected to contend in a year or so. Against the Packers, I'd expect him to have a fair-to-middling game, something like 14/27 with 150 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. He's not good enough yet to carry this team.
The offense is all about Turner--which isn't necessarily a good thing. Turner has struggled against strong defenses, partly because our offensive line has been pretty ineffective in run blocking. When he's able to get space, however, there are few backs with the same blend of power and speed, and he'll take off. Currently, if Turner's running for over 100 yards, the Falcons have a fantastic chance of winning the game. If he doesn't, they're probably down by 14.
There were knocks on Sam Baker's tiny arms before the draft, but clearly that was just scouts being dumb. Baker's been the absolute anchor of this line so far, and there's a noticeable difference in blocking when he's in the game. He's been somewhat limited by a concussion and other ailments, but he's definitely been our best rookie thus far this year.
Our defense hasn't given up a lot of points, but the secondary is a real concern against the Packers. The Falcons are sorely lacking in pass rush despite having a reasonably tough line and one of the best linebacking corps in the league. If Aaron Rodgers plays this weekend, you guys would seem likely to put up more than 24 points against the league's youngest secondary. Your rushing game doesn't really worry me, though.
He's doing a quality job with this team. He's been given a year to get this team in order and put a very young team on the winning track, and he's gone about it the right way. I wish he'd limit Matt Ryan to fewer than 40 passes when we're down, but that's probably not going to happen given this team's offensive weapons. I think he's a good coach, though, and I'm looking forward to the future in Atlanta.