The Falcons looked like they weren’t even trying for most of that embarrassing loss to the Browns. It’s completely fair to wonder if they looked past Cleveland.
They looked lackluster from the start. The offense never seemed to get into a rhythm. The defense appeared to forget how to do things like “tackling” and “not being terrible.” It was an absolute embarrassment of a performance against a team that lives in the basement of the AFC North.
Dan Quinn, needless to say, was not happy with the effort he saw from his squad today.
"No reason why we didn't play with the effort, the energy that normally characterizes the guys."— Justin Felder (@Justin_FOX5) November 11, 2018
--#Falcons coach Dan Quinn on defense coming out after halftime -- allowed TDs on first two Cleveland drives pic.twitter.com/5MXZkfQfii
Earlier, we linked to mentions of De’Vondre Campbell’s postgame comments on social media, but we haven’t heard the audio ourselves. Until we do, we’ll leave that out of this piece, but please do pass along the audio if you have it.
The offense looked abysmal. They had two fumbles lost, one from Matt Ryan and one from Sanu. The defense wasn’t better, swatting at balls and not wrapping up tackles. They gave up over 200 yards on the ground and let rookie Baker Mayfield throw for 216 yards and three touchdowns. It was a total team letdown.
Julio Jones said it’s on the team to fix itself, and he wasn’t the only one.
"Giving up 200 [rushing yards], it's not something we're proud about. We've got to be better," --@GradyJarrett after loss to #Browns pic.twitter.com/zDE7yFcMM7— Justin Felder (@Justin_FOX5) November 11, 2018
But this offense has been firing on all cylinders. With the exception of the losses to the Eagles and the Steelers (ban the state of Pennsylvania, in my opinion) they’ve been near unstoppable. And the defense hasn’t been good, but they have been adequate in the past two games. So to implode against the Browns points to a lack of effort.
Professional football players know too well that any team can beat you on any given Sunday. You can’t afford to look past the Browns because they’re the Browns. They’re a team that’s stacked with talent on both sides of the ball, and they’ve largely suffered due to mismanagement from the owner, lackluster coaching, and wild instability at the quarterback position. They’ve been much more competitive this year. They would have beaten the Saints if not for some terribly botched kicks, and the Saints are good. I’m just being honest. I don’t like that any more than you do.
Looking past any team is unconscionable at this level of football. It is that simple.
Cleveland tripled its win total from the past two seasons, moving to 3-6-1 with the victory over the Falcons. The Falcons are now 4-5 and watching their playoff hopes disintegrate before their eyes. I don’t know that more effort would have changed that outcome, but it certainly would have helped.