mqg96

The Falcoholic: The Falcons are front-runners

55 posts in this topic

Well, it’s time we finally admit the truth about this franchise.

By Cory Woodroof @CoryWoodroof47  Dec 12, 2018, 8:00am EST

Leodis McKelvin was right. The Atlanta Falcons are, have been, and for the immediate future, will be front-runners.

Go back to 2016 with me, if you will. The Falcons had just lost to the Philadelphia Eagles, one of the team’s few 2016 regular season flops.

The game showed what happened when the historic offense met a fierce defensive front. The team was held to 15 points on offense and lost control of the game’s tempo, which sunk the explosive mentality the team thrived on way back when.

Post-game, McKelvin uttered the awful truth no one wanted to believe at a time where things were about to break even for Atlanta in the biggest way possible.

“I was telling the defense, this is the type of team, they are a front-runner. They are a front-running team,” he told reporters (via ESPN). “If you go out there and make some stops, they eventually are going to be dying down.”

The quote, at the time, was great bulletin board material for a team that surely used that moment to jettison to a better place (well, almost). But its the most telling observation about this franchise ever relayed by an opponent, and the defining problem of this team in the post-Michael Vick era.

The Falcons are front-runners. They do wilt at immediate adversity. Slow them down, knock them out of the fight. It’s how it’s always been, and 2018 is that in grand amplification.

Let’s go back to any big moment in recent team history.

Looking Back

The 2010 season ended in the divisional round with Aaron Rodgers coming out, guns blazing, to stop the Falcons after they got out to an early 14-7 start to see 35 unanswered points derail a promising campaign.

The 2012 season ended with a collapsed lead in the NFC Championship to the 49ers that kept the team from going to its second Super Bowl. The week prior, they did the exact same thing to the Seahawks, but the mighty foot of Matt Bryant saved pain for a week later.

In February 2017, well, we won’t go there.

Look at the 2013 season, when, after a rash of injuries, the entire half decade of goodwill seemingly evaporated and led to the end of an era with the firing of Mike Smith in 2014. Look at the 2015 season, when the team let a few close games gather moss down the rolling hill to lose six straight. Look at the 2011 season, when the team fell flat at the Meadowlands by only scoring two points. Look at January’s Eagles debacle.

Want more examples? Google: “Falcons blow lead regular season.”

Sometimes, in large part thanks to Matt Ryan, they can fight their way back for the comeback. But we haven’t seen that much as of late. And it still doesn’t discount the fact that they had to be in that situation to begin with.

The team’s problems haven’t changed once since 2008. They can’t handle teams with stout trenches, and the teams with strong run games and even stronger defensive lines always win out against the Birds when the things get close. The Falcons never seem to find success in addressing their own trenches, which have both been decent at the best since the turn of the millennium. The team can’t handle compounding injuries, they can’t handle blown leads, they can’t handle what happens when things go wrong.

They have to have everything in place to succeed. It’s never quite broken even in their favor. They’ve gotten close, but not quite.

Why is that?

Why is it this team can’t get into the tough moments and box out a win? Why can’t this team withstand injuries? Why can’t this team hold a lead? Why does this team spend so much time worrying about rising up? What about staying up when the punches come in bunches?

Don’t throw around curses, or “that’s just the way it is,” or more jargon about this or that with the team’s history. This is football, not World of Warcraft. You’re not bound to some ancient hex or manifest destiny. It’s just a game, and anyone can fix anything at any time to win whatever they want to win.

The Falcons are front-runners, and it’s time for Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff to fix that.

Looking Within

Quinn has helped solve some of that problem of the team being accused of being a finesse outfit. He drafted guys like Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, Takkarist McKinley and Grady Jarrett to change the mentality. He wanted guys who were fast and physical; we all know that.

For the most part, he’s gotten that exact result. But this team never seems to escape this belief that it’s, as Fox Sports’ Nick Wright said after the team lost in Philly in January, “a soft, finesse dome team.”

Is it time we all start taking that moniker seriously?

Is this just who the Falcons are, at least right now? Are they really just birds of comfort? These old legacy teams like the Patriots, Packers, Steelers, Bears, Giants, Broncos, Eagles, Dolphins ... the win-in-the-elements, smack-you-down, mean-machine outfits who can win with two teeth, a busted jaw, and a broken leg.

We’ve seen the Falcons play tough in this Quinn era, so that total perception isn’t quite true. But we’ve seen them wilt down the stretch too many times in equal measure, often to these types of teams who keep swinging even when the Falcons seemingly have them pinned.

The Falcons saw their greatest weakness send them home from Houston without a trophy. They faded down the stretch in the franchise’s most important moment in the exact way McKelvin said they would. The Patriots got some stops, got a few scores, and whammo, a 28-3 lead disappears like a thief in the night.

The Patriots didn’t steal the Super Bowl; the Falcons gave it away.

They couldn’t overcome their grandest problem, and it stole the greatest victory a football team can achieve.

Looking ahead

This team has been a front-runner for as long as I can remember, unable to handle the smallest dose of adversity. The team rebounding after 2017’s Super Bowl fracas to get to the divisional round was an incredible feat, but they had time to plan. Quinn has been wondrous about fixing problems in the offseason and letting the team grow. He’ll most likely do that this spring.

But when new problems pop up in-season, the team just doesn’t seem to have the wherewithal to withstand them. It happens time after time. The Falcons have to have everything break their way in order to achieve ultimate success. If that doesn’t happen, neither do the Falcons.

The rare example of this came in 2016, when the team lost Desmond Trufant to injury, and Jalen Collins stepped up. The team did get the benefit of having Quinn take the plays over in that stretch, which gave them the defensive boost they needed. Collins is gone now, and Quinn hasn’t called the plays since the Super Bowl.

But what would’ve happened that year if the team had gotten more banged up? Well, you saw down the stretch.

What will the Falcons have to do to fix this? Who knows. It’s not something you can just pinpoint to fix through the draft, or in free agency, or with a coaching change. The entire mentality of the organization has to change, the players you bring in have to have fight in them, the entire team has to have a strong left hook and a nasty counter-punch.

No matter the eventual solution, McKelvin called it two years ago.

He doesn’t have to stay right, though.

If the Falcons want a Super Bowl, they’re going to have to figure out how to be tough and resilient ... no, not in general. When it counts.

It’s time for the Falcons to break away from the front-running mentality. It’s time for them to shed the dome-friendly visage. It’s time for them to be 100% tough.

It’s time for the Atlanta Falcons to get a backbone. Here’s desperately hoping they find one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, mqg96 said:

 

What will the Falcons have to do to fix this? Who knows.

Uh, yeah....that's kind of the problem.  lol

7 minutes ago, mqg96 said:

It’s time for them to be 100% tough.

"get tough!" 

Gee, never heard that one before. 

Stray Dog THA GAWD likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Its a good article but the term "front runner" isn't what we are at all. 

Front runner

noun

  1. a person who leads in any competition.
  2. an entrant in a race who breaks to the frontimmediately and establishes the pace forthe field.
  3. an entrant in a race who performs well onlywhen ahead of the field.

 

We are definitely not #3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, FalconinPA said:

We need a head coach than can coach the softness out this team. We were soft but good under Smith as well as Quinn before this year. Now we are soft and terrible.

Someone akin to Gregg Williams. 

I know everyone on these boards hate him, and there is something to be said for professionality, but nobody fuqs with Gregg Williams.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I feel as though we pick the fight but then we walk away.  Look at Quinn's and Ryan's post game conferences.  I wish they would really tell us how they feel.  Get under someone's skin.  I want someone in the room to say, i'm taking my level up play up to the next level, and I dare anyone in here to match it.  

Hurry_Up_And_Buy likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with the thought about the “trenches”...we’ve ALWAYS have had that problem no matter coach or QB. 

Until we drastically change our approach to this, we will continue to be almost-beens.

Edited by The Vent King
Doctor Kildare likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with the writer. The Falcons are a front-running team with no heart, no balls, no pride and no idea of what it takes to win a game against a tough, hard-nosed opponent consistently. As the writer said, this goes back before Quinn, before Smitty.

The Falcons started off their existence as a trash franchise owned by a random business man who didn't know jack squat about sports, let alone professional football. They spent years getting their heads pounded in, with teams running up the score, with referees calling every conceivable nit-pick foul they could dream up on the Falcons. After decades of abuse with only rare seasons above .500, maybe the losing, embarrassment and humiliation just became ingrained.

Quinn's team is the epitomy of the front-runner mentality. The team tries to get a lead and then sit on it and hope the other team won't catch up instead of pouring it on. Quinn's teams don't look to put opponents away, they look for a good spot to go into a shell. And the bigger the lead, the more soft and chokey the Falcons play, so even 28-3 was not insurmountable.

It appears Quinn's job is safe, but he really needs to make a complete 180-degree change in his coaching hires, his game plans, chuck the Charmin defensive scheme and re-make his leadership philosophy this off-season. It's time to stop embracing the suck, stop being gutless chokers and start kicking ***, closing teams out and finishing games when we have the lead. If the players we have now don't have the intestinal fortitude to win the tough games, cut them and bring in some who do.

It'll be interesting to see if Quinn has it in him to re-make himself and his team to get back to the SB and finish the job he started in 2016.

 

VTCrunkler, E. T., mqg96 and 3 others like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, Falcanuck said:

Someone akin to Gregg Williams. 

I know everyone on these boards hate him, and there is something to be said for professionally, but nobody fuqs with Gregg Williams.

Yes, He fits the bill. Softness gone

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, PokerSteve said:

I agree with the writer. The Falcons are a front-running team with no heart, no balls, no pride and no idea of what it takes to win a game against a tough, hard-nosed opponent consistently. As the writer said, this goes back before Quinn, before Smitty.

.......

It appears Quinn's job is safe, but he really needs to make a complete 180-degree change in his coaching hires, his game plans and his leadership philosophy this off-season. It's time to stop embracing the suck, stop being gutless chokers and start kicking ***, closing teams out and finishing games when we have the lead. It'll be interesting to see if Quinn has it in him to re-make himself and his team to get back to the SB and finish the job he started in 2016.

 

This is why I don't get people pinning this all on Quinn.  The issue has been around for pretty much forever with this team.  Look back at 98.  The team rolled into the SB on fire after beating the Vikings... Eugene Robinson acts a fool .. and they came out flat, looking nothing like the team that got them there. 

That said, Quinn absolutely NEEDS to fix things THIS offseason.  His tenure as head coach hinges on remaking this team into one that can take a punch and finishes people off instead of trying to get out ahead and hang on. 

I like Quinn.  I really do.  And I think he has the ability to turn things around..  but it is going to take a serious mentality change.  Time to channel the anger and frustration into the team and start taking it out on opponents.  No more playing it safe, flat and passionless.  That is what got Mike Smith canned.  If Quinn can't change, he will head down the same road and be looking for work after the 2019 season.

PokerSteve likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The truth hurts, but the Falcons are soft as all ****!!!  He is right about the falcons being front-runners..................in futility!!!   The Falcons have been relying on finesse and ******** for far too long!  Everything has to go RIGHT for this team to be competitive, and when was the last time you really saw this team dominate anyone (the Thursday night game a few years back against Tampa comes to mind, but (IIRC) Tampa was missing some key players too!)????  The Falcons need to change up A LOT of things and get away from the smoke, mirrors and horse**** that define this team!!!!  Oh, and stop overpaying these bum *** players too!!!  Rant off!:angry:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, pa_falcon_fan said:

This is why I don't get people pinning this all on Quinn.  The issue has been around for pretty much forever with this team.  Look back at 98.  The team rolled into the SB on fire after beating the Vikings... Eugene Robinson acts a fool .. and they came out flat, looking nothing like the team that got them there. 

That said, Quinn absolutely NEEDS to fix things THIS offseason.  His tenure as head coach hinges on remaking this team into one that can take a punch and finishes people off instead of trying to get out ahead and hang on. 

I like Quinn.  I really do.  And I think he has the ability to turn things around..  but it is going to take a serious mentality change.  Time to channel the anger and frustration into the team and start taking it out on opponents.  No more playing it safe, flat and passionless.  That is what got Mike Smith canned.  If Quinn can't change, he will head down the same road and be looking for work after the 2019 season.

I agree completely, but I'm not quite as sure as you about him being able to make that mental change. Very hard for people to break out of their comfort zone, but he's going to have to grow and change a ton to keep his HC job.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pretty sure Ryan had the most 4th quarter comebacks in NFL history over the first 6 years of his carreer.  That’s the antithesis of front running.  But we had a power run game back then...the ZBS is so technical and rhythm based that it can be derailed, the timing can be effected.  

Hard2BaBirdWachr likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the Quinn trait I've been harping on since January 2016. When its good, its very good. When its bad, its very bad. That said, the season turns on a few plays and hot streaks are literally just the next good play away.  Thwart NO in OT?  Deflect the last ditch pass vs. Cincy?  This season could have been very different.  When an emotional leader has a hot unit, they make things happen. When an emotional leader has a cold unit, they hope for something good to happen. I have no empirical evidence of this; just 52 years of playing and observing sports of many types.  In my opinion, my observations fit the narrative; with really only Pete Carroll as a notable exception. Even his teams have run hot and cold the last two seasons. 

rbad8717 and VTCrunkler like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Atl Falcon said:

Actually that article describes a lot of teams...not just he Falcons

Exactly.  It's not the like the losses to the Eagles in 16, 17, and 18 were from wilting, they were just tough games that we didn't come out on top of.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, shc said:

Exactly.  It's not the like the losses to the Eagles in 16, 17, and 18 were from wilting, they were just tough games that we didn't come out on top of.

The Eagles formula of football won them the Super Bowl, and we went 0-3 against them 2 years in a row. In fact, if you look at the previous 2 Super Bowl champions. The Falcons went a combined 0-5 against them for 3 consecutive seasons. It was a combination of better head coaches and better line of scrimmages that bullied the Falcons. 

WornOutFalconFan likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now