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A CHEMISTRY LESSON


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They had a young quarterback as a first-year starter. They didn’t talk about the season before. They didn’t care about the gloomy projections. Or they fed off them.

The 2008 Falcons? No. The 2001 New England Patriots.

“A lot of similarities,” said Lawyer Milloy, the Falcons’ safety and a starter on the Patriots’ surprising 2001 Super Bowl team. “The teams are similar because of the bond the players had with each other. There were low expectations. But we just focused on getting stronger every week. Nobody ever saw us getting someplace. But at the end there we were against the Rams in the Super Bowl, getting it done. That was the best. That’s the way you’re supposed to win games.”

This doesn’t mean Matt Ryan is Tom Brady. It doesn’t mean Mike Smith is Bill Belichick, or Lawyer Milloy at 35 is Lawyer Milloy at 28, or the Falcons of ‘08 are the Patriots of ‘01 and they’re going to the Super Bowl.

But if any team in the middle of a December jumble had the look of a playoff team, it’s the Falcons. At this point, the surprise would be if they didn’t get in.

They are 8-4. They have a quarterback, Ryan, who isn’t prone to rookie meltdowns. They have a team that already has won road games at Green Bay and San Diego. They have beaten two of the NFC’s most physical teams, Carolina and Chicago. Their running game is second only to the New York Giants’. The defense gives up plays but is improving and opportunistic. Overall, the team is healthy at key positions and has steadily improved from Game 1 to 12 —- which differentiates them from almost everybody in the NFC.

In four weeks, we’ll find out for sure. But right now, the feeling here is that they’re a playoff team.

Milloy is not the type of person to say he is surprised. To acknowledge surprise would be to acknowledge doubt. Leaders don’t do that.

But when asked about his satisfaction level, he admitted the obvious.

“At age 35, in Year 13, this is the kind of year I needed,” he said. “Last year took a toll on me. Kurt Warner said it best: Seasons like this make you feel young again.”

It’s easy to get spoiled. Milloy made the playoffs in his first three NFL seasons. He started in a Super Bowl as a rookie in 1996. He won a ring in his sixth season in 2001.

He hasn’t been on a playoff team since.

Last year was a train wreck. From Michael Vick to Bobby Petrino to all the morass in between, the Falcons’ season ranked as arguably the worst for any franchise in pro sports history.

So imagine how an 8-4 season is being received by Milloy.

“We have a group of guys who were willing to work,” he said. “From the beginning, there was never any talk about last year, even from the college guys who knew what had happened. If anything, that kind of galvanized our individual relationships.

“You build your foundations through tough times. We brought in the right guys, whether off the street or free agents or in the draft. Then Smitty had a fresh new attitude. In that first meeting with us, he said there were going to be hiccups, but we would get through it. Everybody just went from there.”

Asked about the difference between a playoff team and a non-playoff team, Milloy listed talent, health and leadership

But the most important factor?

“Chemistry,” he said. “In this league, teams are changing players every year. The teams that can build relationships and find their identity the fastest are the ones that succeed.”

He saw this happen once before.

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Chemistry,” he said. “In this league, teams are changing players every year. The teams that can build relationships and find their identity the fastest are the ones that succeed.”

Lawyer Milloy

Now thats signature material right there folks.

Indeed it is, sir.

That was a great read, thanks for posting. It's always good to know that whenever I want to find something to read about the falcons I can just come to afmb and find some good stuff that someone else has dug up and decided to share with us.

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They had a young quarterback as a first-year starter. They didn’t talk about the season before. They didn’t care about the gloomy projections. Or they fed off them.

The 2008 Falcons? No. The 2001 New England Patriots.

“A lot of similarities,” said Lawyer Milloy, the Falcons’ safety and a starter on the Patriots’ surprising 2001 Super Bowl team. “The teams are similar because of the bond the players had with each other. There were low expectations. But we just focused on getting stronger every week. Nobody ever saw us getting someplace. But at the end there we were against the Rams in the Super Bowl, getting it done. That was the best. That’s the way you’re supposed to win games.”

This doesn’t mean Matt Ryan is Tom Brady. It doesn’t mean Mike Smith is Bill Belichick, or Lawyer Milloy at 35 is Lawyer Milloy at 28, or the Falcons of ‘08 are the Patriots of ‘01 and they’re going to the Super Bowl.

But if any team in the middle of a December jumble had the look of a playoff team, it’s the Falcons. At this point, the surprise would be if they didn’t get in.

They are 8-4. They have a quarterback, Ryan, who isn’t prone to rookie meltdowns. They have a team that already has won road games at Green Bay and San Diego. They have beaten two of the NFC’s most physical teams, Carolina and Chicago. Their running game is second only to the New York Giants’. The defense gives up plays but is improving and opportunistic. Overall, the team is healthy at key positions and has steadily improved from Game 1 to 12 —- which differentiates them from almost everybody in the NFC.

In four weeks, we’ll find out for sure. But right now, the feeling here is that they’re a playoff team.

Milloy is not the type of person to say he is surprised. To acknowledge surprise would be to acknowledge doubt. Leaders don’t do that.

But when asked about his satisfaction level, he admitted the obvious.

“At age 35, in Year 13, this is the kind of year I needed,” he said. “Last year took a toll on me. Kurt Warner said it best: Seasons like this make you feel young again.”

It’s easy to get spoiled. Milloy made the playoffs in his first three NFL seasons. He started in a Super Bowl as a rookie in 1996. He won a ring in his sixth season in 2001.

He hasn’t been on a playoff team since.

Last year was a train wreck. From Michael Vick to Bobby Petrino to all the morass in between, the Falcons’ season ranked as arguably the worst for any franchise in pro sports history.

So imagine how an 8-4 season is being received by Milloy.

“We have a group of guys who were willing to work,” he said. “From the beginning, there was never any talk about last year, even from the college guys who knew what had happened. If anything, that kind of galvanized our individual relationships.

“You build your foundations through tough times. We brought in the right guys, whether off the street or free agents or in the draft. Then Smitty had a fresh new attitude. In that first meeting with us, he said there were going to be hiccups, but we would get through it. Everybody just went from there.”

Asked about the difference between a playoff team and a non-playoff team, Milloy listed talent, health and leadership

But the most important factor?

“Chemistry,” he said. “In this league, teams are changing players every year. The teams that can build relationships and find their identity the fastest are the ones that succeed.”

He saw this happen once before.

The first time I believed every word from a Lawyer

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