Coming into Sunday’s game, the Atlanta Falcons ensured the public they would get back to the fast and physical brand of football that they became known for in the Dan Quinn era. In the first three games, Atlanta got beat up at the point of attack, even though they beat Philadelphia. In Sunday’s loss to Tennessee, the Falcons had the most listless performance since they were blown out in Carolina 38-0 on December 13, 2015.
In four games, Atlanta’s defense is allowing their opponents to convert 51% of their third downs, giving up 109 rushing yards per game, and have sacked the quarterback only five times. Sunday, the Falcons were unable to sack Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota after they gave up nine sacks against Jacksonville. Moreover, Atlanta has given up 99 points in the first four games.
As the losses pile up, Falcon players were asked if Dan Quinn’s message was getting through.
“I think every man for himself gotta get out there and play. If it’s getting to me, why isn’t it getting to somebody else? I feel him,” Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett explained.
Meanwhile, the offensive side of the ball is without blame. In the first half of the past four games, the Falcons are getting outscored 71-20.
“Of course it is,” wide receiver Julio Jones said. “It’s just — I don’t understand. If we’re a high powered offense, we scored ten points today. I can’t tell you how we scored only 10 points.”
As more teams dare someone else to beat them, Julio admitted Sunday he faced double teams all afternoon. He was limited to four catches and 52 yards.
“Coming out, they definitely were in Cover 6 and two-man,” said Jones. “For the most part of the whole game they just doubled me and were like, ‘hey, make somebody else beat us today.’ ”
With the defeat, the Falcons have lost six straight games to AFC teams and are 1-10 against AFC teams since blowing the 28-3 lead in Super Bowl LI.
The boo birds were out in a sparsely filled Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan admits he’s feeling the heat.
“That’s part of if when you’re playing poorly,” Ryan said. “You are not giving them much to cheer about. You get it. We want to give them something to get loud about. To make those plays to get this place rocking. We didn’t do that (Sunday). We’ve got to find a way to make plays to get the energy in the building going.”
This week, the Falcons will travel to the scene of their most grisly massacre, NRG Stadium in Houston to take on Deshaun Watson and the Texans. Houston is coming off of a 16-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers, however with JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilius bookending their defensive line, they seek to get after an Atlanta offensive line that’s failed to establish any identity in the first four games.
“Fast and physical” was the mantra coming out of Flowery Branch during the summer. The Falcons still have time to fix it.