The Falcons are in a spot of bother. Despite getting their season back up and running against the Eagles, they let a crucial game slide in Indianapolis. That trend is hardly a surprise; since losing the Super Bowl to the Patriots, the Falcons are 19-18, effectively .500. That’s not a recipe for the playoff contender the Falcons act like.
Inconsistency key to Falcons problems
As a team the Falcons have struggled to string everything together. They’ve had good offensive performances in weeks two and three, and good defensive performances, in week two. That inconsistency points to an issue at the top, between coordinators and Head Coach. If a team or individual players are performing well but inconsistently it points to the coaching, leadership and motivation they are receiving. That what allows them to dip in form regularly.
What puts even more pressure on Dan Quinn is the defensive struggles. Quinn is now Defensive Coordinator as well as Head Coach and so has no excuses. Moreover, he was hired from Seattle as one of the creators of the Legion of Boom. The Falcons are predictable to run against and lead the league with 27% of wide receiver targets being wide open. That’s not a sign of the swarming, aggressive, dominant defence Quinn is known for.
Even in success, defence has struggled
If it weren’t for the Falcons’ Super Bowl run though, one has to question if Quinn would be going the way of his predecessor as Seahawks DC: Gus Bradley.
The defence even struggled on the way to the Super Bowl, languishing in the bottom quarter and allowing 370 yards a game. They haven’t developed from there. They Falcons are in the top quarter so far this season in terms of yards allowed, but they are mired in the bottom half in terms of points allowed (25/game).
Yes Atlanta has injuries, most notably to Keanu Neal and JJ Wilcox, but so does everyone and they can’t keep blaming them. While many teams preach next man up, the Falcons struggle with the loss of defensive players. Now, with the Titans coming to town, and the Falcons favoured to win, Atlanta has enough talent to win the game, even without Neal.
Is it Quinn’s last chance?
The Falcons showed how aggressive they are as a front office with their moves in the draft. As a team, they focused heavily on the offensive line as if it was the silver bullet. For a team in win-now mode, with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones in their prime, you imagine that GM Thomas Dimitroff won’t let Dan Quinn hold them back. Or for that matter, Owner Arthur Blank won’t have much patience with Dimitroff either.
The other factor is long term injuries to Cam Newton and Drew Brees. If Quinn can’t win the division with two injury hampered teams and the rebuilding Bucs, is he the man for the job? Getting to the Super Bowl allows you more time and perhaps Quinn would have another season or two. Competing in a weak division may just shorten that timeline.
Image: John Bazemore / AP Photo