John Woz, Jr. | October 4th, 2019
September football is a period when teams shake off the rust and bond as a team. That’s the theory, but several teams are looking like strong candidates for the No.1 overall draft pick in 2020. The Atlanta Falcons have had a terrible start to the season, and at 1-3, they sit rooted in the basement of the NFC South. Sunday’s game is a coin toss for Atlanta, against the Houston Texans (2-2).
Week 6 gives the Falcons a good chance of victory when they visit Arizona to play the Cardinals, a team with another lousy record. Dan Quinn is sitting in a hot seat, so is it time for the Falcons to change their head coach?
The season is still early, and the Falcons have every chance of recovering to earn the right to play in the postseason. Is that a likely scenario? Probably not based on the first four weeks of the season. Despite having the second-ranked pass offense in the league, the Falcons running game is all but absent, they also have issues stopping the run.
Quinn has a winning record
The Falcons appointed Quinn in 2015, and he led the team to Super Bowl 51. The game will be synonymous with the Falcons blowing a 25 point lead to the New England Patriots. Quinn’s Atlanta record is 68-37, but the cracks are showing. The 49-year-old is also has the responsibility as the Defensive Coordinator.
Atlanta won’t be tanking for a top draft pick, however, they should be more competitive on the field. Matt Ryan is one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. Ryan has an elite receiver corps, which includes, Mohamed Sanu, Calvin Ridley, TE Austin Hooper, and the brilliant Julio Jones. The quartet has combined for over 1,000 yards on the season.
Falcons are unbalanced on offense
The Falcons’ inability to run the football is clear to see, the offense won’t win too many games with an average of 17.5 points per game. Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian can’t solely rely on Ryan’s ability to move the football through the air.
Running the football is vital to success, but stopping the run has been too easy for the opposition. Devonta Freeman has 47 carries for 157 yards, but Ryan has targeted him 21 times through the air for 133 yards, and Freeman has yet to find the end zone in 2019. The Falcons need to be more productive with the football, or it could be a long season.
Sarkisian needs to find the balance to disrupt the opponent’s defense without being predictable. Cap space is an issue for the Falcons. Melvin Gordon would have been a good fit for the Dirty Birds, but Spotrac.com estimates they have just under $4m, that’s not enough to secure the services of a top-10 running back.
Falcons defensive woes
Quinn has had little joy on the other side of the football. Five team sacks through four games is woeful. Atlanta’s defense hasn’t been able to rush the pass or turn the football over, and tackling has also been an issue. It’s a perfect storm for a unit unable to keep Ryan and his offense on the field.
Vic Beasley had a monster season in 2016. The former Clemson pass rusher had 15.5 sacks, and his ability to pressure the quarterback gave the defense confidence. Since then his numbers have dwindled to 11.5 total sacks since 2017. Beasley is better lining up in a scheme where he can apply pressure, rather than sitting on the edge, hoping for an opportunity to disrupt the offense.
The defense needs a rest during games, and that starts by making plays and keeping the offensive unit rolling. Quinn should look to hire a competent defensive coordinator, such an appointment would give the Falcons another leader on the sidelines.
Quinn needs his players to step up
Eight experts from the NFL community have selected the Texans to pick up the ‘W’ on Sunday. Quinn will need to see some juice from his players on Sunday. The Falcons are better than 1-3 on paper, but they need to improve with and without the football. Quinn is under pressure, but it’s down to the players to execute. Another loss on Sunday could see Quinn’s tenure as the head coach come to a premature end.
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