Where To Now?

Jessie-Tuggle

The Beat Goes On. A Butt Kicking in Charlotte and More Questions Arise.

Special Guest Writer: Roddy E. Nixon, Jr. AKA Seminole Warrior

Prelude:

William-AndrewsThere is nothing to write about here. The Tee Pee is going to focus on providing insight into the truth going forward. Why waste time on what the entire world, including Stevie Wonder and the late Ray Charles, would have seen as the supreme ass kicking of the year. Let’s get to the heart of the matter. Carolina beat the hell out of Atlanta today and actually showed an element of compassion. Friends, it could have been a LOT WORSE!!!

The most fitting review of this game reveals TWO events that we Falcon fans have grown too damned accustomed to as Atlanta Falcons fans were on full display today.

First, our football team put on yet another pathetic and disgusting performance. For 28 minutes and 21 seconds, we scored not a single damn point, could only account for 240 yards of offense, surrendered five sacks, turned the ball over six times (four recovered by the Kittens), and heard of dissent between coaches and players.

Secondly, in a scene that Falcon fans have grown too damn familiar with, we saw our main man, good ole Arthur Blank, once again pacing the sideline with his arm folded. Once more, we were witness to that same damn sour puss facial expression that we saw so much last year as the clock ticked down towards the funeral services on the Mike Smith era in Atlanta.

A QUICK NOTE OF CONGRATULATIONS

Claude-HumphreyAgree with me if you choose but I am going to give credit to Jerry Richardson, Ron Rivera, and the Carolina franchise. They HAVE a REAL football team!! The “Kittens” are fundamentally solid in ALL facets of their game. They have been battle tested over the last three years; there was even a time when everyone was calling for the head of their head coach. But along the way, they found something. The “Kittens” stayed true to a philosophy and they executed it.

Carolina’s leadership did some soul searching over the last few years. The “Kittens” became masters of using their strengths and exploiting yours. They started winning football games with limited talent at key positions, a restructured offensive line, and other than Kevin Benjamin and the great Steve Smith, a rag tag group of wide receivers. They began to dominate on defense with patience, selective drafting, and STRONG veteran presence are paying HUGE dividends. Carolina worked hard and laid a solid foundation to maximize a window of opportunity that stands in front of them. Say what you will or may about some of their players (and I know some will) but they, the Kittens, as a team, are focused on one goal, one week at a time. And their dream, the ULTIMATE DREAM, is now within reach.

OFFENSIVE ANALYSIS:

Steve-BartkowskiToday, you saw a perfect demonstration of offensive balance. The Panthers and OC Mike Shula ran a grand total of sixty-one plays. 44% of those were pass plays and were supplemented with a fine mix of rushing attempts by several backs. The Falcons, meanwhile, as has been the case of late, displayed an inability to achieve an offensive balance. Many, including several in the Cage, would call it unwillingness to change by the offensive coordinator.

Today, of the sixty-two plays the Atlanta offense would run, a whopping 75% of the offense went the way of the pass. The Falcons managed what would be seen as a pedestrian 3.8 yards per pass play BUT given what we faced defensively, I’m not at all surprised. With five sacks surrendered, countless pressures, and four of six turnovers lost to the Panthers, it is no wonder that anemic was today’s word of choice in describing Atlanta’s offense.

The Atlanta rushing game was able to sustain an average of 3.5 yards per carry. Falcon running backs only saw 16 carries though. Meanwhile, the Panthers, averaging a full yard more per carry, stayed true to their approach, finishing the game with 32 carries in their rushing attack.

Gerald-RiggsOf note to me, however, is despite the short term imbalance, the Falcons are actually achieving over the course of the season, a noticeable improvement in its rushing attack. At this point last season, Atlanta was anchored in the bottom quarter of the league. This year, thus far, we are near the middle of the pack. And all of this is being achieved with a team that is still learning the ropes of a new scheme and OC while seeking to sustain an offensive line that is at best, Division II quality college football.

Let me repeat the truth of the moment. Even with today’s fiasco, Kyle Shanahan has this offense on course to be just as effective in all major offensive categories as last year’s unit was with one marked exception; SIGNIFICANT improvement in the rushing attack. And as I have stated, an effective West Coast Offense can’t function without depth and efficiency in the rushing attack.

DEFENSIVE ANALYSIS:

Tommy-NobisToday, you saw how the perfect mix of free agency and drafting can lead to something special. The Carolina defense is a beast. Well constructed through the draft and selective free agency, the core of the defensive unit is home grown. Just take a brief look at the composition of the roster on that side of the ball. Take a look at the investments on that side of the ball. It’s easy to see why they are what they are; solid investing equals quality return.

Atlanta….We have seen the “changes”, “infusions”, “process corrections”, etc. And it all comes back to the same old same; a consistent, misguided, uneventful run in which we play soft and are often prone to mistakes that leave you wondering what the hell? Today, we watched our DBs be burned by a so-called WR that has absolutely nothing but speed as a talent. And Robert Alford leaves me personally longing for the likes of Brent Grimes or hell, Chris Houston.

The Falcons front seven continues to struggle with assignments as well as the ability to sustain pressure. And now there is word that coaches and players are getting physical on the sidelines.

COACHING ANALYSIS:

Jeff Van NoteSimply, I will stay with what I have stated from the beginning. I called Dan Quinn the second coming of Jim Mora Jr. when he was hired. And I still stand by that choice of comparison..

Where are the adjustments? What is the fundamental philosophy of this defense? How does DQ define pressure? If the talent is not in place to play this zone scheme, is he capable of employing some other defensive approach? And his DC, Richard Smith….where in the hell is this guy?

How much skill does DQ really have? Like Bobby Petrino several years ago, is he (DQ) in over his head as an NFL head coach?

GAME INTANGIBLES:

Do the Atlanta Falcons have any? I mean this team squanders what is a pretty good home field advantage and looks lost too often on the road.

FINAL THOUGHTS AND PREDICTION:

Deion-SandersThe Falcons’ troubles are deepening with each week, friends. This season is on course to be no different than last year with one exception; a noted improvement in our rushing attack.

So the only questions now are who will be the next scapegoats? Kyle Shanahan? Bryan Cox? Matt LeFluer?

How long will it before social media and the rumor mill give us a true indication of the state of the locker room?

Is DQ true head coach potential OR is he yet another Chief, Football Administration (CFA)?

Will this team win another game this season?

To what degree will Arthur Blank panic this offseason? And does he FINALLY have the guts to clean out the front office?

Mike Kenn

 

Advertisements

330 thoughts on “Where To Now?

  1. Flo-Ri-Duh

    According to ESPN, if Falcons finish below .500 for the season the will be first in the NFL at something- the 1st team in NFL history to start 5-0 and end up below .500! Now we have a goal to strive for.

    Reply
  2. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Todd McShay has the Falcons picking Myles Jack (OLB) in Rd #1. Should they take a chance on a great LB recovering from ACL surgery or should they pass? Todd Gurley’s recovery gives us reason to believe Jack can do it too but with the history of past Falcon daft picks with ACL’s do we take that chance? If Myles Jack was injury free he would be a likely top 10 pick. My answer- I pass on him in Rd #1.

    Reply
  3. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Silver Lining: Justin Hardy (WR) is starting to look like he’s worth a #4 pick and could be the reason the Falcons let Hankerson go after he passed his physical last week. This kid’s tough, he’s got great hands and he’s getting there.

    Reply
    1. Grits Blitz

      Flo – Interesting concept per Hankerson – recruited, signed, starter, targeted/forced throws many times, too many drops in coverage, repeated injury history, waived…all in one season! Starter to cut in less than one season. Dennis Green… “he was who we hoped he wouldn’t be”?

      Reply
  4. Flo-Ri-Duh

    William Moore (SS) placed on IR for the remainder of the season. This could be his farewell. If he wants to continue playing (when not on IR) maybe they can trade him for a 7th Rd pick if someone is willing to assume WM’s big contract. At least that would create some cap space and eliminate the substantial dead money created in 2016 if they release him.

    Reply
  5. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Dan Quinn had a private conversation with Robert Alford after the game. It was about giving 100% effort all the time according to ESPN. Quinn accused Alford of not giving 100% . Not good.

    Reply
  6. Flo-Ri-Duh

    I only see ONE OL 1st team talent on the Falcons. That would be Jake Matthews. Levitre plays good at times but is inconsistent – giving up a sack the Panthers Sunday. After starting strong Levitre is just so-so. Same for Ryan Schraeder (OT). It’s obvious that Person (C) and Chester (G) aren’t starting material. Expect this cannot all be fixed in one season so Levitre & Schraeder likely to remain for 2016 with Person and Chester replaced in the draft or FA market. Schraeder is a RFA (restricted free agent) in 2016. Levitre has a rather large long term contract. Another option:could Levitre and/or Schraeder be on the trading block soon?

    Reply
  7. The Falcons Cage

    Wanted to post this for JB, or anybody who might be concerned the Cage is slowing down. As you can see, views are way up from last year. Also evident is how passionate Cagers are about the draft.

    Reply
    1. Seminole Warrior

      OUTSTANDING!!

      Congratulations to my little brother D3 for the vision and to ALL that have made the Cage what it is!! Wow!!

      Reply
  8. dawsondevitt Post author

    RE: Draft………..I’m a total convert on the “Trenches First and Always” Bandwagon……………. I fought my buddies like Coop and falcon21 forever, but I’m officially an OL / DL zealot. We need to trade down as much as possible to accumulate picks. Get what you will in Free Agency (and make no mistake about it that we’ll have to spend big in free agency >> both from a PR / fan confidence perspective, but our drafts have been so abysmal that we have no choice), but the draft should be no other than OL (C, G) and DL (DT, DE). Our last draft went >> LB (yes, Beasley is an OLB), CB, RB, WR.

    Not only that, we’ll also need to spend for both trenches in free agency. I know free agency isn’t great, but we have no choice at the point in time.

    Reply
    1. Grits Blitz

      Flo – Absolutely not. A.B. was more likely OFFENDED by even being asked the question about his $3 mill. adopted “boy”.
      Probably thought it was a ridiculous question not meriting a reply!

      Reply
  9. JB Falcon

    The following facts are from an article written in Jan 2015, prior to Shan’s arrival. You won’t believe who wrote it!
    “Shanahan’s units have consistently struggled in the red zone. In six of his seven years as a coordinator, Shanahan’s unit have finished in the lower half of the league in red-zone percentage with rankings of 26th, 12th, 19th, 29th, tied 22nd, tied 20th and 24th.
    His offense’s scoring rankings are equally unimpressive: 17th, 10th, 25th, 26th, 4th, 23rd, 27th.”
    To read the whole thinkg: http://www.ajc.com/news/sports/football/shanahan-will-come-to-falcons-with-baggage/njrRZ/

    Reply
    1. SG

      No matter what happens the rest of the season, the one change from the previous regime we can be thankful for, regardless of league experience or team longevity, everyone truly gets a shot.

      I think that bodes well for the future.

      Reply
  10. Arno

    Anatomy of a Catastrophe

    In the six game losing streak, we lost the first three games by the total of 7 points.
    We lost the last three games by the total of 52 points.

    This isn’t an arrow pointing down– it’s an avalanche. I look back a Quinn’s time at Seattle under Carroll – even when they were in building mode – and see he experienced nothing remotely bad as this. If he’s going to get it fixed, it will be new territory for him.

    Deep in Battered Fan Syndrome that I am, I’m looking for a big W in JAX.

    ^^^ Our new OC brought up from the practice squad. Still ironing out his ball snapping skills.

    Reply
    1. Seminole Warrior

      Arno, my post will be late to you tomorrow night due to my returning from J-ville. But I should have it to you sometime tomorrow night.

      Reply
  11. Dewey

    “What if” time…….

    What if the Falcons had drafted Gurley in the first round last year? How different would our team look now?
    If we’d drafted Gurley 1st round, we would almost assuredly have had to go pass rusher 2nd round, which means we probably wouldn’t have CB Jalen Collins.
    We wouldn’t have drafted Coleman in the 3rd, so maybe OL, instead of waiting til the 7th round.

    Of course, us picking Gurley would have spun the entire draft off in a different direction, so who know who might have been available.

    If we had drafted Gurley, he probably would have re-injured his knee in his first game back anyway.

    Reply
    1. Seminole Warrior

      Dewey, my brother. It would not have changed a darn thing other than put a few more UGA fans in the Dome and sell a few more jerseys.

      Reply
  12. Dewey

    Don’t know how many of you listen to 92.9, but on the way home this afternoon, they had a great interview with Rich McKay.

    One high point was he was asked what his draft philosophy was when he was a GM.
    Said they went with best player available at a position of need (which we have all heard a thousand times), but then he added, “without dropping down a level”. That’s the part that got my attention. I’ve never heard that before. He said they would have players in levels, elite, great, good, etc. If it was time to pick, you don’t drop down a level for a player just because there was a position of greater need. I guess this is what we have always referred to as reaching.

    The other topic I really liked was when he was with Tampa and they got Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks in the first round.
    First of all, they went into the draft with the 8th pick. Their plan was to trade down. This was their plan weeks before the draft. Why? They really wanted Derrick Brooks, knew #8 was too high to take him. They wanted extra picks to trade back up into the 1st round to get him. THEY KNEW THIS WEEKS LEADING UP TO THE DRAFT.
    Second, they liked Warren Sapp but Brooks was their main target. Could have safely secured Sapp at #8 since his stock was dropping because of the stories that broke about him days leading up to the draft. But Brooks was the target, so they stuck to their plan and traded back. The only team they were worried might take him was Minnesota at #11 (both teams ran exact same defense). Tampa stuck to their plan and traded back to #12, one pick “after” Minnesota. The Vikings passed on Sapp, Tampa got him, then traded back up into the first round to get the guy they really wanted, Brooks.
    Lastly, the reason Tampa knew the stories about Sapp were BS and why the were so high on Brooks? Sapp played at Miami, Brooks played at FSU, and Tampa always scouted all of the home state colleges extensively. WHAT A CONCEPT!!!!!!! You’re right there. Can drive to watch practice, game, chat, whatever, and whenever you liked.

    Listening to McKay talk about how they worked that draft made me realize how truly, desperately we need a good……no, great, high quality GM.

    I couldn’t ever imagine Dimwitt going into a draft with any other plan except TRADE UP! GET THE GUY I WANT!! MAKE THE KING SMILE!!!!

    What a waste of 8 years……..

    Reply
    1. Seminole Warrior

      Dewey

      Rich was that man until AB decided that he wanted the world’s largest luxury car dealership as a legacy. Then he shifted Rich to the role of getting the process secured; a process that Rich did an incredible job with in Tampa while with the Bucs. Raymond James Stadium is one of my favorite destinations!!!

      And now I hear/read that Quinn is advocating that TD be retained in Atlanta?

      http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/12/17/dan-quinn-wants-to-see-thomas-dimitroff-return/

      Oh well, the Tee Pee will be in Jacksonville tomorrow live to see the game. Want to see the differences up close and in person between what Gus and David have done as opposed to Dan and Thomas.

      Reply
      1. Arno

        Quinn’s quote: “Thomas is a really big part of why I wanted to be here. The respect I have for him, and the partnership that I wanted to help create from the head coach to a general manager. We were in sync in every facet from the time we got here to going through every process together.”

        My take. Notice he talked about partnership and process, not the value of Dimitroff’s actual contributions. All he was really saying was that Dimitroff cooperated with the desired process. When Dimitroff is replaced, Quinn better have a GM who’s not only cooperative, but actually has something of value to contribute!

        And I’ve been wondering… somebody brought this up– don’t remember if it was Coop or SW. Was Smitty scapegoated for Dimitroff’s failures? In any case, Quinn is reaping Dimitroff’s failures. I’m interested to see how Quinn digs out of this. Has he coached on teams with similar disasters, gaining a little experience along the way?

        Both Smitty and Quinn had nine years NFL coaching experience before their HC job in ATL (Quinn had an additional two years with the Gators in the mix).

        Smitty took the fall in ATL, yet he never lost more than two in a row until 2013. In that year and then in 2014, his Falcons dropped five in a row. Given a decent GM, could he have pulled us out of the ditch? In his nine years NFL experience, and as a DC for the Jags, the worst Smitty saw was a four game skid in 2003.

        Quinn saw a couple of bad streaks when he was d-line coach. In SF 2004, they lost seven in a row, and then with NYJ 2007, they dropped six in a row.

        Whether Smitty was scapegoated or not, is moot. All we have now is crunch time for Quinn. It will be very interesting to see how he handles it. Arthur hired Quinn, but Arthur also set Quinn back by keeping Dimitroff.

        Reply
  13. Dewey

    So, draft best player available at a position of need……that shouldn’t be too difficult……no particular order…..WR, TE, G, C, OT, DT, DE, OLB, ILB, SS, FS, CB……piece of cake, how could we miss?

    Reply
    1. ajarnbangkapi

      Massively oftopic, sorry folks
      Mike – I grew up with weapons in the Ga countryside, but the country is different now. Schools are different.

      Personal story (please tune out if too offtopic sorry) – I have been down lately because of an incident with a student, and a possible violence situation coming up in the second week in Jan.

      I teach an adult certification course, and it is usually great. They learn how to be effective teachers, get a high level certification and guaranteed jobs around the world. In Nov I had one student (younger, still studying at Emory presumably) that refused to even try, was disruptive to the others, hostile, even aggressive – spent maybe half of the classtime outside the room doing God knows what, lots of other issues. Working with my chain of command, our head office (located out of state, Canada) tried to contact him multiple times by phone and email to remove him from the course and give him a partial refund – which he didn’t respond to.

      He showed up during graded teaching practicums the weekend before Thanksgiving, 30 or so minutes into class and started banging loudly on the closed door. I went to see what the ruckus was, he tried to push me aside and get in. I told him we were doing practicums and can’t be disturbed, he had been removed from the class, and to call customer service. He got aggressive, asked me if I wanted to fight him (over 40 year difference and can’t walk well anymore, but it WAS a temptation), swung at me, stole a pointer/pen from my pocket as I ducked, tried to force his way in (I blocked the door), kept him away from the other students who went to the far end of the room. It was Sat, so no one else in the bldg. I was able to get the door closed and locked using my weight, and called security. He started trying to kick the door in and screaming threats at me, but it held. He threw food at the door to block the glass to see outside, other stuff (presumably books) and continued to try to kick it in until Security came, and immediately called the police. They got him out eventually, but my students were afraid to go to the bathroom until I told them the police were there.

      Afterwards, he had torn out pages of his training manuals from his car (didn’t bother to bring them into class) and left them strewed on the floor (leaving his books with security so we would refund him), and the other students shared with me that several suspected he was on drugs. Lots more to the story, but you get the idea.

      The life of a teacher in the states these days (many more horror stories from my students that have taught in public schools in the past and wanted out, but you get the idea). I work at two schools, probably make less overall than some folks on welfare despite a PhD and 2 Masters degrees.

      Remember that security guard that was filmed trying to get that kid out of class that had bunkered herself in? HE was the one that lost his job, that student and their parents are just role models for others now.

      I se that kid that was shot protecting his friends, and it just seems — normal now.

      We have a public info session Jan 13, and the next seminar starts the 16th, no one knows if he will return or not. Next on CNN??

      Reply
      1. Grits Blitz

        Ajarn – And, our “leadership” doesn’t even want to allow our own military to allow “carry” to defend themselves on military posts/installations, much less civilian locations like school campuses? Insanity in key and rhyme? Of course!
        ALWAYS supported hiring security in ALL schools…at least 2 per school (one outside;one outside). If only rhetoric met action per politicians!
        (Even today, majority of voters don’t support/demand/see it. as a problem. Wonder why they insist on such security at courthouses now? Ain’t the judicial/legal system grand?)

        Reply
      2. Arno

        Amazing story, AJ. What your other students will appreciate, is not the insanity of the perpetrator, but your steadfastness.

        Reply
      3. Wings

        AB, you have done everything the best way possible with the student. And, I hope you feel much better about the situation telling your friends here about it. Just, be safe and more aware of things around you for awhile.

        Reply
      4. Dewey

        AB,

        I’m glad it seems physically you’re ok. Mentally, I’m sure it will be sometime before you can move past this horrible episode. I’m confident when I say no apologies necessary from all here in the cage. I’m really at a loss for what to say in this situation, as I’m not even going to pretend to understand what you went through. When most of us were young, standing up to bullies didn’t carry the possible repercussions it does today. Teachers are meant to inspire, and although I’m sure it wasn’t in your lesson plan, I doubt you could have inspired your students anymore than you did that day. I hope all is well and getting better. The Cage is more than a Falcons forum, it’s a refuge from the everyday trials that life continues to throw at us, so please don’t hold back again. We are all here for you.

        Reply
  14. Chop Buster

    This article doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in this coaching staff. I know there are player issues, but their (coaches) inability to make adjustments in-game and from game-to-game feels like we’re going back to June Jones head coaching days.

    http://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2015/12/18/10120070/atlanta-falcons-losing-streak-what-happened-dan-quinn-matt-ryan-kyle-shanahan

    The Falcons are too stubborn to succeed
    By Jeanna Thomas  @jeannathomas on Dec 18, 2015, 10:52a

    Following the Atlanta Falcons’ loss to Tampa Bay in Week 13, Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said Atlanta’s defense was “jogging” when they allowed Jameis Winston to convert a third-and-19 attempt on the ground.

    Several Falcons defenders had opportunities to stop Winston. Nobody does, and the effort they put into running down Winston is questionable.

    One week later, after Atlanta was called out by an opponent for a lack of effort, the Falcons had their absolute worst game of the season, a 38-0 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

    The Falcons continue to regress from week to week, and there’s not a simple answer as to why.

    * * *

    The end of the 2014 season brought change to the Atlanta Falcons. The team parted ways with head coach Mike Smith and hired Dan Quinn, the dynamic defensive coordinator who orchestrated the vaunted Seattle Seahawks defense. As the Falcons jumped out to a 5-0 start to the 2015 season, it seemed clear that Quinn’s Falcons were on a completely different trajectory than the team that had gone 10-22 over the previous two seasons.

    National media took note of Atlanta’s success, penciling offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan in as the hottest candidate for whatever head coaching jobs end up being vacated on Black Monday. Atlanta’s offensive line, cobbled together just before the season began, looked dominant in those early games, not only adequately protecting Matt Ryan, but also paving the way for Devonta Freeman to establish himself as one of the top running backs in football.

    Atlanta’s defense, which had been statistically below average to poor in 2013 and 2014, was suddenly tough against the run and creating big turnovers to win games. Quinn’s influence was evident. The Falcons were back.

    A rude awakening

    As the team prepared for a Thursday night matchup against the New Orleans Saints, a division rival, their approach was the same as it had been through the first five wins of the season. Quinn emphasizes preparing for each opponent as if that week’s game is a championship game. Week 6 was no different for Atlanta before they took the field, but after the game kicked off, the Falcons didn’t look like the same team that had won five in a row to start the season. Atlanta looked unprepared in all three phases and made mistakes — a blocked punt and two fumbles — that they were unable to overcome. They lost to the Saints by a final score of 31-21.

    It seemed like Atlanta would have an opportunity to turn things around against a Tennessee Titans team that was 1-4 heading into the Week 7 matchup. Rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota was unable to play against the Falcons. Backup Zack Mettenberger got the nod to start in Mariota’s stead. Surely the Falcons would bounce back.

    Atlanta beat the Titans by a three-point margin and nearly fell prey to mistakes and miscues that were similar to what the Falcons experienced against the Saints. Ryan threw two interceptions, and the Falcons barely edged out the struggling Titans 10-7.

    It was a win that felt much more like a loss for Atlanta and the last victory to date.

    An epic collapse

    Things have gotten much worse since that last win.

    The Falcons somehow stayed competitive in a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home despite catastrophic turnovers. One Matt Ryan interception and fumbles from Ryan, Julio Jones and Mike Person didn’t keep the Falcons from forcing the Bucs to overtime, but the Falcons lost 23-20 on a Tampa Bay field goal. Blaine Gabbert had just been named the starter when the Falcons traveled to San Francisco to take on the 49ers in Week 9, but Gabbert looked like a seasoned pro against Atlanta. The Falcons offense struggled to get into the end zone, and the Niners won 17-16.

    The Falcons were keeping things close, but just not finishing games the way they had during the 5-0 start. The team’s bye, which came in Week 10, couldn’t have come at a better time. Coaches and players thought that some rest and the opportunity to get players fully healthy would help the team get back on track.

    But three more losses after the bye — to the Matt Hasselbeck-led Indianapolis Colts, the Minnesota Vikings and the Buccaneers — suggested that the Falcons had no idea how to get back on track.

    In Week 14, facing the undefeated Carolina Panthers on the road and knowing that a loss would all but destroy any postseason aspirations, the Falcons looked completely lost. The defense gave up 349 offensive yards to the Panthers before the half. The Panthers defense had five sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. Atlanta’s defense gave up explosive play after explosive play to the Panthers.

    It wasn’t just that the team wasn’t playing well. The Falcons looked like they were utterly incapable of being competitive against Carolina. Atlanta barely resembled the team that started the season 5-0.

    What went wrong?

    One of the more obvious factors is that Atlanta’s offense is making too many mistakes to overcome. Since Atlanta’s bye week, Ryan has thrown seven interceptions, compared to just five touchdowns over that interval. Overall, the team has a minus-6 turnover differential, which puts the Falcons tied for 25th in the league.

    A new scheme and the growing pains associated with that transition may be a factor. A lack of explosive offensive talent outside of Jones and Freeman is certainly part of the issue. Effectively abandoning the run, which was a significant part of the team’s early success, is another factor.

    Defensively, Atlanta has no pass rush, despite spending their first round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft on rookie edge rusher Vic Beasley. They’re last in the league with just 15 sacks on the season. Atlanta’s run defense, which had been a strength, has fallen apart, and they’ve allowed an average of 166.3 yards per game on the ground over the past three games. They’re not playing disciplined football.

    The biggest issue for the Falcons is that the coaching staff and the players don’t seem to know how to make the necessary corrections, and the same mistakes and weaknesses plague the team with no visible improvement. Quinn used the word “unacceptable” to describe Atlanta’s play against the Panthers, and the Falcons’ recent performances raise the question of whether this coaching staff has lost the team.

    In Week 14 against the Panthers, cornerback Robert Alford appeared to quit on a play that resulted in a 74-yard touchdown by Ted Ginn, Jr. Alford was flagged for illegal contact on the play, and Quinn said Monday that Alford thought Ginn had stepped out of bounds. Still, Alford’s effort on the play was enough of a concern that Quinn did speak to him about it.

    “Yeah, he certainly did,” Quinn said when asked Monday if Alford had quit on the play. “We are all about finishing, so that one was difficult for him and for us.”

    Defensive line coach Bryan Cox and defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman had an altercation on the sideline during the loss to Carolina last week. The lack of poise was cited by Quinn as one of the reasons for the loss to the Panthers. Quinn said that he was handling the situation between Cox and Hageman in-house.

    “They are both top notch guys,” Quinn said. “Cox was looking out for him when Ra’Shede was emotional during that time on a play. At no point is that going to be part of our football. I talked to both of them about it.”

    A physical altercation between a player and a coach doesn’t inspire confidence that the players and the coaching staff are of one accord.

    Is there hope for the Falcons?

    The coaching staff has not yet figured out how to correct the issues that have derailed Atlanta’s season after such a strong start. Quinn and his staff have tried to adjust, but if anything, things are getting worse. Quinn said Monday that while he wouldn’t deviate from the style and attitude he wants the Falcons to play with, that the coaching staff would look for different ways to feature players and make corrections that need to be made.

    “When there’s a lack of production in one area, the point of emphasis gets stronger, so for us, there’s going to be some more points of emphasis to certain parts,” Quinn said.

    Those points of emphasis haven’t made a difference over the past few weeks. Barring a miracle, it’s difficult to imagine the Falcons making a big turnaround in the last three games of the season.

    Assuming the Falcons retain Shanahan, one more full offseason for Ryan to settle into Shanahan’s scheme should be beneficial. Ryan looks downright uncomfortable at times, and he isn’t the best physical fit for the type of offense that Shanahan prefers, but more time to adjust to the change and improve his mechanics and footwork would help.

    It’s possible that Quinn needs one more offseason with a solid draft and a strong effort in free agency to stock the roster with more talent that better fits the schemes Atlanta wants to run on both sides of the ball. Looking at the talent Atlanta has on both sides of the ball as well as draft outcomes, it’s not difficult to imagine the team parting ways with general manager Thomas Dimitroff after the season.

    Regardless of what happens in the front office, adding more receiving options and upgrading the interior line should be offensive priorities. Defensively, the Falcons have a lot of needs. They have to have some players who can disrupt opposing quarterbacks, and they need linebackers who can play effectively and stay sufficiently healthy.

    Quinn isn’t giving up on the season. When asked Wednesday how he’s adapting his approach as a rookie head coach to handle this adversity, Quinn said that his focus and his message to the team remains the same.

    “Everything counts in terms of the way you prepare, the way you play, the way you battle,” Quinn said. “So that part of it, it’s never going to change. That’s the league we live in. That’s the competition that we thrive under.”

    Quinn said there have been times he has been pleased with Atlanta’s effort, and there have been times that it leaves something to be desired.

    “We’ve had it at times, and we’ve not had it at times, and that’s the challenge,” Quinn said. “Can you be so strong mentally that it’s there for you exactly when you need it, which is all the critical situations that come up in ballgames.”

    Since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, no team has started the season 5-0 and ended with a losing record. The Falcons are poised to make history in an unfortunate way, and for the third season in a row, Falcons fans have to invest their hope in next season.

    Reply
  15. ajarnbangkapi

    Thanks guys, and sorry for high jacking the page (a reflection on the state of the falcons perhaps).
    gritz – There ARE security guards many places (Oglethorpe Uni where I was has security) but they are unable to do a lot if it gets serious/violent, they have to call the police. I’ve got stories, but not the place.
    Problem in the states, in my opinion, is the lack of respect – the concept that teachers are the problem (and to be fair in some cases it is, subject matter experts that found a way to get paid that can’t teach, or administrators/bureaucrats that get paid for shuffling papers). One word – Responsibility. Who is responsible for the student learning?

    Reply

Join The Falcons Cage Discussion......

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s