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What we learned: Through four games, the Falcons are just bad


Goober Pyle
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https://theathletic.com/1253912/2019/09/30/what-we-learned-through-four-games-the-falcons-are-just-bad/

 

There’s no way around it at this point. Despite the high-priced contracts to Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Grady Jarrett and Deion Jones and despite the other individually talented players this roster has to offer, there is only one conclusion of what the Falcons are after four games.

And it’s a bad one.

Atlanta isn’t a bottom-feeder, at least not yet. Seven teams are winless, with either Pittsburgh and Cincinnati making it six by the end of Monday night — unless they tie.

But while seven teams are winless, the Falcons are a paltry 1-3. As Bill Parcells once said, “You are what your record says you are.” The thing is, if Nelson Algholor catches a pass down the left sideline in the home opener, Atlanta probably is winless and joining the ranks of the other teams that have looked overmatched to start the season.

With some teams, you can point to why they’ve been as bad as they’ve been. The Miami Dolphins are all-in on tanking. The New York Jets are forced to roll with their third-string quarterback, amid other obvious problems. There’s an obvious talent void in Cincinnati, Washington and Arizona. Denver and Pittsburgh have pieces here and there but can’t seem to put anything together.

In Atlanta, what has transpired makes little to zero sense.

Only two major injuries, Keanu Neal (Achilles) and Chris Lindstrom (broken foot), have occurred. It’s not like there was a ton of roster turnover. Through four games, Atlanta has proven to be mistake-prone, penalty-prone and undisciplined.

Against Minnesota, the Falcons were punched in the mouth and couldn’t regroup defensively. Against Philadelphia, they played physical but missed numerous chances to put the game away and nearly lost. Against Indianapolis, the defense was hit with the run, adjusted to sell out on it and was burned on play-action repeatedly. While Jacoby Brissett put up a stat line to die for against Atlanta, he completed only 52.2 percent of his throws in a home loss to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

With so many issues at so many spots, it’s fair to wonder just how long this slide will last. Sure, there are still 12 games to play. But this isn’t a team that is inspiring much confidence in anyone. Just take a look at the overall numbers.

  • While Atlanta ranks second in passing offense at 312.5 yards per game, mostly due to it being forced to play catch-up, it ranks tied for fourth with the Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Rams with six interceptions. The Dolphins, Bills and Redskins are the only teams with seven.
  • After spending an offseason talking about the need to establish the run, the Falcons rank 27th in rushing with an average of 70.2 yards per game. Outside of three runs against Indianapolis, Devonta Freeman has not been able to break free. Against the Titans, he ran 12 times for 28 yards. Former offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian’s group finished 27th in the run last year.
  • Through four games, with the likes of Jones, Calvin Ridley, Mohamed Sanu and Austin Hooper, Atlanta is averaging 17.5 points per game. Through four games in 2017, which included three losses, the Falcons were at least scoring 29 points per game, with the three defeats by one-score margins. In the three losses this season, Atlanta’s average margin of defeat has been by 11 points.
  • Dan Quinn took over defensive play-calling and now finds this unit ranked 24th in total yards allowed at 324.8 per game. Quinn spent the offseason analyzing a lot of film to see what worked and didn’t work the past few years while tweaking his scheme to combat the modern offense of today. Instead, the defense has seen many problems, with the latest being Tennessee’s ability to exploit the middle of the field in the passing game during the first half.

Something has to give in Atlanta. With one quarter of the 2019 season in the books, this has the potential to rank up there as one of the worst seasons in recent memory if this play keeps up at this pace.

“We can practice as good as we want to, we have to come out here and win the games,” defensive tackle Grady Jarrett said. “That’s the business that we’re in. We have to put a good product on the field and find a way to get the win. It’s unfortunate that we’re coming out on the wrong side of things the last couple of games, but I feel like it’s just the first quarter of our season. We still have a lot of stuff ahead of us, a lot of NFC play, lot of division play. It’s cliché at this point, but we’ve got to learn from our lessons that we’ve been going through as of late. We just have to get right.”

For the most part, the city of Atlanta has given up on the Falcons

Last December, the Falcons hosted the Arizona Cardinals in what was an absolute sad state of affairs when it came to attendance. Atlanta was 4-9 at the time, and a lot of the fans were checked out. In their minds, there was no incentive to go watch a team that had underperformed, which left open a lot of red seats in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Generally speaking, when a team is 1-2 after only three games, fans aren’t quitting on the team. But with 10 minutes to go before kickoff on Sunday, the scene looked almost exactly like it did for the Arizona game just 10 months ago. It had to have been an embarrassing look for owner Arthur Blank, who did not build a new stadium for it to be so poorly filled.

Two factors are at play, of course. The first, and biggest, is that it’s required for season-ticket holders to buy PSLs. This priced many former season-ticket holders out. On top of that, no single-game tickets are available through the team. For fans who want single-game tickets, they have to go to the secondary market to do so and pay more than what they used to, at least for when it comes to planning a trip to a game, days or weeks in advance.

In a city where the fans won’t come if your team isn’t any good, this was probably a bad idea in hindsight. It sets up for horrible optics such as what took place Sunday afternoon.

The other factor is, well, just that. After the thumping this team took in Minnesota to open the year, it seemed like much of the remaining outside excitement about this season died. Fan attendance wasn’t exceptional for the Philadelphia game, with plenty of green splattered throughout the stadium. Sunday’s game against Tennessee was just sad. Those who did show expressed their displeasure with audible booing.

“When you’re playing poorly, you’re not giving them much to cheer about, you get it,” quarterback Matt Ryan said. “We want to give them something to be loud about, to make those plays, to keep this place rocking. We didn’t do that today. We’ve got to find a way to make plays to get the energy in the building going.”

The Braves clinched the National League East and will begin the playoffs Thursday. Georgia appears to have a football team with great odds at a College Football Playoff run. With the Falcons performing as they have, and with their ticket structure the way that it is, it’s understandable to see why there were so many empty seats Sunday.

 

 

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When you start the season with the thud you introduce doubt.... to a fan base that had already checked out from the previous season.

Then the follow it up with an exciting game they almost lose... which really shouldn't have been close.

And then a disaster followed up with a worse disaster.

Make no mistake.  Quinn has lost the city.

Blank knows it.  Unless they start winning, convincingly, people will still be reluctant to come because they don't trust this team.

Only one way to excite this fan base for next year.  New coaching staff.  New GM won't move the meter. 

It all comes down to this.  'How is this team this bad all of a sudden?'

 

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The Falcons in 1987 were probably the worst I've ever seen. They were a city-wide joke. 

3-12.  That was a strike year, yes, but the strike didn't explain how bad this team was.  The Birds were dead last in scoring and dead last in points allowed (as in allowing the MOST points) in the entire NFL.  Worst at everything you could keep stats on.  

They lost games back then like 33-0 and 38-3.  

On the field so far, this 2019 team looks almost as inept.  

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This team currently sucks, the Team's history sucks, people are tired of this loser franchise and I do not blame them one bit. This team only excels into getting it's fanbase hyped up just to disappointment them in the spotlight.

After 53 years I'm sure most people have had enough of that crap.

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21 minutes ago, DawnOfThemBirds said:

 

Yeah, this team is bad. 1-3 based on how they lost those games is inexcusable.

 

At this pace, the Falcons could be looking at a top 5 pick. Maybe even top 3. Quinn will be gone if it gets to that point. Probably TD as well.

It’s looking bad. But I am hoping they get their **** together in next 2-3 weeks. Lock every one up and focus.

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30 minutes ago, falcons007 said:

He hit the nail on PSL, I was STH for 15 years. I just didn’t see the value with PSL. Heck I have endured some bad seasons in those 15 years but I would be kicking if I was paying the premium.

Speaking of PSL's, what would a MBS PSL sell for in the current market? One-tenth its original value? I don't know anything at all about how the Falcons help fans finance them, but Blank may have to form his own collection company to keep up with the volume of people refusing to pay any more of their PSL payments to watch this crap.

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51 minutes ago, falcons007 said:

He hit the nail on PSL, I was STH for 15 years. I just didn’t see the value with PSL. Heck I have endured some bad seasons in those 15 years but I would be kicking if I was paying the premium.

And the home TV experience is now too good to pass up on.  TV’s are so good now that watching live you feel you’re missing part of the game

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22 minutes ago, PokerSteve said:

Speaking of PSL's, what would a MBS PSL sell for in the current market? One-tenth its original value? I don't know anything at all about how the Falcons help fans finance them, but Blank may have to form his own collection company to keep up with the volume of people refusing to pay any more of their PSL payments to watch this crap.

My old rep called me. He gave me a yearly quote, Which had PSL included but no obligation to continue next year. I guess AB is tired of collections. 

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1 hour ago, Sun Tzu 7 said:

Unless they start winning, convincingly, people will still be reluctant to come because they don't trust this team.

I leave my house around 10:45 for a 1pm game to be sure I'm there at kick off. No way after these last 2 losses I can trust making that drive, etc and watch them play the way they played this past Sunday. I'm a fan to the end, but I'll stay home before I make that trek when they are playing like they don't care.

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35 minutes ago, falcons007 said:

My old rep called me. He gave me a yearly quote, Which had PSL included but no obligation to continue next year. I guess AB is tired of collections. 

Technically I think the PSL is a one time deal.  You can just finance it so it takes longer.

Sure you don't have to continue next year.  You might want to check the fine print on that.  Wouldn't be the first time a sales person says one thing but the legally binding contract says another.

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1 minute ago, Sun Tzu 7 said:

Technically I think the PSL is a one time deal.  You can just finance it so it takes longer.

Sure you don't have to continue next year.  You might want to check the fine print on that.  Wouldn't be the first time a sales person says one thing but the legally binding contract says another.

I meant part of it not all of PSL. And that was like 200 bucks a year, same folks paid 3-4 grand. After 5 years the PSL part is paid off. The PSL prices are down 75% and no obligation to pay rest.

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1 hour ago, PokerSteve said:

Speaking of PSL's, what would a MBS PSL sell for in the current market? One-tenth its original value? I don't know anything at all about how the Falcons help fans finance them, but Blank may have to form his own collection company to keep up with the volume of people refusing to pay any more of their PSL payments to watch this crap.

A PSL is an incredibly depreciating asset because for one it's not a traditional PSL.

If you have club seats where you get first rights to everything that comes into the stadium that's one thing.

Paying a PSL for only Falcon games is another.

Imagine buying a car but you're not buying a car.  You're buying the right to sit in the car 10 times a year.  Then you get to make the car payments, have no say in where the car is going or who is driving,  oh and you have to pay for the gas.  But you get cheap hot dogs and a t-shirt every now and then.

Maybe if you're lucky you can sucker sell it to someone else for maybe 1/3 of the price you paid.  

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