There is possibly a numbness that has set in over a large swath of the Atlanta Falcons fan base this season. It’s not only the number of losses, but the exhausting nature of the losses have been mind-boggling. This past Sunday against the New Orleans Saints was no exception.
The 21-16 loss for the Falcons was their third straight defeat to their bitter foe and added to the list of late game disappointment for the Falcons. The team must rebound as a cross country trip to Los Angeles awaits for the Falcons. But before this page is turned, let’s highlight some key takeaways this past contest against New Orleans.
Head scratching late game decision making
As the case with Dallas, Detroit, Chicago, and the first matchup with the Carolina Panthers, the execution by the Falcons in late game situations was tough to watch. In each of those games, Atlanta was excruciatingly close to concluding those games as victories, only to blow it. Facing a 3rd-and-2 with under two minutes remaining and the ball on the Saints 13-yard line, running back Todd Gurley took a shotgun handoff and instead of trying to get north & south, he decided to bounce the run outside and instead was met by about four or five Saints defenders, losing seven yards in the process.
That decision forced the Falcons into a fourth-and-long, in which they didn’t convert, of course. This is not the first time that Gurley has attempted to do too much at the most inopportune time. We don’t need bring up the Lions game once again. Even the second matchup against the Panthers saw the former Georgia Bulldog make a questionable move that almost bit the team. The Falcons have shown the inability to close out games in a variety of ways this season.
Shouldering the load (again)
Once again, kicker Younghoe Koo showed how he can be valuable weapon for this Atlanta. On the day, Koo went 3-for-3 on field goals, which included a 53-yarder in the first quarter. On the season, Koo leads the league in made field goals with 32 and is third in the NFL in field goal conversion percentage at 97%. Koo is also third in the league in made field goals of 50 yards or more with seven. For a Falcons offense that has had a very difficult time putting the ball in the end zone the past few weeks, their kicker has decided to turn his game up a notch.
Coaching staff concerns
It seems like forever since the Falcons made the change after week five of terminating the tenure of Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff as head coach and general manager respectively. The inevitable is that the Falcons will see plenty of transition from the remaining members of the coaching staff but even they are still looking to coach the team the best they can with hopes of opportunities after the season.
Games such as this is what will be concerning for the staff going forward. Once again, interim head coach Raheem Morris has shown why some around the league are questioning whether he is ready to be a head coach again. The play calling by offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has arguably been the biggest reason why the offense has underachieved. It has definitely been a sore spot to watch at times and if he is not in the NFL next season, I would understand. Whether or not you were in favor of bringing back Morris and the staff in 2021, the signs we have seen this season shows why the Falcons may be better off scrubbing this thoroughly this offseason.