The New York Giants host the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday at MetLife Stadium. To learn more about the Falcons, we turn this week to Dave Choate of 'The Falcoholic' for our weekly 'Five Questions' segment.
Ed: Osi Umenyiora and Bear Pascoe were popular Giants when they were here. What are your thoughts on both guys? Are they helping the Falcons?
Dave: At this stage of the game, both have limited roles with the Atlanta Falcons.
Osi's being used primarily as a pass rushing specialist, a role where he hasn't had a tremendous amount of success thus far in 2014. Part of that is undoubtedly due to his limited snaps-he had just 20 last Sunday-but he may be firmly in the decline stage of his career, as well.
Pascoe has been used as a blocking tight end and special teamer thus far, but like Osi, his snaps have been limited. If the Falcons continue to deal with injuries on the offensive line, I imagine he'll grab a larger role in pass protection, but we're not quite there yet.
Ed: The Falcons are 2-2 one-fourth of the way through the season. Do you like what you see and think they are a playoff team, or are you worried about your team?
Dave: I'm extremely concerned at the moment. The offense has been largely effective, but the Falcons suffered three injuries along the offensive line that could cost linemen time. Worse is the defense, which has been one of the league's worst through four weeks of the season. Against a potent team like the Giants, that's not good news.
Really, this team has been stellar at home and lousy on the road thus far, but the defense's ineptitude has been the team's sole constant thus far. I can't really see this team making a deep January push if they can't coax a half-decent pass rush out of their starters, or at least quality run-stopping. They were just destroyed by Minnesota, after all.
Ed: The Falcons have tremendous receivers in Julio Jones and Roddy White. The Giants have fantastic corners in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara. How do you see that match-up?
Dave: I think the Giants should be able to bottle up one or both for part of the afternoon, but containing Julio Jones completely is basically out of the question, even with the strength of your cornerbacks. Julio's gonna eat.
The key to stopping the Falcons is shutting down Roddy White opposite Jones, taking away other options and applying pressure on Matt Ryan. If you can get it done up front, having quality cornerbacks will go a long way toward slowing down a very potent passing attack.
Ed: Who are a couple of young players Giants fans might not know much about who they should watch for on Sunday?
Dave: The first one to know is Antone Smith. He's not necessarily young, but he's used on a limited basis and therefore flies under the radar. Smith is capable of taking scores to the house on any play, and all of his touchdowns over the last two years have been 38 yards or longer. He's an incredible threat as a runner and pass catcher, and the defense must account for him.
On the other side of the ball, watch out for Prince Shembo. He's transitioned to ILB as a rookie and just took over the starting job in earnest this last week, but he's a sure tackler and an aggressive player who I think will grow into a quality player sooner than later.
Ed: If you could take one Giants player and put him in your lineup, who would it be? Why?
Dave: Great question, and one I had to think about for a bit. In the end, Jason Pierre-Paul's pass rush ability is phenomenal, if inconsistent, and he's still just 25 years old. The Falcons are sorely lacking anyone of that caliber, and I'd love to add him to this defense. Thanks for offering so politely.
Thanks to Dave for taking the time. Play nicely with others when you visit 'The Falcoholic' this week.