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Nice number, but Atlanta also allowed 129 rushing yards a game--most in the NFL--so doing a better job of stopping the run is just as important as getting to the passer more often. Hartwell has to rediscover the form he showed in three seasons as a starter with the Ravens, when he averaged 10 tackles a game. As for Milloy, the question is, What does he have left? Buffalo gave up on the 32-year-old former Pro Bowl player because of his paltry big-play production: one sack, one interception, zero forced fumbles last year. Atlanta may be deluding itself in thinking it got the Milloy who helped the Patriots win their first Super Bowl.
And speaking of delusional.... At some point NFL fans and media have to stop wishing that Vick will become a pocket passer and accept him for what he is: a running quarterback. Coach Jim Mora must spend half his time with the media defending his quarterback. "I liken what Mike's going through to what Steve Young went through when he got to San Francisco," says Mora. "He couldn't do anything right. He ran around too much. Then Steve took the team to the Super Bowl, and all of a sudden he was a good quarterback."
After two preseason games, what encouraged the Falcons most is that Vick was looking at his second and third options much more often than last year. To Vick that doesn't mean he'll cut down on his scrambling. "I actually think I may run a little more this year," Vick says, a revelation that Mora won't be crazy about. "I'm not going to force it, and I am going to look for my receivers the way I should. But I'm going to let my instincts take over."
Vick confessed after last season that he didn't try his hardest in the final game--a 44--11 loss to Carolina--and he still regrets it. "I remember sitting home, night after night in February, watching our games from last year," he says. "I must've watched each one three, four times. It left me with a hunger to play better than I ever have."
"Michael has a chip on his shoulder about what happened last year," says general manager Rich McKay, "and that's not all bad."