Extra MustardSI On CampusFantasyPhoto GalleriesSwimsuitVideoFanNationSI KidsTNT

Year of the Falcons (cont.)

Posted: Monday September 12, 2005 4:46PM; Updated: Tuesday September 13, 2005 12:03AM

4. Defense
Last season, with defensive guru Jim Mora on board, Atlanta's defense was solid, finishing fourth in the NFC in points allowed. The team needed depth at linebacker, so this year we've added Ed Hartwell and Ike Reese. It's simple, but it's improvement.

5. Management
To me, the most promising thing about these Falcons is the guys in charge know what they're doing. Sure, owner Arthur Blank has a creepy mustache, but everything he's done has pointed the Falcons toward becoming a quality organization, as Peter King explained months ago.


Mostly, Blank has surrounded himself with smart football people and let them do their jobs. And of course, the Falcons also have this Ron Mexico guy...

7. Michael Vick
It's impossible for me to state how thrilling it is to have Vick on my team. You all know what's it like to flip on NFL Primetime on Sunday night and see what trick Vick pulled? Imagine it counting for your team. With few national TV games in the past few years, I can't even tell you how excited I am to see Vick & Co. in tonight's game against the in-fighting Philidelphia Eagles.

In every NFL preview I've read this summer, people have talked about how Vick needs time to master the Falcons' modified West Coast offense. This is the same guy who led the Atlanta to 12-6 last year, right? The same guy that had a summer to work on his game, right? Why wouldn't he be better this year?

All the flash aside, the thing I like the most about Vick is he's a winner. It's not always pretty, it's not always textbook, but he figures out ways to win. As a starter, he's 24-13-1.

Add it all up, and the Falcons are -- for the first time in four decades -- ready to build on success, ready to put it all together and, for the first time in history, win it all.

For once, maybe we'll make history instead of drowning in it.

Game Of The Week

Reader Morgan in Memphis, Tenn., sent along this incredibly addicting challenge. And Morgan, sorry the Dawgs beat the Gamecocks on Saturday. OK, I'm not really sorry at all.

Good Cause Of The Week

Houston Rockets guard Derek Anderson has established a Hurricane Katrina relief fund and is selling T-shirts to raise money for the cause. You can find out more here. Good looking out, DA.

Lang Whitaker is the online editor at SLAM magazine and writes daily at http://www.SLAMonline.com.