If any of you follow my college football blog then you know that I am a big fan on getting different perspectives. I enjoy getting local perspectives on teams and I also like to see what others think about my team. Since we are on the Bloguin network I thought I would take advantage of some of the local resources and see what some of the other NFL blogs on the network think about the Atlanta Falcons. Where should we start? How bout with our biggest rival, the New Orleans Saints. We caught up with Andrew from The Saints Nation to get a Saints fans perspective on our favorite team...
Grits Blitz: What are your overall thoughts on the Falcons?
The Saints Nation: You mean other than my pure deep seated hatred of them? I definitely despise the Falcons with a burning passion as a Saints fan. Always have. I have been a Saints fan since I was born practically, in 1980, so I still have vivid memories of Deion Sanders high stepping into the end zone and you guys stealing a plethora of our guys (Bobby Hebert, Brett Maxie, Morten Andersen, Craig Heyward, Aaron Stecker, Joe Horn etc...). To me it's always been the most underrated rivalry in all of sports. We're basically battling for pride in the deep south. I definitely expect a very tight game every single time the Saints play them. It's just a dirty and physical rivalry where both teams, and especially both fan bases, hate each other. I definitely don't take a win for granted, Atlanta is a playoff team. I think Atlanta is a very good team right now but they haven't been able to get over that hump to be special come playoff time. I have to question if this current regime has what it takes in the big moments. The last two playoffs appearances have been embarrassments for you guys. So as far as a regular season opponent, it's definitely the game I most look forward to and there's definitely a realization that it will be a very tough game. That said, with core players like Michael Turner, John Abraham and Tony Gonzalez all declining, they're going to need new superstars. I also don't know if Matt Ryan will ever be elite.
Grits Blitz: What do you think of the off-season coaching changes that the Falcons made this season?
The Saints Nation: I admittedly don't know much about Dirk Koetter but it sure doesn't feel like an upgrade over Mike Mularkey at this point. One thing I have never liked about the Falcons under this regime is they seem to be well coached. I'm hoping that will be less the case with Koetter. I'm taking a little bit of a wait and see approach with him, but I respect Mularkey as a solid offensive mind so my initial impression is that move may be a downgrade. Brian VanGorder has kind of been hit or miss for me. At times he's developed a terrific gameplan to slow down the Saints and at times the Saints have been able to pour on points. Overall I also think he's a fairly solid coach. I'm glad to see him go. That said, I have to think Mike Nolan is a huge upgrade. Nolan is a guy I wanted the Saints to hire when Gregg Williams left - though I'm happy with Spagnuolo too. I think you guys have to be happy about that hire, Nolan is respected by almost everyone as one of the best defensive minds in the game.
Grits Blitz: If you could take one offensive player and one defensive player from the Falcons team and put them on the Saints who would it be?
The Saints Nation: Maybe Julio Jones on offense because he's so explosive. Honestly, there's not much I'd want from the Falcons offensively. Not trying to sound conceded or whatever, but the Saints just became the #1 offense in NFL history yardage wise. There's not much I would change, if anything. As good as Michael Turner is, I'd rather have Pierre Thomas/Darren Sproles. As good as Gonzalez is, I'd rather have Jimmy Graham at this point. As good as your line is, ours is better. Roddy White is a good player but I refuse to say I'd want him because I'll never forgive him for what he said about New Orleans. Roddy White is the player I like least in the NFL, absolutely can't stand him. I'd rather cut off a limb than root for him as a Saint. The Saints don't have much at center so I guess McClure is another one, but he's old and declining so I'm not even sure on that one. I guess Matt Ryan would be a nice backup for Brees :)
Defensively that's a completely different story. The Saints are devoid of a guy on the front four that can get to the passer. Even though he's old, John Abraham is a game changer. I'd love to have a back end playmaker like Brent Grimes too, and Lofton/Weatherspoon are better than any linebackers we have at this point. But I still think even at his age I stick with Abraham because the Saints haven't had the luxury of an elite pass rusher in the entire Sean Payton era. Would be nice.
Grits Blitz: What lasting memory do you have of the Falcons/Saints rivalry?
The Saints Nation: So many. Too many to count. That 4th and inches stop of Michael Turner this year was pretty special though. By far the best memory was the first game back from Katrina where we won 20-3 and shut down Michael Vick. I've never been to a louder sporting event in my life, and that game meant more than football in a way so there was a lot of emotion there. Roddy White in the 80's for me was Deion Sanders. I remember him picking off a crucial pass in the end zone of Bobby Hebert's in the playoffs. So crushing. I remember Morten Andersen defecting only to break an NFL record 3 50 yard field goals in one game to beat us, including one at the buzzer. I have so many positive and negative memories... which is why that has shaped out to be such a great rivalry. They used to call the 49ers and Saints a rivalry, but it's not really that when one team is doing all the winning. I feel like historically if you add everything up things are pretty close. The all time series is 46-40 Falcons with the Saints winning 10 of the last 12. And I feel like both teams are always bad and good around the same time, so it's pretty balanced.
Grits Blitz: Which (All-time) Atlanta Falcons player do you have the most respect for?
The Saints Nation: Not Roddy White, that's for damn sure. Not Michael Vick either, haha. I have to put Jerry Glanville in that White/Vick category too!
I'd probably go with Warrick Dunn. First off he was small and many never gave him a shot at being a college football player (LSU passed on him) much less an NFL superstar. He was from Baton Rouge so he has local ties and he is a truly good person that helps single parents purchase homes. Tragedy happened to him (lost him mom, I'm sure you know the story) and he made a huge positive from that experience. Not many people are like that, so I've always had a huge amount of respect for him. That, and he was a fantastic player despite his diminutive size. He hurt the Saints badly for the better part of a decade, but I couldn't bring myself to hate him. Just too good of a guy and defied to many odds to root against.
Editor Note: I just want to give a big thanks to Andrew for taking the time to talk about the Falcons and their rivalry with the Saints. They say to keep your friends close and your enemies closer so visit his website to check up on the Saints and you can follow him on Twitter @SaintsNationBlg.