Those who believed talent was the issue with the Atlanta Falcons, and perhaps that Dan Quinn would not be able to improve upon what Mike Smith had already done, you may strut. Your strutting has been earned.
Quinn calls this performance "totally unacceptable" and "extremely disappointing."— Jeanna (@jeannathomas) December 13, 2015
Ryan says the way you go from 6-1 to 6-7 is "you play poorly." Says nobody wants to be a part of that.— Jeanna (@jeannathomas) December 13, 2015
Mr. Blank just came in. Looks displeased.— Jeanna (@jeannathomas) December 13, 2015
I highlight these particular moments and quotes because they all tell you exactly how the Falcons are feeling: Miserable. This was a team with playoff hopes that now stands no chance of winding up in the dance, and those who saw the cracks early deserve to crow about it now, if only so they have something to feel better about. This team has given us very few positives over the last two months, and the Falcons simply have nothing to be upbeat about now that they've been creamed, shut out, and thoroughly shamed by the same team that ended Mike Smith's tenure a year ago. The fact that the score was even more lopsided than it was in 2014 makes a reasonable discussion about where this team is headed impossible, and I think the team is aware of that.
Given that there's very little to be done in the next three games before the overhaul comes this offseason, I'll put this in blunt, frank terms: Dan Quinn needs to kick this team's ass. I know this team is lacking talent at key spots, but presuming Quinn is going to be around in 2016 (and I absolutely believe he will be), he needs to decide who is going to play hard and figure into next year's plans. You're out of the picture at this point and just need to show something, anything to gets fans excited about the offseason and give yourself something to build on, and you're coming off a 38-0 butt kicking from a rival. All you can do is figure out who is worthy of playing time and who isn't, plug those guys in, and try to build on something for next year. Everyone else needs to get the message that they're either scrounging hard for their playing time, or they're guaranteed a ticket out of town in 2016. When you collapse so spectacularly, and when the coaching staff's future is on the line, that's all there is left to do.
Arthur Blank is likely to react by firing someone, potentially popular scapegoat and general manager Thomas Dimitroff, as a way to prove he's committed to taking action. That would be a fell-good move for many, but as unacceptable as everyone around the team finds this loss, the real changes won't be coming until the offseason, which is why motivational tactics are needed now. You can paper over what ails you, but until you get at the root of the problem by fixing the interior of the offensive line, adding talent to the defense, and improving the way you coach and think about your football team, papering over is all it is.
With the improving Jaguars on the docket for next week, this isn't guaranteed to get much better. I think this team is aware that unless they show real progress, they risk losing an already unhappy fanbase, as well as the game on the field. Show us progress.