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Falcons vs. Bengals: Our reactions and takeaways after another narrow loss

There’s some optimism in here, in case you wondered.

Cincinnati Bengals v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Dave Choate

This team is courting disaster in such an unnecessary way.

Everyone’s pretty clear that poor defensive play put the Falcons in a position to lose this game, but the blame for the loss has gone to deep breath everyone from Dan Quinn to Marquand Manuel to Robert Alford to Desmond Trufant to Isaiah Oliver to Brian Poole to Matt Ryan. These maddeningly close games have opened the floodgates for that kind of criticism, but honestly, this team should not have been in a position to lose so narrowly to the Bengals. They played so poorly in the first half that they dug themselves a hole some improved second half D couldn’t get them out of.

There’s a deficit of talent and readiness on defense, but the primary reason the Falcons looked so awful on Sunday was that their veteran secondary played far below their usual standards. The Falcons can win more games this season—even if a winning season is a huge question mark, much less a playoff berth—but they’ll need to stop shooting themselves in the foot immediately. With the Steelers and Buccaneers on deck, that’s looking dicey.


I can’t advocate for tanking, but dear god it may happen anyways.

As fans, the idea of getting a top draft pick will always collide with the reality of what it takes to get there. Yet, with the offense putting up over 30 per game and the defense still finding ways to squander it, here we are. Matt Ryan may legitimately put up record numbers yet again and we may end up with a top-12 draft pick. I hope this team can turn things around, but my hopes for the playoffs disappeared today. Maybe tanking isn’t such a bad idea after all…

Matt Chambers

This is definitely and without question the worst Falcons loss I can ever remember.

Cory Woodroof

Pessimistic Optimism

The tough part about Atlanta’s 2018 is that it’s probably going to get better from here. Like, if they can beat a struggling Pittsburgh team on the road next Sunday, they have a good chance of sweeping October and hitting 4-3. Why is that tough? Because if they start looking good and get close to knocking on the playoff door, these September slip-ups are going to haunt them. The Falcons are probably going to end the year looking like a really good football team once the safeties get comfortable and Deion Jones gets back. The challenging part about that is if it’ll be too little too late. Sunday was awful, but sorry, folks, the only way to go is up, and that’s probably where we’re headed. They’re going to make the play to win these close games once the communication on defense improves. The Falcons will not let you off the hook that easily. They never do. We’re still in this, for better or worse. Rising up is the symptom, not the cure.


I’m old. I’ve seen much, much worse than this.

I’m certainly not ready to throw in the towel on the season yet, though I expect another tough game this week. If the losses had been blowouts, sure, I’d say the team is overrated and the season is toast. But Atlanta’s three losses have been by a total of 13 points, with 6 of those coming in overtime. In spite of the injuries this team has been within one play of winning every game.

I saw a lot of things - both good and bad - in this week’s game. The most important one was an adjustment made at halftime by Marquand Manuel and/or Dan Quinn. The defense stopped playing so much zone coverage after halftime and played a whole lot more man. It was a significant improvement, and I expect to see much more man coverage over the next few weeks. Personally, I love it. Jam those receivers at the line to give the pass rush that extra second, and make the receivers work to get open.

Of course, it’s extremely frustrating to realize that if they had made this change at the half last week, they’d be 3-1 now rather than 1-3.