No lead is safe for the Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons are now 0-3 on the season, and Dan Quinn’s seat is hotter than ever after losing to Chicago 30-26. The Falcons entered the fourth quarter with yet another double-digit lead that was once again squandered embarrassingly.
The Bears proceeded to score 20 points in the fourth quarter, as the Falcons offense sputtered. Over the past two weeks, Atlanta has been outscored 36-10 in the fourth quarter, and those 10 points scored last week were the only second-half points put up the Falcons.
I don’t know what else Arthur Blank has to see to realize that this team needs a change in direction, and if he keeps Quinn around, he may want to reconsider allowing fans in the stadium in a couple of weeks.
Over the last 20 seasons, no team has blown multiple 15-point fourth quarters leads in a single season.
The Falcons just did it in back-to-back weeks.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 27, 2020
Here are more takeaways from Week 3.
The Falcons offense disappeared
Atlanta was without star receiver Julio Jones due to a hamstring injury. To add to it, Russell Gage was forced to leave the game early because of a possible concussion. This left Matt Ryan with a depleted receiving core consisting of Calvin Ridley, Olamide Zaccheaus, Christian Blake, and Brandon Powell.
Gage’s loss took away the Falcons’ ability to stretch the field and forced Dirk Koetter to rely on short, underneath routes. Take away Julio Jones, and Atlanta’s offense is still effective. However, they could not overcome losing two of their top three receivers. While Ridley was impressive early on, he disappeared as the game progressed, which can also be attributed to the pass rush forcing the ball underneath.
Ridley ended the day with five catches for 110 yards and only managed 57 yards after the game’s first play.
The Falcons offensive line also took a step back. This unit looked much better after two weeks than last season, giving Matt Ryan adequate protection consistently. That wasn’t the case against the Bears. Throughout much of the second quarter and beyond, Chicago was able to apply pressure, forcing errant throws by Matt Ryan, who didn’t have a particularly great day.
Outside of the first 63-yard bomb to Ridley, the Falcons’ signal-caller didn’t manage much else and only had 175 yards the rest of the way while adding his second interception of the season. Ryan even missed an open Ridley late in the fourth quarter, under throwing him by 10 yards. A catch and run probably would’ve been enough to ice the game. Ryan then followed up the next possession by missing an open Olamide Zacchaeus, who would’ve walked into the endzone. At least that time, Chicago’s pass rush was a factor. All around, a very underwhelming offensive showcase by the Falcons.
Todd Gurley says of the offense "We've got to be able to step up" and not put the defense in a tough spot. Falcons had just three first downs in the fourth quarter.
— William McFadden (@willmcfadden) September 27, 2020
On the bright side, the run game, as a unit, saw improvements.
Falcons run defense still going strong; pass defense, not so much
If there is one bright spot on this Atlanta Falcons defense, it’s stopping the run. The Bears were held to only 88 yards as a unit, excluding the 45 yards that came when Trubisky broke loose while scrambling. The possible addition of Takk McKinley and Foye Oluokun in Week 4 against Green Bay will be crucial in containing Aaron Jones.
The Bears moved the ball with ease against the Falcons defense, but what else is new. Whether matched up against Isaiah Oliver or Darqueze Dennard, Allen Robinson found holes for Trubisky. While the Falcons may have gotten away with the wide-open 4th and goal drop by Anthony Miller, they sure paid the price when Allen Robinson broke free from two soft tackles by Atlanta’s corners. Between Foles and Trubisky, the Falcons allowed for another 300+ yard passing game. The Bears also scored four times through the air.
Falcons force an interception
Through the first two weeks, Atlanta did not have a single interception. That all changed when Blidi Wreh-Wilson forced Trubisky to turn the ball over on their first possession after halftime. Wreh-Wilson was thrust into the game because rookie corner AJ Terrell tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the first player this season to miss a game due to the virus. That was Trubisky’s last bit of action, and the Bears brought on Nick Foles to rescue them.
The Falcons caused Nick Foles to throw an interception on his first possession. It came with controversy as Allen Robinson and Darqueze Dennard both had their hands on the ball as they fell into the endzone, but what was originally called a touchdown on the field was then overturned.
However, neither turnover changed the game’s dynamic as the Falcons offense only managed to get three points.
Atlanta missed a third interception when a Foles’ pass went through the hands of Isaiah Oliver and into the hands of Jimmy Graham. Had Deion Jones not made contact while Oliver was in the air, it is possible he could’ve come down with the ball.
Photo: David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire