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Insider Report: Inside News on the Atlanta Falcons

December 6th, 2013 at 3:51 PM
By Sean Tehan

Sports Media 101 doesn't consist of only one team, but all professional teams across all major professional sports. This week, we get the luxury of getting an inside scoop on the Green Bay Packers upcoming opponent, the Atlanta Falcons.

We sat down and spoke with Graham Waldrop, editor of Falcons 101, to get some inside information on the Browns, as the Packers will look to win their third consecutive game of the season against the surprising dawgs. 

1. The Atlanta Falcons have already clinched their first losing season since 2007, what has to be done the rest of the season and what are the chances head coach Mike Smith keeps his job after the season?
It's been a tough year for the Falcons to say the least. The expectations were sky high in the city of a potential Super Bowl championship, so the losing season has really hurt this franchise. Young guys have to get a chance to show they can play so that there can be some momentum heading into the offseason. Rookie tight end Levine Toilolo will probably get some more chances given the fact that Tony Gonzalez is set to retire after the year. The offensive line has been a revolving door of younger and older players that simply have not gotten the job done. It would be great if the Falcons can find a good combination on the O-line before the end of the year. Mike Smith has been assured that his job is safe by GM Thomas Dimitroff and owner Arthur Blank. They feel like he's done such great work in his time here (2 division titles, four playoff appearances, one playoff win, five straight winning seasons) that he deserves a chance to turn this thing around, regardless of how the Falcons finish.
2. Since the Packers lost quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a broken collarbone injury, Green Bay is 0-4-1. Rodgers originally said he would return on Sunday to play the Falcons, but the Packers officially ruled him out of this weekend's game on Friday. How do you believe the Falcons will plan to defend a Rodgers-less Packers' offense?
The Falcons have always struggled to defend Aaron Rodgers, so it's good to know he won't be playing on Sunday. The Packers without Rodgers though doesn't change the fact that the Falcons have a nearly non-existent pass rush (22 sacks this season, 2nd worst in the NFL). Without a solid pass rush, Matt Flynn could pick apart the Falcons secondary. The Falcons have two rookie cornerbacks, Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford, who have experienced some growing pains this year. Without Rodgers though, expect the Falcons to play bump and run coverage on the outside against the Packers' receivers to try and make sure they don't get open in a timely manner. It might not matter though if Atlanta can't generate any pass rush.
3. The Falcons were supposed to be a Super Bowl contender this season, what has been the root of Atlanta's problems this year?
Injuries have been a big reason for their problems. Wide receiver Roddy White has played through injury all year and losing fellow wide receiver Julio Jones to an ankle injury didn't help the Falcons either. Missing both White and Jones has really limited the Falcons explosive passing game from a year ago. Besides White and Jones, the Falcons have been without star linebacker Sean Weatherspoon most of the season, lost offensive tackle Mike Johnson in training camp and fullback Brady Ewing in the preseason. Another issue is the offensive line, which has allowed 30 sacks this season. The offensive line is full of inconsistent run and pass blockers, the chief root of Atlanta's problems this year. 
4. If the Atlanta Falcons are going to win this game, they are going to have to do what?
The offensive line needs to better protect Matt Ryan against the formidable Packers' pass rush. It's a nightmare of a matchup for this struggling offensive line, and if the Packers continue to rush the passer effectively, there is virtually no chance that the Falcons will win. Ryan will need to throw for at least 250 yards and spread the ball out between Harry Douglas, White and Gonzalez. The Falcons must find a way to contain running back Eddie Lacy and make Matt Flynn beat the Falcons with his arm. Matt Ryan will need to limit the turnovers as well. He has fared much better at home than on the road in this department. He's been a turnover machine on the road this season, so limiting the turnovers is a big factor for the Falcons having a shot to win on Sunday.
5. Final Prediction?
If Aaron Rodgers would've been cleared to play, the Packers probably would've won somewhere in the 31-13 range. With Matt Flynn at quarterback, the game should be much closer, but Green Bay should be able to take care of business. The Falcons have a below average team in the trenches, and that's where football games are won. The Packers win, 24-16. 

Packers101 would like to thank Graham for taking time out of his schedule to give us the inside scoop on the Browns. Be sure to check out Sean Tehan's inside scoop on the Packers at!

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Tags: Aaron Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons, Eddie Lacy, Falcons 101, Football, Graham Waldrop, Green Bay, Green Bay Packers, Julio Jones, Matt Flynn, Matt Ryan, NFL, Roddy White, Sports Media 101

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