Coach Jim Mora
Since reaching the NFC Championship Game as a rookie coach in the 2004 season, Mora's club is 15--14 with a penchant for late-season swoons. But last spring he signed an extension through 2009, and he's well-regarded by his players, who gave him a game ball after they snapped their losing streak two weeks ago.
Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp
His play-calling has been criticized, but against the Bucs, Knapp was sharp—as when he called a draw on third-and-four in the third quarter and fullback Justin Griffith juked for a 21-yard score. But questions remain as to whether Knapp's West Coast system is the best fit for Mike Vick. Speaking of whom....
His record as a starter is 38-24-1, but the first pick in the 2001 draft knows it'll take much more to silence critics who say he doesn't throw well enough to win a championship. Atlanta has the top rushing offense in the league—and ranks last in passing. "To run a controlled passing attack, it's essential to have an accurate passer," says an AFC scout. "He's a rare guy who causes defenses to prepare differently, but whether his inconsistencies can improve remains to be seen."
For years, receivers have taken blame for Vick's poor passing stats. This season they've earned that blame. After five dropped passes in a loss to the Saints, Blank lamented, "We have three first-round draft choices [ Michael Jenkins, Ashley Lelie and Roddy White], and none of them can catch the ball." Lelie, who came from Denver in an off-season trade, wasn't a factor for much of the season but made two acrobatic catches on Sunday. "We need that," Mora says. "They've been under so much fire that anytime they catch it we all kind of get excited."
Injuries to ends Patrick Kerney and John Abraham, DB Kevin Mathis and linebacker Edgerton Hartwell don't fully account for the pass defense's slipping to last in the NFC. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall has allowed too many big plays.
G.M. Rick McKay
McKay's strong personnel record has been sullied a bit by those butterfingered receivers, and the six-year, $45 million free-agent deal he gave Abraham wasn't looking too hot, with the former Jet missing five of the first 12 games. But on Sunday Abraham forced a fumble on a sack, and linebacker Demorrio Williams picked up the ball and carried it 54 yards for a TD that gave Atlanta the lead for good.
Said Vick of the victory, "It gives us confidence to go into Saturday's game against Dallas and play for something that we really need. That's a win."
Read more from Nunyo Demasio at SI.com/nfl.
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