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A chat with The Falcoholic

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The Atlanta Falcons come to the Meadowlands to face the New York Giants Sunday in a make-or-break game for both 5-4 teams. This week I chatted with Dave Choate, lead blogger over at The Falcoholic, about his team.

Dave Choate: IguessthemostobviousquestioniswhatexactlyhappenedoverthelastfourweekstotheGiants?Canyoupinitonanyonething?


Big Blue View: HowdidIknowthatwouldbethefirstquestion?Whathappenedtothem?Theyaremissinginaction. IftheyturnupsomewheredownSouth,pleaseletmeknow.Actually,ithasprobablybeenacombinationoffactors.Throughfivegamestheyonlyplayedonegoodteam(Dallas).Thelastfourweekshaveallbeenagainstverygoodteams,andtheyhaveexposedtheflawsintheGiantsdefense.

Also,itisentirelypossiblethatthisteamisnotasgoodaswethoughtitwasgoingtobe.Thedefensehasnotbeendominant,althoughSundaywillbethehealthiesttheyhavebeenallseason.

Dave Choate: Thatmakessense.

WiththeFalconsalsostruggling,howconcernedareyouaboutourabilitytohangsomepointsonthatdefense?

Big Blue View: I'dbeconcernedaboutNotreDamebeingabletohangsomepointsonthatdefense,totellyouthetruth.Thisteamwassupposedtobebuiltaroundadominantdefenseanditjusthasn'tworkedoutthatway.

Injuries(Kenny Phillips, Chris Canty, Aaron Ross, Michael Boley, Justin Tuck)havereallyhurtthisteam.TheygetRossbackforthefirsttimeallseasononSundayandwillbeasclosetofullstrengthastheyhavebeenallseason.Maybe,justmaybe,westarttoseethedefensetheGiantsthoughttheyhad.

So,summarizetheFalconsseasonforme.TheyhaveanidenticalrecordtotheGiantsat5-4.Aretheyasinconsistentasthatrecordindicates?

Dave Choate: Inconsistencymightbealightwordforwhat'sgoinghere.

Some weeks,theyhavehadexcellentpassingperformances,otherweeksthegroundgamehasbeensuperb,andothergameseverysinglephaseoftheoffenseanddefenseisterrible.ThegameagainstthePantherslastweekwasoneoftheworstI'veseeninalongtime,andwealsolostMichael Turner.I'dsayhe'sgotlessthana25%chanceofplayingagainstyouguys.

Big Blue View: TheGiantsarealwaysproudoftheirrunningbackdepth.ExplaintomehowbigofalossTurnerwouldbetotheFalcons?

Dave Choate: Thewayhe'sbeenplayinginrecentweeks,it'satremendousblow.Jason Snellingisacapablereplacementintheshort-term,butthere'snodepthbehindhimunlessspeedybackJeriousNorwoodcomesbackfrominjury,andhe'snot100%yet.OuronlyotheroptionwouldappeartobeAaronStecker,whoreallyisn'tmuchmorethanaspecialteameratthispoint.

Big Blue View: IlookatthisSundayasaHUGEgame.Tome,itdetermineswhetherornottheGiantsaretrueplayoffcontenders,oriftheyarejustpretendersplayingoutthestringuntilnextseason.DoyoufeelthesamewayfromanAtlantaperspective?

Dave Choate: Ifwelosethisgame,I'mcallingit:We'rebasicallyoutoftheplayoffhunt.It'sabsolutely criticalthatwetrytoputyouaway,consideringthatyou'reoneofthetopthreatsinthewildcardhunt.I agreeit'scritical.

Will theGiantslooktoattacktheFalconsthroughtheairwiththeirnew-foundplethoraofreceivingoptions,orwilltheysticktotherun?

Big Blue View:: Well,everytimeItrytofigureoutwhatgameplanoffensivecoordinatorKevin Gilbridewillemploy,orthatIthinkheshouldemploy,Iendupgivingmyselfaheadache.Isupporttheguy,butaroundherefolkslovetoriphim.Anyway,that'salong-windedwayofsayingIhavenoideawhatGilbridewillactuallydecidetodo.


Dave Choate: Ithinkyourbestbetistopass,honestly.


Big Blue View: Here,though,iswhatIhopehedoes.Ihopehegivesyouguysasteadydose,asin25carriesorso,ofBrandon Jacobs.Thebigfellahashardlybeenutilizedatallduringthelosingstreak(51carriesin4games)andit'stimeforthemtostartridinghim.


Asforthepass,Ijusthopetheystaywiththeshortandintermediatestuff.Oneproblemtheyhadforafewgamesisfallinginlovewithtryingforthedeepball.Greatwhenitworks,butitleavesyouwantingtothrowtheremotethroughtheTVwhenitfailson3rdand2.

TheGiantsalwaysstriveforbalance.IjustthinkfailingtouseJacobsenoughisleavingyourbestweaponontheshelf.

Dave Choate: I'dtendtoagree. ButIthinktheFalconshavehadafundamentalproblemgeneratingapassrushinrecentweeks,whichleavesamedicoresecondaryouttodry.


Big Blue View: Actually,thatsoundsalotliketheGiants.WithKenny Phillipsoutfortheyear,andRossnothavingplayedyet,thesecondaryhasbeenexposed.

Dave Choate: Remarkabletheextenttowhichourteams'struggleshavemirroredeach other,really.

Sayssomethingabouttheweightofexpectations.

Big Blue View: Tell mealittleaboutMatt Ryan.Seemslikehehasbeenmoreinconsistentthisseasonthanhewasasarookie?

Dave Choate: Heactuallyhadagreatstarttotheyear. Andit'sgonedownhillrapidlyinrecentweeks.

I thinkhe'slookedshakierinthepocket,andatleastpartofthatcanbeattributedtobetterpassrusheshe'sbeenfacing.Butsomethinghe'sbeendoingwithmaddeningregularityissailingpassesoverreceivers'heads,oftenwithdisastrousconsequences.Ryan'sstillgotaverybrightfuture,butthecoachingstaffhastohelphimsortouthismentalstruggles.

Big Blue View: OK.HereisaquestionIalwaysask.IfyoucouldtakeoneplayerofftheGiantsrosterandputhiminyourlineup,whowoulditbe?Why?

Dave Choate: Withoutadoubt,Osi Umenyiora.Dude'sabeastandweneedthepassrushinghelphecouldprovidedesperately.TherearealotofworthycandidatesontheGiants,buthe'sthefirstnamethatcomestomind.

Howaboutyou?Samequestions,butwiththeFalcons?

Big Blue View: So,herecomesthepartofthatquestionIhate.I'mnotanexpertonyourroster,butIwouldsaythis.Wecouldusehelpatlinebacker,andifyouhaveaplaymakeryouwouldliketogiveuswewouldtakehim.

Dave Choate: ThatwouldbeCurtis Lofton.Extremelytoughmiddlelinebacker,leagueleaderintacklesandaguywhoyoucancountontobeinvolvedineveryplay.Hitshardenoughtojarthefootballloose,too.

Rapidfirequestions,here.

Big Blue View: Giants,27-24;IexpectahugegamefromEli;Jacobsand100yardsdependsonwhetherhegetsenoughcarries.

Hereareacoupleforyou

CantheFalconsrunwithoutTurner?Aprediction?

Dave Choate: IexpectJason Snellingtopickupatleast75yardswithoutTurner,andI'mpredictinga21-17Falconswin,crazilyenough.