When New Orleans travels to 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. Every Friday during the Saints' season 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: “What has been the biggest difference for Atlanta in going 3-0 since starting 2-3?”
Darryl Ledbetter: “During their three-game winning streak, the Falcons have re-emphasized their running attack, shored up their pass protection and played better pass defense. They have averaged 152.7 yards rushing in wins over Carolina, Detroit and Indianapolis. During the first five games they gave up 13 sacks. They have giving up just five sacks during their winning streak. The pass defense gave up 368 yards to Carolina, but picked off Cam Newtown three times. They attacked Detroit’s Matthew Stafford early and he became jittery after three sacks and Indianapolis’ Curtis Painter was sacked twice and intercepted once.”
WWLTV.com: “Julio Jones came back last week with a vengeance, making plays that certainly Atlanta's brass thought he'd be making all along. Was last week his 'Ah ha!" game or just a brief blip?”
Ledbetter: “Actually, it was a continuation of his performance before he missed two games with a hamstring injury. It was his third … 100-yard game. However, the 80-yard touchdown pass where he ran through the defense did show the game-breaking skills that made the Falcons mortgage part of their future to draft him. “
WWLTV.com: “Do you get the impression that the way New Orleans won the Monday night game in Atlanta last season and the whole 'peeing on the logo' quote by former Saint Remi Ayodele is still remembered in the locker room?”
Ledbetter: “It has been remembered, but there wasn’t any return trash talking on Wednesday. It seems the team was ‘briefed’ on the matter because several players seemed to have a canned response.
“Here’s what All-Pro wide receiver Roddy White had to say, ‘Oh wow, that’s kind of crazy. They came down here and got a ‘W.’ They can kind of do whatever they want to do. That’s kind of what happens. When we won down there, we kind of went on the field. It happens. We kind of did our thing when we went down there and won the game. They won, so congratulations to them.’ ”
WWLTV.com: “Has Tony Gonzalez slowed down at all and will he be used again to exploit the Saints' defense?”
Ledbetter: “No, Tony Gonzalez has not slowed down. If left in one-on-one coverage, he will still beat a great majority of linebackers. With teams focusing on Roddy White and Julio Jones, the middle of the field has been open for him to roam and he’s gotten open deep on a couple of seam routes. He’s still a force in the red zone.”
WWLTV.com: “Where does this game stack up in regard to importance since the Falcons started the season 2-3?”
Ledbetter: “It’s very important to the Falcons because it starts a three game home stand after a very tough first half of the schedule. If they can overtake the Saints for first place with a victory, they seem to think they can go on a roll with Tennessee and Minnesota up next. That would make them 8-3 heading into a tough game against Houston Dec. 4. They close out the fourth quarter of the season at Carolina, Jacksonville, at New Orleans and Tampa Bay. An 11-5 or 12-4 record seems attainable.”