No one ever said that Dan Quinn had an overly complex defense. At its best, it features a solid framework for speedy, gifted playmakers to thrive in, but we’ve rarely seen it at its best in Atlanta.
On Sunday against the Texans, we saw it at its absolute worst, and the Texans took notice.
Wide receiver Keke Coutee did not have the finest day against Atlanta—that was probably Will Fuller, who eviscerated, embarrassed, and other e-worded the Falcons all day—he delivered a devastating indictment of the defense overall.
Texans WR Keke Coutee on Falcons' defense: 'We knew they were a pretty basic defense that wasn’t going to do too much. They were going to keep running the same thing over and over. Once we kind of found out their kinks they had, we just started capitalizing on our opportunities'— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) October 6, 2019
The issue does not have a simple fix—you can’t just fire Dan Quinn and this defense is going to drastically improve—but it’s fairly simple to diagnose. Quinn’s defense is not good because it is simple, and it relies heavily on execution. The Falcons are executing extremely poorly, which allowed Will Fuller to absolutely eat them alive because they never appear quite certain what’s supposed to be going on in coverage. It only takes a single miscommunication or slip to ruin everything when you’re up against great athletes, and that has been the story of the Falcons season thus far.
More Falcons confusion leads to Will Fuller TD pic.twitter.com/X2Z417AsSs— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) October 6, 2019
It also allowed Deshaun Watson to put together a career-best (and frankly historic) game, one week after the Falcons let Marcus Mariota look like an above average NFL quarterback against them. Atlanta’s had its moments, but the improvements you might’ve expected to see with Quinn taking over and some fresh faces in the mix have not materialized. At all. The Falcons defense was at its absolute worst against Houston.
.@deshaunwatson is the 3rd player in the Super Bowl era with 400 Pass yards, 5 Pass TDs and a perfect passer rating (158.3) in a game pic.twitter.com/DBPAfet6Nn— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 6, 2019
Unfortunately for the Falcons, Coutee was not alone in trashing the defense, just as Watson wasn’t alone in having a simple and incisive diagnosis for what the Falcons are doing and doing wrong. Former Falcon Ron Parker got in on the fun, too.
The scheme! The whole league no how to attack Atlanta defense. #softzone https://t.co/I4aslATrcs— Ron Parker (@ghost_0836) October 7, 2019
What I’m trying to get at here is that if guys are openly trash talking the simplicity of your defense, and that defense is heavily dependent on players executing at a high level, you are the Falcons. You are the Falcons and your defense is an awful mess, and the simplicity of your defense does not indicate a simple task ahead. Changes are coming to this defense, but not soon enough to save the season.