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fordfixer
09-08-2010, 11:12 PM
Falcons Open Against Steelers

10:24 pm September 8, 2010, by Dawson Devitt (D3)
Six Searing Questions as Birds Hit Steel City
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Are Ryan and Roddy Ready for Sunday? (J.Getz/AJC)

The combines, the draft, mini-camp, the sweltering summer heat, training camp, preseason, and its finally here Ladies and Gentleman: Our Beloved Birds are Ready to Tee it Up in Pittsburgh for the 2010 Season! Rejoice, Falcons Football is here once again. The shortest off-season in memory (at least for many of us Cagers) has come to a close and all the hype, talk, and predictions will finally subside for the real deal. One of the most joyous occasions of the entire year is here as the Atlanta Falcons travel up to Pittsburgh to take on the 2006 and 2008 Super Bowl Champions at Heinz Field. Anyone who thinks this game will not be a hard fought battle to the end because the Steelers are without their starting QB or LT may be in for a big shock. Ready your weekend plans, double check your remote’s batteries, and get your Sunday game menu prepared because the Falcons are back once again! Six searing questions as the Falcons travel to the Steel City to open the season…….
1) Will Dunta Robinson Have Any Major Rust?

The big ticket free agent acquisition at cornerback didn’t take a single snap in any of the four preseason games and that has caused some fans to worry that he won’t be use to game speed, be conditioned, or be in rhythm with his teammates. Its not all his fault because the coaching staff has been extremely cautious with Robinson in making sure that he’s 100 percent and ready to go for the real thing instead of risking injury during preseason. The new #1 cornerback swears he’s ready to go both physically and mentally. With Santonio Holmes being jettisoned to New York, Robinson will likely draw one of the most consistent and tough receivers in the game in Hines Ward. If Robinson does have any rust in his first live action as a Falcon, will the defense suffer? Will he have any rust or be ready to roll?
2) Is the Offense Finally Ready to Go?

Fans have fretted, worried, and been very anxious about the Falcons offensive woes in preseason. Even though fans repeat to themselves that it’s just preseason as a hourly mantra, it’s still hard for many Falcons followers to rationalize how out of sync the offense looked in preseason. The reasons come quick and fast from fans, coaches, and pundits alike about the staff not wanting to show too much or that you simply can’t put too much stock into preseason. The Falcons had their moments of efficiency for sure, but they also plenty of episodes of sputtering. Its easy to place the blame on Ryan, but the receivers, offensive line, running backs, and play-calling also looked suspect at time. They tell us that when Pittsburgh gets here they’ll be ready to go. Will they?
3) Can the Falcons Pressure and Confuse Dennis Dixon?

Can Falcons D Pressure Dixon? (J.Getz/AJC)

When the suspension came down for Steelers franchise QB Ben Roethlisberger and many realized that the Falcons would miss the Super Bowl winning signal caller, some immediately put the game into a winnable category. When news came out a couple of days ago that veteran backups Charlie Batch or Byron Leftwich wouldn’t be starting, than some notched in the much easier win column. In the words of Lee Corso, “Not So Fast My Friend!” We won’t confuse Dennis Dixon with the likes of Randall Cunningham or Tom Brady, but the guy is talented and has had big game experience. Dixon nearly led the Steelers to a big upset of the Baltimore Ravens last year and can count on one of the best defenses in the league to help him out. It will be up to the Falcons to pressure and confuse the young QB, because like Josh Freeman last year, if he’s allowed to get into a rhythm with his defense backing him up…watch out. Can the Falcons take advantage of the young Dixon?
4) Can Sam Baker and Co. Protect Matt Ryan?

James Harrison, Lamar Woodley, James Farrior, Lawrence Timmons, and the list goes on and on. The Falcons offensive line will be in for one of their toughest fights as they open the season in Pittsburgh. Regardless of what the Steelers offense does, their defense is still one of the most feared in the NFL. Although the Falcons didn’t look spectacular in preseason, they absolutely will have to be on the top of their game against one of the most aggressive defenses in the NFL. Sam Baker will be matched up against 2008 NFL Defensive MVP James Harrison. He may have digressed a little last year, but he’s still one of the most feared linebackers in the league for his high motor and relentless pursuit of the QB. Sam Baker has certainly had his own up and downs, so the cliché will surely ring true that the Falcons offensive fate will rest on the offensive line’s ability to not only protect Ryan, but also give him enough time to find a rhythm. Can the Falcons OL keep Ryan upright?
5) Will Kicking Game Decide the Outcome?

Even though Matt Bryant allayed some fears by making several field goals in a row to close out the preseason, he was (and is still) giving many fans a recurring nightmare about a professional NFL kicker missing extremely easy field goals that could have swayed the game in the Falcons favor. Fans are on pins and needles that Matt Bryant isn’t Jason Elam 2.0 with no backup plan as devised by the General Manager, Head Coach, and Front Office. The weather forecast is calling for winds of up to 9 miles per hour for Sunday afternoon. Will the kicking game make the big difference in the outcome? Are you worried?
6) Can the New Look D-Line Hold Mendenhall Under Control?

Abe and Biermann Ready to Roll? (J.Getz/AJC)

The news that Kroy Biermann was finally awarded his much due starting position at defensive end came with immense delight from fans. Abraham, Biermann, Sidbury Jr., and Anderson will hopefully provide the pressure from the outside, but the real battle could be on the inside. The Falcons best defensive lineman of 2009, Jonathan Babineaux, will not be suiting up and Peria Jerry will make his first start since his knee injury last season. Trey Lewis not only shocked many in making the roster, but will starting alongside Jerry on Sunday. New draft pick Corey Peters and last years surprise Vance Walker will likely be in the mix as well. Jamaal Anderson also could play a huge role in the inside as well. Rashard Mendenhall is one of the fast rising running backs and the Steelers will look to pound the rock early and often to protect their young quarterback. The outside pressure will likely be better, but can the DT’s handle the Steeler’s running game?