With the NFL draft behind us and a lockout raging on, the opportunities to talk about real football are becoming fewer and fewer. That being the case, I have sought out bloggers that cover teams that the Lions will play in the 2011 season to get a glimpse into what is going on with those teams.
Granted, this exercise presumes that no games will be lost due to the lockout (a less risky proposition now than when I began this series). That might be a big step of faith, especially in regards to the preseason games, but I have a hard time operating under any other assumption. I know what happens when one assumes, let’s hope the labor situation doesn’t prove the old saying true. These Q&As aren’t meant to be any sort of game preview, it is obviously way too early for that. The subject teams may end up looking much different when the Lions play them compared to how they look now, but I anticipate this being a good introduction to each teams’ hopes, fears, needs, expectations, etc.
The Lions have drawn some comparisons to the Atlanta Falcons because of some similarities in the way they are building their team. They will get a chance to use the Falcons as a measuring stick when they meet at Ford Field in week seven. I was able to send some questions about the Falcons to Dave Choate, the head honcho at The Falcoholic, and he was kind enough to provide responses. Here we go…
Zac Snyder: What is your take on the Falcons’ decision to trade up for Julio Jones and how has the fan base in general reacted to the move?
Dave Choate: I think it was a ballsy move, but one that has the potential to transform the team’s offense. I think everybody’s on board with Jones, even if they’re (understandably) wary of how much the Falcons had to give up to get him. The early reports are that Jones is way, way out in front of the game.
ZS: What are the chances that Matt Ryan is regarded as an elite quarterback by the time next season ends?
DC: I believe that’s tied to the team’s fortunes. I think Ryan has to toss more than 30 touchdowns and lead the Falcons to at least one playoff win for that consideration to really take hold. I think he’s on the cusp right now.
ZS: How have Falcons players handled the lockout so far?
DC: Very well. They’ve been holding workouts that have been pulling in 30-plus players every time out, including guys like Matt Ryan, William Moore and Julio Jones. I have every confidence that the team is going to be ready for the season, whenever the lockout ends.
ZS: If you could change one thing about the Falcons as they are currently constructed what would it be?
DC: I would add one elite cornerback. I don’t think that’s feasible, however, given how much money the team is going to have tied up in Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson this upcoming season. I think the pass rush is underrated and will show up in a big way in 2011.
ZS: How confident are you that the Falcons can stay ahead of the Saints and what are your expectations for the team in 2011?
DC: I’m reasonably confident…maybe 60 percent. The Saints improved this off-season and are a tough team, so I’d have to be a fool to be totally confident. I do expect the Falcons to win the division again in 2011, but in the playoffs…I don’t know. We’ll have to see.