The Atlanta Falcons aren't a good football team right now. Maybe they're not playing to their potential, or maybe they just aren't built to win this year. Bottom line: there's plenty of blame to go around. I'd lay the majority of it squarely at the feet of the coaches and players. But are there other contributing factors? Officiating, for example.
Mile High Report featured an interesting article yesterday about penalty yard differential. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, it's simply the difference between penalty yards assessed against your team and penalty yards assessed in favor of your team. The Falcons have the second-worst penalty differential (-294) in the league this year. Because only 9 teams have a penalty differential lower than -100, that says something. On top of that, the Falcons rank 27th in "penalties for" this year.
So where exactly are the Falcons not catching any breaks? Well, to be frank, if you check out the NFL Penalty Tracker, it's an issue across the board. There are two possibilities here. One, the Falcons are legitimate victims of bad officiating. Or two, the Falcons are very sloppy. I have a hard time with the latter explanation. Dan Quinn may be a rookie head coach, but he's no Jerry Glanville. He's not coaching his guys to be sloppy. At the same time, Quinn does emphasize aggressive play, and that could easily account for a number of the penalties assessed against the Falcons this year.