Dave the Falconer, who runs SB Nation's Atlanta Falcons' blog, The Falcoholic, has graciously answered 5 Questions about the Falcons and the upcoming game. See his responses below. I answered his 5 Questions in a post on his blog that can be found here.
BTB: Everybody has an opinion of Mike Vick, good and bad. How do you think he's done over this season? How much credit or blame should he get for the Falcons season so far? Is he the long-term answer for the franchise?
Dave the Falconer: For this particular season, Vick deserves a fairly small chunk of the blame. He hasn't been awful most of the year, and he had a couple of games where he basically willed the team to victory. Those days have past, however. Now he's playing like he usually does,
which is to say as an excellent runner and a mediocre QB. He has the arm and the escape dimension you look for from a franchise QB, but his accuracy and his ability to make reads is still in question. The only way Vick is the long term answer is if he manages some big improvement over the offseason--over if you're talking about the long term answer to filling Arthur Blank's pockets.
BTB: What's the latest on the injuries to Dunn and Norwood, are either likely to play in this game? Do you think there's any truth to the rumor about the Falcons using Vick in a RB role at all during the game if they can't play?
Dave the Falconer: Dunn and Norwood are both under the questionable heading. With Jim Mora this means they could be anywhere between ready to play and lying dead in a ditch somewhere, so take that as you will. My expectation is that neither of them will play, but I think Norwood is more likely to if it comes down to it. In any other case, it'll be Justin Griffith, an excellent runner as far as fullbacks go, but nobody I expect the Cowboys to fear. As for the truth of using Vick in the HB role...I don't put much stock in it at all, honestly. I think it would be a neat idea, and one that might be beneficial to the team, but I don't see Greg Knapp being able to plan that well enough.
BTB: If a team can shut down Alge Crumpler, will that shut down the passing offense? Do you see any of your current crop of wide receivers developing into a solid player that can be counted on? Which one is potentially more dangerous in this game?
Dave the Falconer: Alge Crumpler is definitely our most dangerous receiver, and he's very difficult to shut down. If you were to do so, I would expect our passing game to take a big hit, because Crumpler serves as the blanket to Vick's Linus. One receiver to watch out for is Mike Jenkins, who despite his early shenanigans and his tendency to fade is slowly developing into a solid receiver. I don't trust Roddy White at all, and Ashley Lelie isn't much scarier. If Crumpler's down, look for Jenkins to try to step up. If he doesn't, hello running game.
BTB: How is the Falcons defense playing now that they have gotten John Abraham and some other players back from injury?
Dave the Falconer: The Falcons' D has looked better the last couple weeks. The pass rush is looking a mite better with Abraham slowly getting healthy again, and Chauncey Davis is developing into a playmaker. Rod Coleman is always a scary sight up the middle, and he excels at putting pressure on the QB. The linebacking corps is as good as they come, and I expect them to deal nicely with Julius Jones and Marion "III" Barber, though the latter has been awesome as of late. The secondary is what kind of worries me. They're still inconsistent, and against receivers like Owens, Glenn, and Witten, there's not a lot of room for error. I think the D has seen improvement as the players heal, but they'll need to step up some more to really stop the 'Boys.
BTB: What's your realistic view on the Falcons making the playoffs this year? If they don't make it, is Jim Mora's job in jeopardy?
Dave the Falconer: Realistically, I think they can make it. 9-7 would do the trick in the cringeworthy world of the NFC, and they've got a pretty realistic shot to end up there or one better. There's still a good chance they won't, however, and in that case I believe Mora and his coaching staff will be hitting the ol' dusty trail.
His coaching has been uninspiring for much of the year, and as much as I like him, someone's gotta be held accountable for some of the really terrible decisions here. I believe offensive coordinator Greg Knapp should head that list, but I know that's not being realistic. If the Falcons make the playoffs and don't just bounce out in the first round, there's a very good chance Mora keeps his job.
Here's to a great game on Saturday!