SB Nation's Atlanta Falcons blog, The Falcoholic, was kind enough to sit down and answer five questions in advance of Monday's game.
1. What are the big factors behind Atlanta's 1-3 start?
There are many, many factors. The Falcons have been ravaged by injuries this season, which has forced them to rely on some players who are simply not ready for primetime. They've also committed an unusual number of penalties, the offensive line has been terrible at protecting Matt Ryan, they've been lousy in the red zone and the play calling has been questionable. Also, our pets' heads are falling off.
2. Your team has a number of household names. Point out somebody not as well known who could make a big impact on this game.
You'll want to keep an eye out for Joplo Bartu. The Falcons could be down three linebackers who had starting roles at some point this season, leaving the UDFA rookie Bartu as the only player who has had any sort of success this year. The Falcons will need him to handle Kellen Winslow and pitch in against the run, and he could have a major impact.
3. How do you think Mike Nolan attacks a rookie, mistake-prone quarterback?
I think he's going to try to bait Smith into mistakes by moving the defensive front around a lot and trying to dare him to throw to a receiver who looks open but is actually covered. I think he should blitz like crazy to get after Smith, try to rattle him and force him into mistakes, but he's shown a reluctance to send the house this season so far. Look for plenty of smoke and mirrors, basically.
4. Name a weak point on the Falcons offense the Jets should look to exploit.
The Falcons have an offensive line that simply hasn't been able to consistently provide Matt Ryan with a clean pocket. They've been able to stabilize it a bit in the last couple of weeks, but Ryan is hearing footsteps and sailing a few throws and there's still a prime opportunity to collapse the interior with Peter Konz struggling at center. Lamar Holmes and Jeremy Trueblood are not world beaters at tackle, either. Attacking the line and trying to force Ryan to get rid of the ball quickly would go a long way.
5. Name a weak point on the Falcons defense the Jets should look to exploit.
As I mentioned, the Falcons are down to the dregs at linebacker outside of Bartu. If you can get your running backs involved in the passing game and push for some two tight end sets, you should have some success moving the football by exploiting that weakness.