On Tuesday, NFC West colleague Mike Sando and I did this Double Coverage segment in which we discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons.
ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer pretty much did his own Double Coverage on Thursday in a conference call with the national media when asked if he’s surprised that so many people doubt the Falcons.
"I kind of see both sides of it,’’ Dilfer said. “We're so -- as analysts, as writers, as a football-consuming audience -- we love the quantifiable. We love being able to say, 'Hey, they're this because here's a number to support it.' And we don't dive into the psychology of it and the intangible qualities teams have. So from the quantifiable, it's very understandable why people don't believe in the Falcons. They don't do anything outside their passing game that just jumps out at you and says 'Wow they're really good at A, they're really good at B.' They also play a lot of tight games against opponents that are, quote/unquote, not top-tier teams. For all those reasons, I understand it. And at times I find myself getting caught up in that, too.’’
But Atlanta fans shouldn’t go tossing Dilfer’s name into the lengthy list of media members they think have slighted the Falcons. The former NFL quarterback said that there was more than luck involved in the Falcons going 13-3 in the regular season and he pointed out some of their positive qualities.
“I just know that sometimes the most powerful thing in football is confidence, which you can't quantify,’’ Dilfer said. “It's momentum that you can't quantify. It's will, competitive will, to make big plays in big moments. There's no number to support that. When I look at the Falcons in that light, I see a lot of that stuff. I see a lot of the unquantifiable stuff that I go, 'Wow, this team's really good.' Seven fourth-quarter comebacks? Some of their comebacks are 30 seconds on the clock and getting the ball where they get it. Stops in games where they've been gashed on defense. But a big third-and-3, they come up with a big stop. They force a turnover. They don't flinch. So for all those reasons I really like the Falcons.’’