We're at the point where the Atlanta Falcons are so bad and so embarrassing that I simply don't have a ton to say about them. They got blown off the field by the Carolina Panthers, they are now sub-.500 and their season is dead, and Dan Quinn has gone from ballyhooed hire to man who probably needs to win in 2016 to stick around for the new stadium. There are tire fires raging years at a time that are giving off less heat and fewer terrible smells.
There's no question that the Falcons have major re-tooling to do in the offseason. They had the look of a team that could have hung in a shaky NFC South, but instead Carolina has been truly excellent and the Falcons have been on a steady downward trajectory ever since Week 5, looking like one of the worst teams in the NFL thanks to a combination of poorly play and mediocre coaching. They were outgunned from the very beginning of this one, with the defense wilting and the offense looking completely inept thanks to poor pass protection, poor passes, and a mediocre ground game. We have come face to face with the fact that this coaching staff isn't (yet) good enough, the talent level on this team is worse than I think most of us expected it to be, and we can't count on sudden improvement. The team's best road forward is to take a cool, critical eye to the team, cut away dead weight and free up money, and push for effective complements to the players they believe in.
Given that, there are few changes that would surprise me at this point. As at least one member of the writing staff here at The Falcoholic put it, "burn it to the ground." There will be more familiar faces leaving this offseason, for certain, with Kyle Shanahan, Thomas Dimitroff, William Moore, and others looking like potential cuts. It may look like a tall order to achieve success after that game, but I think everyone involved with this team understands that if the Falcons can't get better in a hurry, there's going to be an awfully empty new stadium in 2017. That breeds urgency, but Atlanta's best course is to figure out who belongs, be patient and wise, and try to create a team that is capable of winning for years to come. If they don't receive the fanbase's patience and gratitude for that approach, well, they've lost that patience and goodwill for good reasons.
On to the (abbreviated) recap.
- Matt Bosher pinned the Panthers inside their own ten yard line twice.
- The pass rush actually got home in this one, on occasion!
- The offense is such a mess it's almost comical. Matt Ryan is making bad throws, the offensive line is collapsing, they can't run effectively, and they're calling plays where the obvious option on a 3rd and 5 is a three yard route across the middle.You can blame almost everybody to an extent, from Kyle Shanahan's weird play calling to Ryan's shaky throws to the poor pass protection to the receivers being unable to get open quickly to those fans who didn't wear their jerseys inside out like they were supposed to.
- The defense needed to come right out and make a statement against Carolina, and they did. Unfortunately, the statement was "we can't contain Jonathan Stewart or Greg Olson," and the Panthers marched right down the field. Nice plays by Grady Jarrett and Kroy Biermann were ruined by lousy effort and O'Brien Schofield's roughing the passer call. You can quibble with the penalties, but the important takeaway was that the defense simply didn't look capable of stopping the Panthers.
- Robert Alford committing a penalty and still allowing a 70-plus yard touchdown to Ted Ginn Jr. was awful, and it came with Alford seemingly slowing to a halt after the catch actually happened. Just a horrendous effort by a player who had been pretty good all year.
- This team is a disaster. Arthur Blank and company aren't going to overreact and fire Dan Quinn, but sweeping changes to the roster and some tweaks to the coaching staff seem inevitable. Everyone involved with this organization has to be tired of being embarrassed and ashamed all the time, and Quinn's probably got just one year to show some genuine progress.
That feels knee jerk and reactionary and wrong to think of a new coaching staff a year into something we all thought was going to be a bit of a rebuild project, but the effort and performance is so horrendous you simply can't think anything else now. You can't get absolutely blown off the field by a division rival and stand in front of fans and media and say you're headed in the right direction. At least Dan Quinn didn't try after the game.
Game MVP: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.
Theme Song: What is the saddest song you know? I'm seriously asking.
One Takeaway: This isn't going to get better until 2016, and in order to save the team, it may need to get a little worse first.
Final Word: Failure.