This might be the beginning of the end.
I’ve been trying to avoid thinking of what might happen if the Atlanta Falcons mess this season up; if Dan Quinn’s master plan for fixing the 2018 woes wound up backfiring on him; if another season gets wasted for this supremely talented roster.
Sunday’s Titans loss, one of the worst and most embarrassing in Quinn’s time at the helm, felt like the tolling of a grim bell. It hints that something might be rotting within this team, once the toast of the NFC and a hard out every week.
2016’s record-setting offense and conference title feels dusty, as does 2017’s scrap-it-to-the-playoffs grit. This iteration of the Atlanta Falcons is one of the worst I’ve ever seen, and doesn’t have a whole lot of room to make excuses.
Losing Keanu Neal stings, sure, but a football team can’t collapse over the loss of a defensive starter. That obviously doesn’t explain the anemic offense that’s questionably coached. That doesn’t explain the continued underwhelming pass rush or bad penalties.
2018 could be chalked up as a perfect storm of things in the team’s control and out of it. Sunday just showed a team with all the potential in the world refusing to take hold of it.
These Falcons aren’t unlucky. They just stink right now.
It’s more than fair to be losing patience with this coaching staff, and I can stand to reason any number of you could’ve called a better game than Dirk Koetter did Sunday.
It’s inexcusable to see such a loaded offense piddle as it does in the red zone, and it stands to wonder if the team needs a bit of a fresher mind in the box or on the sidelines to guide such a potentially prolific unit. Koetter’s scheme seems stale and obvious right now.
Quinn’s defense has been bewilderingly mistake prone and wildly unreliable recently. They get stops here and there and flash excellent play, but it’s always negated by bad plays and worse penalties. They play without formality and restraint, and are prone to giving up explosive plays weekly.
Special teams-wise, maybe it wasn’t, in hindsight, such a good idea to cut the veteran kicker they wound up bringing back so he would be out of facilities in the offseason, or make the punter active who, by no means, looks healthy enough to be doing his job right now.
The Falcons needed to take advantage of this part of their schedule, with October (at Houston, at Arizona, vs. LA Rams, vs. Seattle) one of the hardest stretches this season.
The NFC South is moving away, too, with the Saints 3-1, the Bucs fresh off putting 55 points on the Rams and Carolina 2-0 over the last two weeks with a backup quarterback and resurgent defense.
The Falcons are 0-2 since its big SNF win against Philly and are trending downward. They can’t score in the first half, can’t fight back in the second half quite enough to make it interesting and can’t find any sort of consistency or improvements.
They look lost out there. Great players are underperforming; growing players are making too many mistakes. This team just looks like it’s not going to figure it out anytime soon.
To say Quinn is on the hot seat pains me, in part because I’ve believed in him. I thought he’d be the great coach to lead this Falcons team to its potential, but right now, I fear he’s a leading reason why it’s faltering so. I wish I understood why.
Sadly, DQ’s time is running out in Atlanta. If he does not get this fixed with at least a 9-7 finish, I fear it’ll be the closing curtain for his coaching staff. The front office isn’t likely to make it out of this coaching change, either. We may be looking at a completely changed look outside of the roster.
A total rebuild is a silly notion, and a new coaching staff might be the answer to utilizing this gold mine of talent on the team’s roster. I hope Quinn figures it out, and that we can avoid that step. But it doesn’t look good right now.
You can’t lose to the 2019 Titans at home if you want to be taken seriously. You can’t wait until the third quarter to think about turning on your engine. You can’t be a bad football team and feel comfortable for the future.
I hope the team gets better. I fear that they won’t.
This might not end well. Golly, I hope it does.