Things are not looking up. Since coming up a play or two short of the Super Bowl only two-and-one-half long seasons ago, the Atlanta Falcons have alternated between dominance and crippling incompetency. Early this season the team looked guaranteed to make a serious playoff push, but after losing four of their last five games, look destined for another high draft pick.
Lets be entirely honest. This team is not fun to watch. They are losing to bad football teams, and they are losing in the worst ways. Sloppy football. Bad game plans. A stubborn lack of adjustments. Too many fouls. Turnovers. All this bad football is split between the Falcons putting together some truly impressive drives. The talent is there. Maybe not enough talent to win the Super Bowl, but more than enough to beat the likes of Blaine Gabbert and Matt Hasselbeck. Sundays have turned into consistent frustration and disappointment.
It is safe to expect a new head coach to have their stumbles and learning experiences. But after six or seven weeks, and a bye week, the changes are minimal. The same problems have remained. If I have become particularly worried about an issue with this team, it is a coaching staff's refusal to make necessary adjustments and their stubborn adherence to a mediocre, unsuccessful game plan. This season feels like a Mike Smith year all over again.
Matt Ryan has taken a sizable step back, and may be playing some of the worst football of his career. Against the Colts, his QBR started at an unimpressive 72.2 in the first quarter, before shooting up to a 134.7, leveling off to 113.1 in the third quarter, and finally, finishing off at a dismal 7.3 QBR.
He has looked great, and he has followed that up with looking terrible. His pro career shows that he is better than this. How has he taken a step back with an improved defense and an elite run game? This offensive scheme seems to be limiting what Ryan does best. Instead of finding where our players excel, the staff seems more dedicated to fitting our personnel into their scheme. We have seen this before, and it has not worked. The coaches that are consistently successful adjust their plans to what they have available. The ones that have just one plan do not last very long.
The offense looks tailored to improving the run game, but has otherwise failed to fit Matt Ryan's strengths. The defense looks like it needs a few more pieces before they can be more effective. Changes will need to be made, because the Falcons are stuck with Ryan and most of this defensive personnel for at least the next few seasons.
If Atlanta is going to drop a game to Matt Hasselbeck, at home, after a bye week, they are not going to improve this season. Dan Quinn will be simply be outmatched against a real playoff team if he cannot attack some bad backup quarterbacks. The odds of a new, successful game plan being installed midweek, after they failed to put together appropriate changes during the bye, is very low.
Whatever changes Atlanta needs to become successful, either better personnel or better coaching, is just not going to happen this year. The team is slowly getting worse, so prepare yourself for another six weeks of terrible football.