When New Orleans hosts Atlanta for Sunday’s division game, you’ve likely read as much about the Saints as you possibly can.
But what about the Falcons?
That’s where A View From the Other Side comes in. Most Friday’s during the fall, WWL-TV.com will ask five questions to at least one beat writer covering the Saints’ opponent that week.
This week we welcome back Darryl Ledbetter, who works for the Atlanta Journal Constitution and is always willing to help the EOSB in a pinch.
A little background on Darryl - He has appeared on ESPN’s First Take, Cold Pizza and Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith, MSNBC, and ESPN’s SportsCenter. He has been a sports reporter for the Charlotte Observer, the Cincinnati Enquirer, a sports reporter and columnist for the Milwaukee Journal and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and is currently the Atlanta Falcons Beat Writer for the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
You can read his stories and coverage on the Falcons page of the AJC’s website and also follow him on Twitter @AJCFalcons.
WWLTV.com: The Falcons brought in new coordinators this year. The personnel, on the other hand, are largely the same. How much of Atlanta’s improvement comes down to new coordinators and how much of it is one more year experience for players like Matt Ryan and Julio Jones?
Darryl Ledbetter: “I believe that it’s a combination of the two. Both of the coordinators have had a profound impact and the players have developed. Both coaches, Mike Nolan and Dirk Koetter, have implemented major system tweaks. In the case of Koetter, nearly a major overhaul as the offense has shifted to more of a passing attack.”
WWLTV.com: The Saints have won 10 of the past 12 and three straight. While they’re 3-5 and the Falcons are 8-0, do you get the sense that New Orleans is in the players’ heads at all?
DL: “No really because with the exception of the last meeting, most of the games have been close. While the Falcons respect the Saints, they have never considered the Saints to be a superior team.”
WWLTV.com: New Orleans traditionally has had trouble covering dynamic tight ends and that’s just one word to describe Tony Gonzalez. At 36, he’s still one of the top tight ends in the game. What has allowed him to remain successful this season?
DL: “Unlike some of us, he has manages to remain in top shape. He has done a great job of taking care of his body. Also, teams have elected to leave him in one-on-one coverage because of the deep threat posed by Roddy White and Julio Jones. They have created room for him to operate in the middle of the field and he’s still a great and crafty route runner.”
WWLTV.com: What has allowed Atlanta to be so good at taking the ball away this season? It’s plus-10, including 10 interceptions.
DL: “While they haven’t had a turnover in two games now, but the secondary is playing the ball well in the air. Safeties Thomas DeCoud and William Moore are playing at a Pro Bowl level and teams have elected to stay away from left cornerback Asante Samuel. They are dialing up some blitzes more and are pouncing on the ball when it comes out early.”
WWLTV.com: A lot was made last year that the Saints ran up the score on the Falcons in the Dec. 26, 2011 meeting. Has that game become a rallying cry at all with the players still around from that game?
DL: “The players and coaches have moved on. However, the fans want some blood. They feel it was very disrespectful and a classless act by the Saints to go after a record in a blowout. I’m not so sure the Football Gods approved of that move and that may have led to the Bounty Gate issues.”