After defeating the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football, the Atlanta Falcons head towards the Pacific to take on yet another AFC West opponent in the San Diego Chargers.
The Falcons are 5-0 all-time playing at Qualcomm Stadium, although it’s had other names. Under Mike Smith Atlanta is 5-0 on the West Coast, leading to high expectations entering this Week 3 matchup.
At 2-0 the Falcons sit atop the NFC South looking to extend that lead against an undefeated Chargers team that hasn’t faced a serious challenge in 2012. San Diego knocked off Oakland and Tennessee in the first two weeks of the season, two teams that look completely lost after just two games played.
Traveling across the country in a short week might concern some teams, but the Falcons know they will be well prepared for this road test.
“I think coach Smith does a great job of getting us into a good routine when we go to the west coast and keeping everybody focused,” said quarterback Matt Ryan. “For me, personally, I just try to prepare the same way as if we were on the East Coast. Get your work done Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, travel and do the same things you would Saturday, just do them in a hotel.”
Smith also acknowledges the success he’s endured on road trips out to this region.
“We’ve been very fortunate since we’ve been here to go out to the West Coast and come back with the outcome that we were shooting for,” said Smith. “I think a lot of it has to do with how we lay it out to the players what our schedule is going to be and how we’re going to approach it.”
With Smith in charge the Falcons have a specific way of going about their business on the West Coast, an approach he learned from his colleague, brother-in-law and former coach. “It’s something that I learned from Brian Billick. We had good results then and we’ve had good results thus far when we make that West Coast trip,” said Smith. It’s probably not a bad idea to take pointers from a former Super Bowl champion.
The Falcons will rest multiple players in practice this week, the majority simply due to the short week as a result of Atlanta’s appearance on Monday Night Football. After several injuries against Denver, Atlanta is making sure everyone is as close to 100 percent as possible.
“We have to get guys healthy. That was a very physical football game. We got a lot of guys that are banged up,” Smith said in regards to the after effects of Monday night’s matchup.
Ryan, though, doesn’t believe one less day of preparation is much of hindrance. “We’ve got the normal Tuesday off and we’re into our normal Wednesday routine now,” he said. “We had a really good turn out in here yesterday, a bunch of guys were in here working out that we needed to get done before we started our practices. We’ll have ourselves prepared.”
Sean Weatherspoon made it simple with his thoughts on the long travel affecting the Falcons play. “It wont at all, its just another road game,” he said Wednesday.
No one seems to be worried about making the long journey out to the West Coast. This biggest concerns right now are injuries, and after losing Will Svitek and Brent Grimes for the season early on in 2012, staying healthy looks like a top priority for the Falcons.