Everybody makes mistakes. But when the Falcons make mistakes to the tune of 16 penalties in a single game, it’s a bit much.
Through three games, the Falcons have committed 35 penalties. That places the team at the top of the NFL for this dubious distinction, where they are tied with the Cleveland Browns.
Look, folks, I probably don’t need to tell you that you don’t want to be tied with the Browns — a team that also holds titles in categories like “most ineffective quarterbacks started since 1999” and “most recent winless season” and “most squandered draft picks” — in any way, shape, or form.
Quinn said the level of play on Sunday, including the penalties, pissed him off. Well, same.
“But we’ve got to control what we can and to have 16 penalties and be minus-one in the turnover margin – that puts you in a difficult spot. That certainly was the case,” Quinn said via a transcript released by the team’s media relations department. “I think there were six, seven, eight maybe first downs, you know, on fouls. It’s hard to overcome that and then minus-one in the turnover margin. So we’ve got work to do as we get ready because we’ve got to get our road mentality right. This one stinks.”
Matt Ryan also addressed the penalties after Sunday’s loss to the Colts.
“I think everyone is angry with not performing the way we can. The penalties, the turnovers and those types of things – we’ve had too much of that the first couple weeks of the season. We had too much of that today,” Ryan said.
“Those are thing we’ve got to clean up to be a better football team. A lot of them we can control. The procedural stuff – the pre-snap penalties – that’s on us and that comes down to discipline. We’ve got to be better across the board as players when we get our chances.”
Last year, the Falcons had 103 penalties called on them over 16 games. They’re on pace to hit that mark by the week after the bye this season. Looking at last year’s numbers on NFLPenalties.com, one thing stands out: Teams that landed in the Top 10 for the number of penalties called are all teams that did not make the postseason, except for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Indianapolis Colts.
It’s not that I’m suggesting that the Falcons could make the postseason if they’d just play more disciplined football. This team has bigger issues than just committing too many penalties. But the lack of discipline illuminates a few things about this team that are deeply concerning in the big picture — primarily coaching.
Frankly, I’d take the unsportsmanlike call against Keanu Neal for throwing his helmet after tearing his Achilles off the board entirely. That was an absolute garbage and unnecessary call. Aside from that, some of the penalties can be chalked up to a lack of experience along the offensive line or with other starters stepping in for injured players, so we may naturally see an improvement as that unit gels and new starters at other positions get more game speed experience. But 35 through three games is way too many penalties to attribute to just those concerns.
The coaching staff is surely working to correct these issues. It is on the players to execute, but If the team’s not internalizing and acting on those corrections — and the numbers suggest they’re clearly not — then it’s on Dan Quinn and his staff to diagnose why that is and make adjustments. And that needs to happen, like, yesterday.
On Monday, Quinn did say he has a plan to correct the penalties.
Dan Quinn plans to bring the full officiating crew to practice this week to make sure to work on the penalties— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) September 23, 2019
Quinn’s seat is only going to get toastier if we don’t see improvement in this area, and quickly. Being on par with the Browns in any context doesn’t do much for your job security in the NFL.