A midseason win streak came to a screeching halt with the Falcons falling short to the Cleveland Browns, 28-16. Here is what we learned.
I have to roll my sleeves back for this one.
The scoreboard read 28-16 in favor of the Cleveland Browns. The box score showed quarterback Matt Ryan throwing for 330 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. It will even show receiver Julio Jones with 107 yards in a game where he also became the fastest receiver to eclipse 10,000 receiving yards. However, the real story in this loss will not be seen within the box score or a game summary.
What the loss to the Browns showed is simple: The Atlanta Falcons lack the intangibles that it takes to win in this league.
I don’t speak for anyone but myself. But on Sunday, I saw a team that was without toughness, grit, and focus. To be quite honest, that points back to the head coach. I am an advocate for Dan Quinn as the head coach for the Falcons. He has displayed plenty of positives to the Falcons roster since taking the reigns prior to the 2015 season. However, just as we saw against the Dolphins in 2017, the Buccaneers in 2016, and the Colts and 49ers during the 2015 season, this team under Quinn has found ways to look completely deplorable against opponents that they should be able to beat convincingly.
The wave of inconsistency with this team can be maddening at times. Either they look capable of being among the league’s best as they did last week against Washington or they look the way they did against the Browns as a team that should be getting ready for the offseason. There is little in between. That means you never really know what Falcons team will take the field on any given Sunday, and one week’s takes on this football team are undone by the next week’s performance.
I get it. They are still missing valuable starters on both sides of the ball. However, that excuse was null and void when the team went on the road and beat a physical Washington team after a bye. This week, it was Cleveland who did the punching and the team that are not far removed from firing their head coach and offensive coordinator looked like the team that is sniffing the playoffs.
Sitting at 4-5, the playoff hopes for this team appear to be fading fast. The team will likely get linebacker Deion Jones back in the next few weeks but after an outing such as today, it is hard to place a barometer on this team because this showed that the mental makeup from this team is truly lacking. Games such as this makes you wonder a lot about this team going forward. Games such as this also taught us that while talent is lacking in some spots on the roster currently, what is truly absent for the Falcons at the moment is way beyond the box score.