By Dre McClendon
Being a fan of the Atlanta Falcons, I’ve experienced highs, lows, elation, and heartbreak. I remember attending my first Falcons game, and a man by the name of Deion “Prime Time” Sanders electrified the game with a punt return for a touchdown. It was then that I became a fan, even after he departed, I stayed loyal, from the Dirty Birds to the Vick Era, to now the Matt Ryan/Julio Jones era. It’s plenty others that share this loyalty so I’ve decided to do a little Q and A with a few Falcons fans. They are (in order): Jose Carrasco, Nicholle McKoy, Demario Scott, Eric Parker, Mike Linson, Jonathan Moore, Dexter Mines, Dustin Delacerda, Marshell Thorthon, Larron White, and Maria Johnson.
- How do you prepare for Game days?
Jose: For me, I get a good night’s sleep. I always wear a pendant on game day. It used to be a 285 freeway pendant but now it will be a Falcons pendant. I always wear a jersey. I don’t feel right not wearing a jersey on game day.
- What are your expectations for the season?
Nicholle: To win. We expect a Superbowl win this year. Ok 11-5, I was getting nervous already.
- The Falcons will be moving into their new stadium in 2017, what was your favorite memory in the Georgia Dome?
Demario: If I was in attendance for the Seattle playoff game in 2012 that would have easily been my choice but since I was not there for that game the Carolina quest for that perfect season has to be the game. We had already been taken behind the woodshed and whip badly in Carolina so of course the experts didn’t think we stood any chance in this game. Cam Newton was coming home to Atlanta; His team was clicking on all cylinders. Many picked his team to go undefeated and many picked his team to win the Super Bowl. Our Defense played great and the offense did enough to get the job done. The atmosphere was like a playoff game. There were lots of Carolina fans in the house and after they were defeated the trash talk on the concourses was at an all-time high. Remember games aren’t played on paper. It’s played on the field. #RiseUpAtlanta
4.This will be the second year the Falcon defense will be under Dan Quinn, given his track record in Seattle, will the defense see improvement this season?
Eric: Definitely. They’ve already improved in the draft at the linebacker and safety position. We lost a couple of games last season from lack of coverage on Tight Ends and Running Backs. Not only that, but it is the second year in Quinn’s system will also play a big factor. I think the league is in for a shock. #RiseUp
- Many felt that the Falcons reached in the draft by drafting S Keanu Neal out of Florida. What impact do you feel he can bring to the defense?
Mike: Many people thought the Falcons reached to get Neal with the 17th pick. Scouts weren’t impressed with his ability to cover. I for one do not agree.
Neal was often matched up against wide receivers in the off coverage. When he played closer to the line, that’s when he shined.
Neal is not a flashy guy by any means. But he’s EXACTLY what Dan Quinn was looking for on defense. Someone who has the ability to close quickly, make the tackle and cover tight ends in short yard, goal line situations. This is where Neal will have the most impact.
- Mohamed Sanu was one of the key acquisitions the Falcons made this off-season. How can he contribute to the offense?
Jonathan: He’s a Roddy White replica. He won’t take the top off, but he will stir the pot and while they are looking in the pot, Julio will let them know we either getting a first down or a touchdown. If our Tight End kicks in along with Freeman, we can be trouble.
- Matt Ryan had one of his worst statistical seasons in his career (21 Touchdowns, 16 Interceptions). What does he have to do this upcoming season in order to elevate the Falcons to Superbowl Contenders?
Dexter: Matt Ryan has to improve on his decision making as a QB to elevate the Falcons into a SuperBowl contender, with 16 interceptions, it is hard to obtain and control momentum on a regular basis. Defenses aren’t afraid of your ability to pass, when they don’t feel you can put the ball downfield on a consistent basis.
Also, Ryan has to show that he is an assertive leader of his offense. I will be the first to say that putting an established QB into a new system is a recipe for disaster (which we had last year) but when you are the field general, it’s your responsibility to lead. Kyle Shanahan, while having a lot of the responsibility (fault) pointed at him and rightfully so, is NOT on the field when the ball is snapped. If Ryan is reading a defense and he sees something, audible and exploit it. Matt Ryan has to make it very known that as the field general, that it won’t degenerate into the “Julio and them” show. Yes, we have one of the top 5 receivers (and I would argue top 1) in football wearing number 11. But the Falcons have far more weapons now than just Julio. Sanu has the speed and ability to rip the top off a defense, Devonte Freeman emerged last year as a top 10 NFL RB, Jacob Tamme is a pretty sure handed tight, and for the love of all things holy in the eyes of the football gods, please leave that stupid screen play elsewhere. Once and in a while it is awesome, but does not run that run it on a regular basis.
The last thing is that Matt Ryan, when under fire, has to make better decisions. Whether it’s throwing it away, or taking a sack. The last and absolute worst thing he could do is continue to try to force it to Julio when he is about to be popped in the mouth.
- Julio Jones had one of the most impressive and productive seasons with a wide receiver in recent league memory. Can he surpass those numbers this season?
Dustin: While I’d have to say anything is possible when it comes to Julio Jones, I’d like to think the ground game will have more of an impact this year, so I’d say similar numbers for sure but I think it’s unlikely he surpasses them.
- What game are you looking forward to seeing the most this season?
Marshell: I am most looking forward to the game against the Broncos. I want to see how we do against the team who will be minus Peyton Manning, but their defense wasn’t too bad.
- In your opinion, who is the Falcons biggest rival and why?
Larron: Saints. Has been for years. I remember my momma going to that game when I was a kid. They would take Amtrak down to New Orleans. Why, because New Orleans has just as many black people as Atlanta and our fans could go there without going through the racial tension. It was also one of the closest divisional teams, being in the old NFC West with San Francisco and Los Angeles and now in the NFC South.
- When did you become a Falcons Fan?
Maria: I don’t really have a set time that I became a Falcons fan. I’ve just watched since I was a kid. My sister was a huge fan and got me watching them. I was watching them when it was a guarantee that every year they would lose 10 or more games. I remember players like Steve Bartkowski, William Andrews, Mick Luckhurst, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, Deion Sanders, Andre Rison, Jeff George, Chris Chandler, Jessie Tuggle and Scott Case who I liked, but hardly gets talked about. Best moment as a fan was seeing Morten Andersen kick the game winning field goal to send the Falcons to the Superbowl in 1998. I like the Falcons but it seems every time I get excited for them, something blows their season up and it ends up sucking so I keep an even keel of excitement about them.
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