This was the Goodnight Moon of football games. If you struggled to maintain any focus or interest in this one, I don’t blame you. It was an atrocious showing against the Ravens, with the Falcons sleepwalking through yet another game that ensures an 8-8 record at best. With the way this team looked — inept, listless — Dan Quinn’s first losing season as the Falcons’ head coach is all but a virtual lock.
Here’s Hat Tips & Head-Scratchers from the Ravens catastrophe.
Grady Jarrett strip sack, Vic Beasley scoop and score
There was next to nothing to like in this one, the team simply going through the motions as if they’ve accepted their season is all but done. It was a chore to watch, the lone bright spot coming in the second quarter. Grady Jarrett was up to Grady Jarrett things, sacking Lamar Jackson and forcing the fumble. Vic Beasley scooped it up and displayed speed and effort, weaving through defenders and catching a couple of key blocks en route to a 74-yard return for the touchdown.
It was the Falcons’ first defensive touchdown of the year, and the only play that made this game slightly worth watching.
Deion Jones’ costly penalty
We’re celebrating Deion Jones’ return to the defense, but it was an inauspicious start for the Pro Bowl linebacker. With the Ravens facing 3rd-and-15 in the first quarter, Vic Beasley secured the stop to force a field goal attempt. That was wiped out by a Deion Jones Illegal Use of Hands penalty, gifting the Lamar Jackson and the Ravens a fresh set of downs. Jackson would scramble for the score on the next play.
Deion Jones played very well in his first game back, but his ill-timed penalty in the first quarter set the tone for what would be an awful day all-around.
The 4th-and-1 call
This Falcons team is not designed for power runs, but that’s exactly what they tried to do on their fourth down attempt in the second quarter. On the 50-yard-line, Steve Sarkisian called for Ito Smith to run straight into the middle of the Ravens’ front. The result was as pitiful as you’d expect, the bulk of the offensive line being completely pushed back as the try failed.
This team has shown no propensity for converting in short yardage situations all season, yet Sarkisian dialed up an awful situational play call and gave it a shot anyway. Going for it was the right move, but if you recognize — and are honest about — this team’s strengths and weaknesses, a run up the gut against one of the top run defenses in the league would have never happened.
Calvin Ridley continues to suffer from mental lapses, and even with all of the speed and route-running talent in the world he will not reach his full potential as a receiver until they get cleaned up. Ridley had another game fraught with mistakes, namely a big drop on a deep ball from Matt Ryan and the inexplicable decision not to dive for a first down in the third quarter.
Ridley is immensely gifted and the bulk of his miscues simply appear as a lack of concentration. Thankfully that’s fixable, but it’s also fair to say that the drops and errors will define his rookie campaign as much as the touchdowns.
The Zane Beadles experiment
This isn’t so much a head-scratcher as confirmation of just how bad things have gotten on the offensive line. Per Pro Football Focus, Zane Beadles posted the lowest grade of the entire Falcons’ offense at 50.2, his play emblematic of the O-line after the losses of Andy Levitre and Brandon Fusco. With the Falcons in the NFC South basement, there’s no guarantee we’ll see Ben Garland back at right guard next week.