The Atlanta Falcons got blown out 32-6 by quarterback Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1. This week the challenge is even stiffer, as Atlanta traveling to take on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith is always hesitant to single out individual players on his team or on the opponents' rosters, but Buccaneers quarterback Brady is no ordinary player.
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"It's everybody," said Smith. "But the one thing I do know about Tom Brady is, he's probably the best, or one of the best I've ever seen with situational football. You make mistakes; he's going to expose you. You make errors with substitution; he's going to expose you."
"That's why to me, one of the many reasons that makes Tom Brady who he is. He plays the situations just as good or better than anybody I've seen."
Smith understands the challenge his team faces every week. Asked how he was going to slow down Brady, and Smith wouldn't bite.
Said Smith: "Not many people have slowed him down. But it's a football game. It's a challenge every week. It's everybody you play. We didn't do anything to affect Jalen Hurts and you saw what happened."
"That's life, every week, certain players are good players. That's what you game plan for. The matchups and stuff you look forward to. It's kind of a hard question to answer because you're sitting there one, not going to sit here saying 'hey, here's our scheme this week', and two, it's kind of a loaded question because, [I'm] not going to fall for the trap."
While Brady and his seven Super Bowl rings have earned the right to poke fun at Atlanta from time to time, Smith admits he's not going to poke the GOAT.
"Nobody's done it better than him," said Smith. "We’ve got all the respect in the world. There's a reason he's won seven Super Bowls. Like I alluded to earlier, if you make mistakes, he’s going to make you pay. We’ve got to get better, and we got a hell of a challenge at 4 p.m. Sunday."
Smith alluded to Hurts and the job he did against the Falcons last week. Hurts had 261 yards and three touchdowns on 27 of 35 passing last week and compiled a lofty 126.4 quarterback rating.
The good news for the Falcons is that even Brady can't be much better than Hurts was against them last week, and he won't be the running threat that Hurts was against Atlanta. last week.
Hurts used his legs to extend plays and rush for 62 yards on seven carries.
The bad news is, if the Falcons let Brady complete 77 percent of his passes like Hurts, they'll be lucky if he only throws for three touchdowns.
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Atlanta opened the week as a 12.5-point underdog to the Buccaneers, the larges spread in the NFL for Week 2. The spread has since ballooned to 13.5.
For the Falcons to have any success against Brady at all, they'll need to put more pressure on him than they did Hurts. The Falcons only managed to sack Hurts once in 35 pass attempts and only hit him twice all game.
If Brady is that comfortable in the pocket, it's going to be a long day for the Falcons secondary. While the Dallas Cowboys failed to register a sack against Tampa last week, they did manage to hit him seven times. Brady threw two interceptions along with his four touchdowns against Dallas.
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Smith his right when he says the Falcons have a challenge ahead of them on Sunday, and the Falcons need to improve quickly off of their poor opening week performance.