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"Ryan, Falcons reminiscent of '01 Patriots"

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Hey, what do you know? The Broncos and Pat Bowlen read my column last week on firing Josh McDaniels! Good work, fellas! It’s a great day to be a Broncos fan with the overmatched McDaniels out the door.

Tom Brady sealed the 2010 MVP.


With the season winding down, which team tops our power rankings?

And who do the Falcons remind you of?

The Jets don’t show up, the Chargers don’t show up and the Colts don’t show up.

But we do, SCHEIN 9 style.

1. Falcons flying high

There are haters. There are critics. There are skeptics. And you can count media, fans, opposing players and coaches under these umbrellas.

They are calling the Falcons lucky. They will want a piece of Atlanta in the playoffs, liking the chances of their roster against Atlanta’s 53 guys.

Keep poking holes and questioning. The Falcons will keep playing the game the right way, keep creating their own luck, and keep winning until February.

Actually, the Falcons very much remind me of the 2001-02 Patriots.

New England had a supremely clutch Tom Brady. Atlanta has the ultra cool Matt Ryan, and Matty Ice reminds me so much of a young Brady with his precision and toughness when it matters the most. Mike Smith, while he certainly doesn’t get the pub of a Bill Belichick, is an excellent coach. The Falcons offensive line is so good and underrated. Atlanta’s running attack is better than the Patriots' back in the day.

And jog the mental Rolodex. Remember when Belichick was the star of the defense, and you didn’t know who Mike Vrabel was and you didn’t appreciate Tedy Bruschi. That's Atlanta's defense. Atlanta doesn’t commit penalties. Atlanta creates turnovers. These are Patriot traits. And the haters say there is luck involved. They will say Roddy White pushed off against the Ravens. I say the Falcons, like the Patriots, create their own breaks.

Let’s examine ...

Did you see Matty Ice against Tampa in the fourth quarter? It was Brady-esque, again. The Falcons were down by double digits entering the quarter, on the road against a really good division team. “Ice” put the Falcons ahead for good with a perfect strike to Michael Jenkins. And to set it up, Ryan hit Roddy White on a ridiculous completion for 25 yards on a third-and-forever.

This is what Ryan does. This is what he did on the game-winning drive against the Packers last week. This is what he’s been doing since the brilliant Thomas Dimitroff (a former Patriots executive) drafted him.

The win against Tampa represents the sixth comeback of the season in the fourth quarter or overtime for Matty Ice. That’s just ridiculous. And even more amazing, it was the 13th game-winning drive of his career. Oh, by the way, Ryan is 6-1 in December in his three-year career. Matt Ryan is exactly what Brady was/is to the Patriots.

Unsung heroes (a 2001 Patriots trend) emerge. The immortal Eric Weems was making a seemingly innocuous return with the Falcons down 10 with 10 minutes to go in the game. Weems appeared to be on the road to nowhere, about to be tackled or run into a wall six different times. And he kept persisting and scampering and hugging the sideline and somehow, out of nowhere, gave the Falcons a 103-yard return and a gigantic score.

The haters are saying the Falcons were lucky, again, like they were with the White call against Baltimore. Brent Grimes never caught the interception tossed by the Bucs' Josh Freeman. They will cite our guy, the great Mike Pereira, saying he thought the ball hit the ground as Grimes rolled over. Just like they say the Patriots would’ve never been the Patriots if it wasn’t for the controversial “tuck rule.” Frankly, I never saw conclusive visual evidence that the ball was dislodged from Grimes’ grasp. They called it a pick on the field. I think it was an interception.

Quick – name a Falcon on defense.

It’s an unsung, underrated bunch that won’t ever be confused with the 1985 Bears. But like the 2001-02 Patriots, they play great team defense. Atlanta makes plays.

Curtis Lofton is an excellent linebacker. Grimes is a really good player, with four picks on the season. William Moore has four as well. Veteran Dunta Robinson adds talent and credibility to the defensive backfield. Jonathan Babineaux defined the clutch play on Sunday with a key fourth-quarter sack against the seemingly impossible to bring down Freeman. Babineaux is a great example of the coaching that the Falcons — specifically the defense — get under Smith

You don’t think Smith is great? Do you watch football? Do you remember what the Falcons looked like after Bob Petrino quit like a coward? Did you think in the preseason that the Atlanta Falcons roster was one of the five best in pro football? This incredible achievement, and overachievement, defines great coaching. Smith is 30-14 coaching the Falcons. Amazing.

Atlanta is 10-2, best in the NFC. Mike Smith doesn’t lose at home. Matt Ryan is a legendary 18-1 in his career in the Georgia Dome. They are smart and tough. They don’t panic. Nobody is beating the Falcons in Atlanta in January.

The NFC has really strong teams, with the exception of whichever squad emerges in the NFC West. The Eagles are super confident with Mike Vick. The Giants have a great defense and will finally get healthy over the next few weeks. The Packers have a great quarterback and stingy defense. The Saints are the Super Bowl champs and remain ultra-dangerous. The Bears have found balance on offense and can shut you down on defense. And when any of these clubs come to Atlanta in January, they will look at the film, like foes did in the early Brady/Belichick years, and say that we can beat this team. New Orleans will say it missed field goals. Green Bay will say if Aaron Rodgers didn’t fumble, if there wasn’t a penalty on the kickoff on the Atlanta game-winning drive.

Keep hating. Keep questioning. And Atlanta will keep winning.

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Schein is easily one of the dumbest(and most unlikable) talking heads around. Listen to his awful radio voice and look at a picture of him at the same time...it's hilarious and pathetic.

I remember before the season, he was one of the guys dogging the Bucs the hardest. Talking about they were the worst team in the league and wouldn't win 4 games within the next 2 seasons. Then once the season started and the Bucs started winning, he progressively began to slobber all over the Bucs and drool every time he talked about Freeman or Mike Williams. The guy is just an idiot.

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As much as I hate to say it, I don't mind the Patriots, and love to be compared to them. The '01 AFC Championship was an amazing game to watch. Think about it; the Patriots were 'The Team of the Decade' of the 2000s like the Steelers in the 70s, 49rs in the 80s, and Cowboys in the 90s. With the young unit and great chemistry, the Falcons very well could define this next decade.... Exciting Thought.

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