Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith talked to 790 The Zone in Atlanta on the morning of his team's huge Monday Night Football meeting with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Manning hasn't played in Atlanta since the Bobby Petrino and Michael Vick Trial year of 2007, and plenty's changed on both sides. Smith told 790 he's anticipating the best Manning possible:
"I think that Peyton Manning has got such a good grasp of how people are trying to defend him. And when you prepare for Peyton you’ve gotta make sure that you don’t give him any pre-snap keys in terms of what coverage you’re going to be in. Because if you do, he’s gonna find the right place to go with the football — whether it’s a running play, getting into the right running play, or throwing the ball in the right area when you’ve got zone or man coverage.
The thing that makes it tough is that when they get into their no-huddle it’s not an either/or check with me, he’s got the whole playbook available to him, and when he has that much latitude at the line of scrimmage it really makes it difficult for the defenses."
A win for Smith and the Falcons would be rare -- despite a run of winning season and playoff wins, the Falcons have only three wins on Sunday, Monday and Thursday nights in his run (with two of those wins coming against a woeful 2011 Jaguars team and a sub-.500 Bears team three years ago) creating a national perception the team isn't ready for big games against top opponents.