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Falcons fans should just enjoy the ride

by Doug Gorman

The Atlanta Falcons are 5-2 and should be headed to the franchise's first ever back-to-back winning season.

However, to listen to fans on local talk radio, one would think the team is awful.

Some of the comments made Tuesday after the Falcons' Monday might win over the Jets were crazy. They ran the gambit of Michael Vick is not a good NFL quarterback, to the Falcons wouldn't have won had Vinny Testaverde not fumbled the football three times in the first half. Well, guess what, he did, and the Falcons responded, turning his miscues into points.

It just goes to prove how fickle fans can be. Until owner Arthur Blank bought this team from Smith family, few admitted to cheering for the Falcons. Nobody went out of their way to buy an Atlanta Falcons jersey. Now, Vick's jersey is among one of sports collectable's hottest items.

Blank restored hope in the franchise, with great hires.

The charsmatic owner made Home Depo part of business landscape, and he is looking like a genus as head of the Falcons. He decision to bring Jim Mora aboard as head coach and Rich McKay into the mix as the team's general manager is going to someday payoff in a Super Bowl title, maybe several.

Monday night Vick wasn't at his best, finishing the game 11-of-26 for 116 yards, he also threw three interceptions, but some of that is not all the young quarterback's problem. If the Falcons lack something on offense, it's a go-to wide receiver. Vick's best bet to complete a pass seems to be when tight end Alge Crumpler is his primary target, or when he is throwing to one of his running backs, not deep down field to one of his wide receivers.

But Vick doesn't have to throw for 300 yards for this team to win. Against the Jets, Vick did what he does best and moved the team down field with a solid running game. Like he does so well, Vick scored twice using his legs to find the end zone. That's why he has close to a 70 percent winning percentage as the Falcons' starting quarterback. In other words, his team responds to his being under center.

Some quarterbacks throw for 300 or more yards and their teams don't win. Maybe the only people who should be complain about Vick's numbers are fantasy football junkies, where numbers seem to mean more than the outcome of the football game.

What's makes the Falcons special is Vick also has a great supporting cast. The before mentioned Crumpler makes things happen. He's at his best after he catches the ball.

Warrick Dunn is the most underrated running back in the league. In addition to being a nice guy, his ability to find the holes is amazing.

His 155-yard performance against the Jets wasn't a fluke. The former Florida State star is playing the best football of his career at 30, about the time many running backs starting slowing down.

Although its ability to stop the run has come into question at times this season, the Falcons are also building a championship defense. In their Monday night victory, the Falcons held Jets' running back Curtis Martin to just 28 yards on 14 carries.

Defensive end Patrick Kearny, lineman Rod Coleman and linebacker Keith Brooking come to play every game. They are the nucleus of what is becoming a solid defense.

So, maybe critics of the Falcons should remember there are no points for style or putting up big numbers. Long-time Falcon fans should just be happy with the recent rurnaround. There were many seasons when the Falcons couldn't come close to winning five games in a season, maybe two seasons combined.

Falcons fans should just hop on the bandwagon and enjoy the ride, because a after years of floundering, an ugly win is better than a loss.

(Doug Gorman is sports editor of the Daily. His column runs on Thursdays. He can be e-mailed at dgorman@news-daily.com )