This week, I had the pleasure of talking to the editor of Fansided’s Atlanta Falcons editor, William Huseth, and played half a game of 20 questions – 5 from me, and five from him. Here’s what he had to say:
CC: The Falcons have as dangerous a 1-2 punch at WR now as any team in the NFL. Obviously, the trade to go up and get Julio Jones is paying huge dividends. I followed his college career somewhat and while A.J. Green from Georgia could and would completely take over games, I didn’t see that on a consistent basis from Julio at Alabama. His combine 40-time boosted his stock, but were you sold on him when the trade and the pick was announced?
WH: Funny that you mention it, but I was completely sold on the trade for Jones right as it happened. I was in the car, and started shouting for joy. It was only as days wore on, and at the beginning of the season when we saw little production from Jones, that I begun to question the trade. However, when healthy, he has the potential and also has in reality completely taken over games. The real key is that even if he isn’t taking over games, he is allowing other players on the Falcons to take over the game. He is more than just as solid as they come, and he has certainly improved his catching ability. He is at least on the same level as Green.
CC: I’ve noticed Michael Turner seems to have had his share of plays that have gone nowhere this season. With his age and workload in his time in Atlanta, do you think he’s slowing down and do you see Jacquizz Rodgers starting to get more carries?
WH: Yeah, there’s no doubt in the world that Turner is slowing down. That, however, doesn’t mean that he is washed up. He is still a valuable component of this team, and is still very useful in short-yardage situations. Sure, Jacquizz Rodgers is getting most touches than backs in the past have. But while he isn’t quite the power runner that Turner is, he runs tough between the tackles, catches the ball far better, and also is great in pass protection. Rodgers is becoming more valuable, but he is still most useful if Turner is still picking up the tough yards.
CC: The Falcons are outscoring the opposition 2-to-1. Tony Gonzalez is what, like 50 years old now. He’s phenomenal and a certain Hall of Famer. Is he showing any signs at all of slowing down?
WH:Tony Gonzalez is certainly an ageless wonder. He has lost some downfield speed, no doubt about it, but he is so crafty and so expert with his route running and being on the same page as Matt Ryan, that it barely matters. Gonzalez is an constant threat for a first down, and particularly strong in the red-zone. Having a great player to hold down the middle of the field is really important, and in his late 30′s Gonzalez is still doing it.
CC: It’s hard to complain as a fan with the team playing so well but what’s your biggest concern or area of room for improvement you see with the Falcons?
WH: Pass rush is the thing that is most concerning for me. It’s not a big problem when we blitz, but when we rush just four men, we sometimes get to the quarterback, but don’t bring him down. It’s just so important to have a great base-package pass rush, and the Falcons have a serviceable one, spearheaded by John Abraham. I’m expecting the Falcons to bolster that aspect of the team in the next draft.
CC: What makes the Falcons so difficult to beat at home? Is there something unique to the Georgia Dome?
WH: I can only think that it’s a matter of crowd noise in a dome. The Georgia Dome isn’t particularly engineered to boost volume (at least not to my knowledge), but the fans are extremely loud, and that presents problems for just about any team, if for no other reason than it gets in the players psyche. Whatever the total combination is, I’m just glad the end result is an in-hospitable environment for the opposing team.