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Prior to the interview below, we didn't know that Leftwich has now been benched in favor of Harrington again, adding to the season of oddness for Dave and Falcons fans. Despite a season of nightmares, Dave was kind enough to chat with me about the Thanksgiving game between Atlanta and Indianapolis:
BBS: What's your evaluation of Bobby Petrino? One of my contributing writers at Stampede Blue, MasterRWayne, says Petrino is a complete boob and has lost the team. I have no idea if MasterRWayne is right. Is he?
Dave: He's somewhat right. If Bobby Petrino has proved one thing this year, it's that he is a coaching automaton who is incapable of changing his style. Warrick Dunn averaging two yards a carry? Give him 10 more carries. Byron Leftwich slow and injured? Give him the start and leave him in most of the game. Players complaining about playing time? Ignore them.
Essentially, he has managed to make some fans yearn for Jim Mora Jr., who used to tuck Mike Vick and DeAngelo Hall into bed at night. He has also presided over one of the worst Falcon offense in recent memory.
Other than that, he's been terrific.
BBS: Why was Joe Harrington benched for Byron Leftwich? We Colts fans have a long (and enjoyable) history of watching Byron suck up the AFC South and consistently undermine Jacksonville's playoff chances. He seems to be doing the same in Atlanta. Why did Petrino start him over Harrington, who seemed to be playing well and helping the team win?
Dave: Good question. Harrington's major knocks are that he doesn't get rid of the ball quickly enough and he doesn't throw the ball very far. Leftwich answers one of those problems, in that he ostensibly has a cannon arm. Given that he's only played a few quarters at a time before getting injured, I can't say I've seen anything that convinces me he's a better play than Harrington.
I think the man I call Pet Rhino simply thinks Leftwich has more potential than Harrington, and I can't entirely disagree with that. When the team had won two in a row and Harrington had managed the game effectively enough, it was probably a bad move to mess with that. See question one for more thoughts on Petrino's decision making.
BBS: Michael Vick is now in jail. Any thoughts? Can you ever see him in an Atlanta uni again?
Dave: The short answer is no f'n way, and the long answer just puts the whole word in the middle there. Vick managed to destroy his own career, abuse animals and submarine an entire franchise in one fell swoop. It was an incredibly stupid and selfish thing to do, and while I'm sure he'll get another shot with some franchise down the line, I hope it won't be the Falcons.
I hope he serves out his jail term and stays out of trouble from now on; I do believe people are capable of redeeming themselves. It's just tough to forgive him as a fan who tolerated his performance on the field because of his vast potential. I've washed my hands of him.
BBS: What's Atlanta's biggest issue they need to address in the 08 off-season, and should Rich McKay be retained as GM?
Dave: They must--must!--tend to the offensive line and QB. The defense has a lot of promising young players and a few steady veterans, though we're rapidly losing both to injuries. We could probably use a new kicker, but ancient Babylonian warrior Morten Andersen is doing well enough right now.
The line, however, is just awful. The Falcons will justifiably pick up a QB with their first pick because they don't have anyone to build around, but the line needs immediate upgrading. Atlanta had been running the Alex Gibbs system in the past, which required a lot of smaller, quicker linemen, which definitely don't work in a bulk-blocking scheme like Petrino's. The run blocking has been especially suspect. This needs to be a major point next season.
BBS: And finally, with all the injuries on the Colts, I think Atlanta has a chance to win. What do they need to do, and how to they do it?
Dave: The Falcons will need to win this game with suffocating defense, specifically the quality CB tandem of DeAngelo Hall and rookie Chris Houston. Offensively they're an average team at best, so they're going to have to score perhaps 17 to 20 points and hold the Colts, obviously, to less. Stranger things have happened.
Thanks to Dave The Falconer for taking the time to chat. Check out his fine blog for a Falcons fan's take on the game.