With week one under their belt, the Falcons welcome Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos to town. The big story from week one versus Kansas City was clearly the 40 points put up by the Falcons offense, led by Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. The Falcons went for 292 yards through the air—108 of them with Jones on the receiving end—and an additional 84 yards on the ground. Equally impressive was the Falcons defense, which held Kansas City to just 24 points. A key component of the defense’s success?…Sixth year cornerback Brent Grimes. Over the past five seasons with the Falcons, the Pro Bowler totaled 242 tackles, 13 interceptions, and 56 passes defended. However, it was announced Monday by head coach Mike Smith that Grimes, who had 6 tackles in Sunday’s game, suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury. Needless to say, with Peyton coming to town, this is not the week to lose the “cornerstone of the cornerback position,” as Coach Smith put it.
After one week, the Falcons defense ranks second in the NFL, but with the loss of Grimes, this line is in for a shakeup. Asante Samuel will fill Grimes’ spot on the left side opposite Dunta Robinson. The third CB position is up for grabs, and fighting for the spot will be Chris Owens and Dominique Franks. Additionally, the Falcons signed former Colts cornerback Terrance Johnson. Perhaps Peyton’s former teammate will be just the trick to stopping the Broncos offense. Not only could Johnson’s previous experience contribute to a second straight win for the Falcons, coach Smith and Asante Samuels are no stranger to the Broncos quarterback either. As a New England Patriot, Samuels faced Manning 11 times while he was with the Colts—breaking up 11 passes vs. Manning and intercepting three (including one for a touchdown return during the 2006 playoffs). As defensive coordinator in Jacksonville form 2003-2007, Coach Mike Smith squared off against Peyton 10 times, holding him and the Colts offense to under 30 points each time. While all eyes seem to be on the Falcons thriving offense, the true test in week two will be on defense. Can Grimes’ cleats be filled? Who will step up and snag that third cornerback position? Will Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense roll, or will this reconstructed defensive line send them packing? Either way, I can assure you it’s going to be an exciting game as these two teams battle it out on Monday Night Football!