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Pre-Game Recon: Five Questions With The Falcoholic

Looking for some Falcons knowledge before they take on the Texans in a preseason game tomorrow night? Check out what an informed Atlanta fan had to say about his team when quizzed by Battle Red Blog.

We did like his dad in Houston.
We did like his dad in Houston.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Without a doubt, the best facet of being a part of SB Nation is the availability of intelligent fans of other teams. You're free to talk shop, ask questions, and learn in ways you generally don't have the opportunity to do elsewhere. Thus, it's always a treat when another site wants to trade insight in the days leading up to a Texans game.

While it's still the preseason, I wasn't about to miss out on the opportunity to interact with the inimitable Dave Choate over at SB Nation's site for all things Atlanta and/or Falcon, The Falcoholic.

Below you'll find Dave's answers to the five questions I asked him; my answers to the queries he asked me can be read and mocked here. Prepare to be schooled in the ways of the ATL.

1. T.J. Yates will always hold a special place in the hearts of Texans fans. How has he looked for the Falcons so far? Is he a lock for the QB2 gig in Atlanta?

A: He's looked like a perfectly competent backup quarterback, which I think is why the Falcons wanted him. They've gone without a veteran option for a little while now, and honestly I think he's more or less locked into that backup spot. His only real competition is Sean Renfree, the second year seventh-rounder out of Duke, and while he's been impressive, he still has strides to make.

I definitely feel more comfortable with Yates as the backup than I have since Chris Redman was still alive.

2. I know it's early, but how are you feeling about "Hard Knocks" featuring the Falcons? Enlightening look behind the curtain, annoying distraction, or something else?

A: I think it's a largely harmless, entertaining look behind the scenes. There have been a couple of scenes I wish hadn't made it to air—Peria Jerry retiring was one, some awkwardness with rookie Ra'Shede Hageman another—but I don't view it as a distraction in the slightest.

At its best moments, it's forced fans who were furious about last year to see these guys as human beings, and occasionally damn funny ones. At its very best, it has featured Bryan Cox, who should have his own network.

3. If you had to summarize what happened to take the Falcons from 13-3 in 2013 to 4-12 in 2013, how would you do it? Do you think sufficient measures have been taken to ensure a proper rebound (e.g., at least eight wins) in 2014?

A: I think it was a combination of injuries, poor evaluation of the offensive and defensive lines, an overreliance on unready young players and the team's luck in close games completely evaporating. Add it up and you have a miserable football team, one that erased five years of goodwill in about four months.

I do think the Falcons have taken the steps necessary to get this team back to .500, if not better. They're healthy, first of all, and they made major acquisitions on the offensive line (Jon Asamoah, Jake Matthews) and defensive line (Paul Soliai, Tyson Jackson, Ra'Shede Hageman) that should give them more strength up front. The young guys they had to lean on a year ago are a year older and look improved thus far, and while you can't predict luck, the Falcons will hope to not be quite so abysmal in those tight contests this year. I think adding all of those things up adds 4-5 wins to the team's total, even with a tough schedule.

4. Devonta Freeman seems to be getting rave reviews thus far. Assuming Steven Jackson is healthy, how much work do you expect Freeman to get this year? Or, if Jackson cannot stay healthy, what kind of split do you expect to see between Freeman and Jacquizz Rogers?

A: Freeman won't get the lion's share of carries this year unless Steven Jackson can't go. I see him being used as a third-down back and occasional early-down back when the Falcons want to give Jackson a breather or see Freeman's superior vision and speed as an asset against certain defenses.

If S-Jax is hurt, though, things change dramatically. I envision Freeman getting more early down work than Jacquizz Rodgers, who will likely be the third down back, and Antone Smith, who will be used sparingly. He's got a bright future for these Falcons.

5. What positions or areas give you the most concern for the 2014 Atlanta Falcons?

A: Right now, it's center, the pass rush in general and free safety, with tight end earning honorable mention. Joe Hawley is tough but can be destroyed by big, strong linemen over the middle. The pass rush looks tepid at best. Free safety comes down to a 3rd round pick who isn't ready, an oft-injured veteran in Dwight Lowery and 2013 seventh-rounder Kemal Ishmael, which isn't a murderer's row. Tight end has Levine Toilolo, who has the size to be a real asset but has only looked okay thus far in camp.

This roster still has some major holes, in other words, none larger than the pass rush. I can't see them winning more than 9-10 games unless they can address that.

Thanks to Dave for taking the time to answer my questions. Make sure to head on over to The Falcoholic to commune with Falcons fans before, during, and after tomorrow night's game.

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