Outside observations on the Falcons

My good friend Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com has been watching the Falcons and Patriots practice together the past few days and will be at their preseason game tonight.

A true team player, Reiss asked if I'd run his observations on Atlanta on the NFC South Blog. I said absolutely, because I believe the more we have the merrier NFC South readers will be and also because Mike is one of the writers I respect most in this business. Here's his report.



FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Got a chance to peek behind the curtain at Atlanta Falcons headquarters this week. It’s impressive.

When it comes to the NFL, my primary focus has been the New England Patriots since 1997. With the Patriots visiting the Falcons for joint practices before their Thursday night preseason game, this was a chance to see the inner-workings of a different team.

For Falcons fans who might be interested in an outside perspective, these two words would sum up what I saw: Commitment, synergy.

The commitment starts at the top with owner Arthur Blank. It looks to me like Falcons staffers have all the tools they need to be successful, starting with modern, top-notch facilities. It’s a great setup.

The synergy reflects how general manager Thomas Dimitroff’s scouting staff, Mike Smith’s coaching staff, and the rest of the operation are all pulling in the same direction. This is their third year together, and I see a talented team that has reached the point that it will be cutting players who will be picked up by other teams.

From an Xs and Os standpoint, one concern I have for the Falcons is how they will hold up against bigger, physical teams, such as the season-opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The unit is Colts-like in that it is a bit smaller, but makes up for the lack of across-the-board girth with high-end speed. It’s a different approach than I am used to seeing from the Patriots, yet one that has proven it can be successful.

Overall, after spending three days at the team’s facility, I left with this thought: “If I’m a Falcons fan, I would be feeling good about the direction this team is headed.”