("D-Block" is courtesy of AtlantaFalcons.com)
The 2012 Falcons are well aware that, at 7-0, they’ve had the best start in franchise history. On the field, Atlanta is all business, but when it comes to the locker room, it seems like the Falcons have developed genuine chemistry, which makes it easer when dealing with adverse circumstances.
“I’ve said it many times and I’m going to say it again -- I know it’s about winning on Sunday, but you win first in the locker room,” coach Mike Smith said at Monday’s press conference after Atlanta’s 30-17 win over Philadelphia on Sunday.
The Falcons have a good mixture of mature veterans and promising younger players on both sides of the ball, but Matt Ryan sets the tone.
“You never see him get rattled,” center Todd McClure told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “He never changes.”
It’s that even-keeled approach that his teammates have become accustomed to, whether Atlanta is rolling, like it was Sunday against the Eagles, or in crunch time when Ryan is engineering a late-game comeback, like he’s done three times so far this season.
“When it’s time to go to work, they go to work,” Smith said. “For some of the things we do and how much fun we have, you might question our maturity, but I don’t have any doubt about how mature we are.”
If Ryan sets the example regarding the Falcons’ business-like routine on Sundays, then a number of defenders such as veteran LB Mike Peterson and S Thomas DeCoud set the precedent for a light locker room.
Peterson, a 14-year veteran who’s in his fourth season with the Falcons, has earned the respect of second-year linebacker Akeem Dent and third-year linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. The entire linebacking crew is so tight-knit that they’ve developed a weekly internet show called “D-block” that Falcons media personnel upload to the team’s website for fans to get a behind the scenes glimpse of Atlanta’s locker room.
The show is formatted with all the linebackers sitting in a circle and Peterson, the show’s host, questioning that particular week’s guest. The “interviews” are always informal, light-hearted and usually deteriorate into an on-camera dance party. "D-Block" has featured rookie OL Peter Konz, veteran CB Asante Samuel and safeties Thomas DeCoud and William Moore.
And while the show doesn’t directly translate to on-field victories, it goes to Smith’s point that the locker room is where the foundation of a season is built.
No one demonstrated that easy-going nature of the Falcons locker room more than DeCoud, when he addressed reporters on Wednesday wearing a “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” outfit to celebrate Halloween.
“You’ve got to have a good locker room. You’ve got to have a good team,” Smith said. “You’ve got to have guys that like to have fun, because if you don’t have fun in a long day --and there’s a lot of long days -- it gets tough. These guys know when to snap in and when to snap out.”
|Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud dressed as Will Smith from "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" to celebrate Halloween on Wednesday.|
(Photo courtesy of @FalconsJAdams)
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