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But what I know of Michael Vick is limited. I've seen a few national telecasts but mostly get opinion from ESPN personalities who all say Vick can't throw. If you look at his career stats, there's a level of validity to that -- never thrown for more than 16 touchdowns in a season; never thrown for more than 2,936 yards in a season; has a 53.9% career completion rate; misses significant time because of injury.
So I took my ignorance to Dave the Falconer at Falcoholic and asked him: if you had one play left to win the game, three yards out of the endzone, would you trust Vick to run the ball or pass?
Dave the Falconer: In that case, everyone's expecting Vick to run. That makes the run a difficult call, because the Bengals certainly have a mobile defense. At least against the Bengals, I'd try to have Vick throwing to Crumpler in the end zone. It's a very tough decision, though, because the run seems to work much more frequently than Vick testing his arm.
What worries me the most Sunday is Atlanta's running game. If the Bengals defense has no answers for Vick and Warrick Dunn - the most underrated running back every season since his rookie season - then we're in trouble. It's known the Bengals can't stop the run; the saving grace is that we can contain opposing offenses from scoring - (using the force) the game against New England never happened.
But we're an offensive minded fan base. I asked Dave the Falconer: what's the basic description of the defense we're playing against:
Dave the Falconer: The Falcons have a pretty effective defense, I think. We rely on Rod Coleman to open up holes in the middle, and from there the Falcons seek to overwhelm with skilled pass rushers. Against the run the Falcons take the same approach: plug the holes and pursue the back. It's an athletic defense, so they're usually capable of catching the back. Their weakness is the area immediately beyond the offensive line, where a back can create his own space and take off. We had a lot of problems containing Tiki Barber in that space a couple weeks ago. The Falcons run a variety of packages in the secondary, but you'll mostly see man to man from the corners and a wide zone from the safeties. Lawyer Milloy and Chris Crocker are also capable enough to cover tight ends and halfbacks on their own, so they do see a fair amount of man to man work. If I were the Bengals, I think I'd be most concerned with getting the run going. Rudi Johnson's a talented back, but he's not really the slashing kind of back that Atlanta typically has problems with. If the Bengals can't get the run going, they're going to have to watch out for DeAngelo "Fall" Hall, who's going to be covering Chad Johnson like a glove. If I were Carson Palmer, I'd spend all day throwing on Jason Webster and seeing if he could stop me.
Dave knows his stuff and I'd recommend to each of you to go to the Falcoholic to study our opponents this weekend.
For you Ohio State Buckeyes fans, I was curious to see the development of Michael Jenkins:
Dave the Falconer: Oh, Mike Jenkins. Well, he's a good kid, from what I can tell. Has a lot of potential. Runs some pretty good routes. Catches fairly well. As a #1 receiver, however, he gives me the willies. That drop in the end zone against the Giants a couple weeks ago was terrifying, and I have since dubbed him "Oven Mitts", because at times that's it looks like he's trying to catch with. I do think he is our best option as a number one receiver, and I believe if he can iron out some of his flaws he'll be a very good--but not great--receiver for a long time.