FLOWERY BRANCH – Back-to-back losses to Seattle and San Diego by narrow margins, due to late-game mistakes.
“Here we go again,” is the thought that races through the minds of Falcons fans as the course of the season begins to parallel that of 2015.
During the first season of Falcons’ head coach Dan Quinn’s tenure, the team started 6-1, and there were many that began to believe in the team’s possibilities. However, that early-season surge deemed to be a fluke as the team lost five of their final seven games, finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs for the third consecutive season
A year later, the team began the season by winning four of their first five, including a win against the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos in hostile territory. Since then however, things haven’t gone as desired and the Falcon faithful are bracing for yet another downfall. But Quinn believes that won’t occur this season.
“We talked a lot about that in the offseason and our team is so different from our 2015 to our 2016 team,” Quinn said. “We are equipped. We know the adversity that comes. We are a resilient group. I can’t emphasize enough how different the club is from last year to this year (with) our mindset and the way that we attack.”
Quinn makes a solid point as the Falcons have improved in different areas, including offensive line and play-calling improvements from offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Despite that, 2015 still brings back some bad memories, including debacles at home to Tampa Bay and New Orleans, and the 38-0 slaughtering taken by Carolina in Charlotte.
The last two losses for Atlanta have been similar, with two late-game interceptions and inexcusable penalties that cost Quinn’s team losses to Seattle and San Diego. While that indicates a potential collapse, Quinn sees things behind the scenes that he hadn’t seen in the season prior.
“I go to walk-through and see them getting together without any coaches there — the small things that maybe I hadn’t seen before that I see now,” Quinn said. “There’s a lot of things that happen behind the scenes as far player-to-player communication. Those are small examples that I get to see on a daily basis that I know the work is getting put in.”
A focal point of the Falcons’ offense, third-year running back Devonta Freeman, believes the same is true. However, he sees a need for the team to strive for greater in order to reap the rewards.
“We have to go out, execute and play ball,” Freeman said. “We can always get better, and get to that next level. We can do some special things around here if we believe in each other.”