Falcons: Change is finally here, takeaways from Week 5

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For the fifth straight week, the Falcons have allowed over 300 yards passing. With the official announcement expected to be coming Monday morning, the Dan Quinn era in Atlanta is coming to an end after their Week 5 23-16 loss to Carolina. Never has an 0-5 team made the playoffs, so firing Quinn now is the best move. However, the better move would have been firing him a week ago.

The effort is no longer there

In Weeks 1-5 over the last three seasons, the Falcons are 2-13, and it’s at the point where the player no longer look like they believe they can win. While it is commendable how much they respect Quinn, sometimes, the losses just become too much to overcome mentally. 

The players knew how important a win against Carolina was. It puts them one game closer to the top of the division, it can change the confidence and morale of the team, and above all, it gives Quinn another week to fight for his job. However, after allowing big play after big play, it became evident how little the defense believed in themselves.

There’s really nothing else left to say about that side of the ball, as Atlanta has once again shown they are inept. Robby Anderson and DJ Moore had a field day, combining for over 200 yards through the air.

Dirk Koetter’s deficiencies were masked at the start of the season

To start the season, the Falcons had one of the NFL’s best offenses. Matt Ryan was second in passing to only Josh Allen, and Calvin Ridley was number one in receiving. However, the three games since then have painted a different picture.

So why were the Falcons so good in Weeks 1 and 2? They played the only two defenses that are worse than the Falcons. Dallas gives up an average of 430 yards per game, and Seattle allows an average of 476. Atlanta is planted firmly in the middle, surrendering 448 yards per game heading into Week 5.

While the Falcons did have offensive success in the first three quarters against Chicago, Koetter’s inability to kill the clock in the final ten minutes allowed the Bears to score three times in the final eight minutes.

The coaching discrepancy was also made apparent in Green Bay and at home against Carolina. Aaron Rodgers carved up the Falcons defense with players who should be on their practice squad, and while yes, Rodgers does that to most defenses, it was how the Packers offense moved down the field, as receivers were being left wide-open left and right for easy first downs and touchdowns. 

The defense plays a huge part in how the opposing team operates, but make no mistake, having an offensive head coach can pay dividends in the NFL in 2020 and beyond. Especially when you have a unit as talented as the Falcons.

It’s imperative to understand how handcuffed Matt Ryan is in this offense run by Koetter.

Ridley and Gurley had a good showing

The lone bright spots of the day were Todd Gurley and Calvin Ridley. Gurley finally eclipsed the 100-yard mark, a feat that hasn’t been achieved by a Falcons running back since late 2018 when Brian Hill ran for 115 yards against the Panthers. 

After being held to without a catch against Green Bay, Ridley once again had over 100 receiving yards with 136 on eight catches. While it is disappointing he was held without a score, he had no help whatsoever. The next best receiver was Russell gage, who only had 16 yards on two catches.

Evaluation mode has begun

With a coaching change expected, the evaluation for the structure of the roster has begun. No longer are the Falcons playing for a spot in the postseason, but they are playing for their jobs.

The Falcons have canyons as holes in certain areas. Going forward, there should be a whole lot of experimenting. There’s no reason this team can’t stretch the boundaries and figure out how to turn things around.

Yes, you have a right to be upset at the performance of Matt Ryan. However, it’s illogical to throw him under the bus when paired with a coaching staff that is this abysmal. Despite his age, he can still produce at the highest level and is crucial to the franchise’s structure and success. Again, with his age being a factor, it is of the utmost importance that Arthur Blank brings in an offensive-minded head coach.

 

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