Jump to content

Falcons vs. Panthers: Do you go with the desperate team or the better team? - The Athletic


Recommended Posts

by Tori McElhaney and Joseph Person for The Athletic

 

The Falcons are 0-4, and you have to wonder what is going on with this team. The Panthers are 2-2 and better than what was expected. The two NFC South rivals face off Sunday in Atlanta and our two beat writers — Tori McElhaney (Falcons) and Joe Person (Panthers) — share their thoughts and break down the game.

Tori McElhaney: All right, let’s get started. I feel like if someone would have said that when Atlanta and Carolina met in Week 5 that one team would be 2-2 and the other would be 0-4, how many people do you think would have thought that it would be Carolina batting .500 and the Falcons with the goose egg considering everything that changed with Carolina this past year? Do you think that’s a fair assumption to make that many people counted Carolina out this year?

Joe Person: No doubt about it. This is a team that started fresh with just about everything but the mascot in the offseason. New head coach. New assistants. A team that turned over nearly 60 percent of its roster. And then Matt Rhule has to try to start implementing his system over Zoom. But, as you said: Here the Panthers are at 2-2 after back-to-back wins against the Los Angeles Chargers and Arizona Cardinals. Honestly, when the schedule came out in May, I thought the Panthers had a chance to grab a couple of wins early before the competition gets tougher. I’m not sure if that’s the case this weekend against Atlanta.

And while I want to get your take on Julio Jones, Todd Gurley and the rest, we can’t bury the lede here: Does Dan Quinn have a job Monday if the Panthers win?

McElhaney: I have said this before, and I will say it until the game ends Sunday afternoon: The Falcons are playing for Quinn’s job Sunday. I just don’t see any way around it. The Falcons’ fan base is so over this team, and you know Arthur Blank sees it. Heck, just look at the record if they lose: 0-5. We can’t chalk it up to it being a weird fluke that the Falcons had the start it did last year because it’s happening all over again this year. And the fan base isn’t as forgiving right now as it was at this time last year.

Speaking of Gurley, I am assuming you saw his quote postgame after the loss to Green Bay? “Let’s just start off by getting one ******* win” was his exact quote. Everyone from the top down is feeling this way in Atlanta right now. Gurley was just the one who had the backbone to actually say it.

So, if and when the time comes, I’ll take all the advice you can give me about covering a coaching change.

Person: Yeah, I went through this last year in Charlotte with Ron Rivera, whose fate was pretty much sealed when Cam Newton tried to avoid a sack in a preseason game at New England, interestingly, limped through the first two regular-season games and then shut it down before Lisfranc surgery in December. When things go bad in an NFL organization, it becomes such a toxic atmosphere that no one wants to be in the building, from the front office to the locker room. When that happens, owners have to make a change.

Who knows, maybe next year we’ll be covering Rhule vs. Joe Brady when these teams meet. I’m kidding (kinda).

McElhaney: I like that you added “kinda” to the “I’m kidding” because I’m “kinda” with you there. I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility that this actually does come to pass.

But we’re probably getting ahead of ourselves a bit. We still have a game to discuss!

I’ve gotten into this habit when I do these roundtables of asking the opponent’s beat writer about any injury updates they have that the Falcons’ fan base needs to be aware of. To be honest, the Falcons are so beat up that I have a fundamental thinking that every other team in the league is this injured, too. You brought up Jones earlier, and when I think of everyone, he’s the one I am most concerned about. Ricardo Allen, Keanu Neal, Takk McKinley and even Younghoe Koo were all out at practice Wednesday. A good sign for the Falcons for sure. Even A.J. Terrell who has been on the COVID-19 list the past two-ish weeks was out at practice Wednesday, but he has been activated off the COVID-19 list and could be in the lineup Sunday. Jones, however, was not as he continues to work through a hamstring issue that has been nagging him since Week 2. How are the Panthers shaping up to look on Sunday injury-wise?

Person: The Panthers are still without their best player as Christian McCaffrey continues to rehab his high ankle sprain. That’s obviously a big deal, although the Panthers remarkably are 2-0 without him and veteran running back Mike Davis has played well in his absence. It’s a good thing because now Reggie Bonnafon, their No. 3 back, is out with a high ankle sprain, too.

Aside from the running back position, the Panthers should be healthy for Sunday’s trip to the ATL. I was at Wednesday’s practice, and every player on their 53-man roster was in uniform. That’s interesting about Jones because, while the Panthers’ pass rush has improved, I still think an experienced quarterback with an elite receiver will cause problems for the secondary. Matt Ryan has gone 16-8 against the Panthers, completing 65.8 percent of his passes, with 39 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and a 97.0 passer rating. That’s not too shabby.

Obviously, Jones’ status will be big — the Panthers caught a break last week facing a clearly less-than-100 percent DeAndre Hopkins. But I think the Falcons’ offense is going to move the ball, regardless. The question is can the Atlanta defense stop anyone?

McElhaney: Ah yes, the question on everyone’s minds. Gosh, it has been bad, hasn’t it?

I wrote about this in my notebook after the loss to Green Bay that it just feels like the same issues every single week: These quarterbacks just march down the field without hardly any resistance at times. We spoke to Raheem Morris on Wednesday, and he talked at length about the secondary and its struggles. He was asked a few questions about miscommunication in the secondary because there was quite a bit of it Monday night against the Packers, but he seemed less worried about the way communication is working in coverage and more worried about the coverage itself, saying he felt like the main issues of the secondary come in the fact that these defensive backs can’t win any individual matchups right now. Getting Allen, Neal and Terrell back will be a good start in trying to rectify that, but even they struggled when they were all healthy, too.

So, who knows.

All we do know is that the defense ranks 31st in the league in points and total yards allowed per game. They aren’t getting many turnovers, only five through four games, and three of those came in the Dallas game. I just haven’t seen much of anything from this defense that warrants confidence in being able to stop an opponent’s offense once it gets rolling.

With that in mind, what is working for the Panthers’ offense that Atlanta should be worried about? What matchups do you think Carolina can take advantage of?

Person: Teddy Bridgewater isn’t always flashy, but he has been Steady Teddy in the passing game, spreading the ball around on mostly short- and intermediate-length throws. Brady has done a good job scheming the Panthers’ receivers open. On Bridgewater’s two short touchdown passes against the Cardinals, his receivers didn’t have anyone around them. So Brady vs. the Falcons’ suspect defense seems like one matchup to watch.

Another one could be the Panthers’ tight ends vs. an Atlanta secondary that has given up a lot of yards to tight ends. Except the Panthers’ tight ends are about the only players who haven’t done much in the Brady offense.

Wideout Robby Anderson is another player to keep an eye on. The former New York Jets speedster has overtaken DJ Moore as the Panthers’ leading receiver. And while that can change based on the defensive looks and coverage concepts, Anderson clearly has the trust of Bridgewater, his workout buddy during quarantine throwing sessions in Miami.

All right, Tori, the moment of truth: Who are you taking?

McElhaney: I am taking Atlanta. And I am going with Atlanta just because I believe the Falcons are going into this game absolutely knowing they have to win for Dan Quinn. For what it’s worth, it doesn’t seem like Quinn has ever lost the locker room. The players we have spoken to since the second loss of the season have pointed the finger at themselves, not Quinn or his coaching staff. Many of them have said they need to be better for this staff. So, if that’s the case, now’s the time to prove it.

It’s one of the oldest clichés in the book: do or die, right? Well, here you go Atlanta. This is that moment. What about you? Who are you taking?

Person: Atlanta has been a house of horrors (gratuitous Halloween plug) for the Panthers through the years, be it at the Georgia Dome or Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Since clinching the NFC South at the Dome in 2014, the Panthers have lost five in a row in Atlanta and are 6-19 there overall. But Rhule and Bridgewater didn’t lose any of those games. And home-field advantage is muted this year.

A desperate team is a dangerous team, but I’m going with the better team. Panthers 34, Falcons 31.

 

 

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

There is absolutely no way DQ can out coach Matt Rhule.  That said, both the Falcons and Panthers are rough trade so it could really go either way.  Who makes the most mistakes this weekend?

Personally I think we split this series.  But I'd love to see a W.

If you need me, I'll be drinking.

I also think they better not give up a 100 yards to penalties.  Nothing like helping the other team needlessly.  As far as this do it for the Kipper crap, saving Dan Quinn's job.  Been there and done that... we are where we were last year but worse.  Last year going into week 5 we were 1-3.  This year we are 4 games in and still have not figured out how to win.

This is how Dan Quinn and the "ATL's" play.  Since pre season was nil and void, its even worse.

There should be no excuse to keep TD or DQ after this season.  For you folk that think 10-6 is possible... I say join a 12 step program.  

Link to post
Share on other sites

29. Atlanta Falcons (0-4)

Week 4 ranking: 26

FPI chance to make playoffs: 4.5%

22. Carolina Panthers (2-2)

Week 4 ranking: 29

FPI chance to make playoffs: 17.9%

Yeah we might win.  But we have a tendency for a crash and burn style of play.  

Here is our future

9. New Orleans Saints (2-2)

Week 4 ranking: 10

FPI chance to make playoffs: 70.8%

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1)

Week 4 ranking: 12

FPI chance to make playoffs: 87.3%

Note the percent chances to make the playoffs... we right now have almost no chance.  At least as far as talking heads and computer models...

So much for better team.  Maybe we can pump extra crowd noise in... lol

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, theDIRTYcode said:

Dawgs have a walk on QB. Falcons have a HOF.

 

Go Dawgs.

Might be a hall of famer... might be good for fantasy football stats but in the real world as of lately?  He has trouble putting the W in the win column... and that is where it counts.  I have been a huge Matty Ryan supporter but show me the Wins in the win column.  

Edited by Realsurfin
Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Realsurfin said:

Might be a hall of famer... might be good for fantasy football stats but in the real world as of lately?  He has trouble putting the W in the win column... and that is where it counts.  I have been a huge Matty Ryan supporter but show me the Wins in the win column.  

Show him a defense and you just might get those Ws.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...