Talk of the town
Five topics suitable for inane debate on talk radio.
1. Hey, nice hire: Stopped the run. Attacked the quarterback. Eliminated the deep passes. Sign this new defensive coordinator to a long-term contract, pronto.
2. Kudos on offense, too: The Bucs did not run the ball well, but they were still committed to it. And it paid off on consecutive play-action passes for 38 and 42 yards. The threat of the run is crucial to Josh Freeman's success. He was 5-of-10 for 42 yards on third down but 15-of-19 for 208 yards otherwise.
3. It's called strategic thrift: So what if Michael Turner has averaged 99 yards a game since signing with Atlanta as a free agent in 2008? The Falcons don't lead the league in available salary cap space, do they?
4. An unforgiving league: He was waived by the Texans, Ravens and Vikings before getting in his first NFL game a few weeks ago. Then Derrick Roberson is asked to protect a lead in the final minutes after Aqib Talib was hurt. Not every storybook ends happily.
5. The cornerstone cornerback: If anyone wondered why Ronde Barber was not part of the pensioner's purge along with Derrick Brooks and company in the spring, the answer should be obvious by now. At 34, Barber is still a playmaker.
A list of five
Five surprises in new-look defense.
5. D.C. socialites crashed the huddle and made two tackles.
4. Convinced Elin Woods to crack some heads.
3. Cardboard cutout of Gaines Adams had as many sacks as the original.
2. The "buy one, get one free" coordinator sale.
1. Discovered that blitzes are, in fact, legal.
Five decisions revisited
1. The fake punt: The good — From the Atlanta 39, it's not a bad time to gamble. The bad — With defense cruising, why take a risk? The verdict — Didn't work, but it's defensible.
2. The 51-yard field-goal try: The good — With Dirk Johnson hurt, a punt was no sure bet. The bad — A miss gave Atlanta field position. The verdict — Too risky considering it would only increase the lead from four to seven.
3. Jeremy Trueblood's helmet removal: The good — A 320-pound lineman fighting a 193-pound corner. The bad — That whole 15-yard penalty thing. The verdict — Anyone taking a helmet off to fight may already be familiar with brain damage.
4. Demotion of Jim Bates: The good — Returned to a familiar defensive style. The bad — Looked like goobers to rest of the world. The verdict — At least the goobers have a pass rush now.
5. A defensive timeout with 26 seconds left: The good — Got a look at Atlanta's formation. The bad — Gave Falcons a respite after six consecutive incompletions. The verdict — Not so good.
Five lousy picks
Checking out the best bets for the first pick in the 2010 draft.
1. Rams: Now this is a franchise committed to the art of stinking.
2. Browns: Hmm, even Charlie Weis feels sorry for Eric Mangini.
3. Bucs: Next three opponents are a combined 13-20.
4. Lions: Just clinched a ninth consecutive losing season.
5. Rams: Yes, bad enough to make the list twice.
Final five words
Glimpse of a brighter future.