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Falcons vs. Texans: 3 Falcons up, 3 Falcons down after Week 5 road loss

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Fact: Matt Ryan ghost wrote Taylor Swift’s new album

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The Falcons have a lot of soul-searching to do in the days and weeks ahead. Dan Quinn’s job is apparently safe for now, but his status beyond this week’s game is decidedly uncertain. Where do they go from here? Is this season officially a lost cause? I can’t answer those questions, but I can tell you who excelled and who struggled during yesterday’s game. So without further ado, here’s this week’s edition of “3 Falcons up, 3 Falcons down.”

Three Falcons Up

Matt Ryan

Pick 6 in the 4th quarter aside, Matthew Thomas Ryan played some courageous football yesterday. He completed 32 passes and threw for 330 yards and 3 touchdowns. He did throw an interception in the four quarter, but at that point, the Falcons were trying desperately to keep the game close. (In other words, I don’t see how that could possibly be on him, and you can’t convince me otherwise.) Ryan got scapegoated by some fans after yesterday’s loss, which is equal parts disappointing and confusing. When the Falcons figure all this out, be it this year or next, Ryan will have played an integral part in the turnaround.

Calvin Ridley

Ridley broke back onto the scene yesterday, nabbing 5 receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown. Ridley was held to 3 receptions last week and 1 reception the week before. He hadn’t scored since the Week 2 victory over the Eagles. That’s not all on Ridley, given that Dirk Koetter has an unhealthy aversion to 3 wideout sets. But in any case, it’s good to see Ridley finding his stride again.

Grady Jarrett

Jarrett is an elite football player playing for a bad football team. That can’t be easy, but he plays his butt off every week and doesn’t do anything to hurt the team. Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson didn’t get sacked all day, but he was feeling the pressure from one member of the defensive line: Jarrett. One a 2nd and 1 play during the Texans’ first offensive drive, Jarrett blew past his man and forced a Carlos Hyde fumble. Unfortunately the momentum from that play didn’t propel the rest of the defense.

Three Falcons Down

Kaleb McGary

Rookies are rookies until they aren’t. That may seem like an oversimplification of the NFL learning curve, but it undoubtedly rang true in McGary’s case yesterday. McGary has been solid but his performance against the Texans was not pretty. In McGary’s defense, JJ Watt has made a career of making offensive tackles look silly. McGary was simply his next victim.

Dan Quinn

Man, bashing Quinn is getting old, but he keeps doing head-scratching things that absolutely warrant criticism, so here we are. Quinn’s refusal to adapt to what offenses throw at the Falcons defense is maddening. I’m not sure what firing Quinn will accomplish; this is already a lost season. But it’d sure make a lot of us feel better.

The Falcons secondary

The Falcons pass defense was virtually non-existent yesterday. The Texans wide receiver corps had a field day, in particular Will Fuller. Fuller caught 14 balls and racked up 217 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns. Deshaun Watson was incredibly efficient, completing 28 of 33 passing for 426 yards and 5 touchdowns. For what it’s worth, coming into yesterday’s game, no player in NFL history had ever thrown for 400 yards and 5 touchdowns with 5 or less incompletions. It’d literally never happened before. Literally.