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Falcons are a cartoon, and Raheem Morris shows he can’t fix them - The Athletic


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by Jeff Schultz for The Athletic

 

This is written with no expectation that the Falcons were ever going to give serious consideration to giving interim coach Raheem Morris the permanent job. Because if there’s one thing owner Arthur Blank doesn’t want, or need, right now, it’s continuity. Or heartburn.

But the Falcons’ latest cartoonish collapse in an apparently not-nearly-over-yet-series of such faceplants — a 23-22 loss to Detroit that will be saved with others in a 2020 time capsule, just to prove it wasn’t pure imagination like Lochness or Elvis in a Waffle House — affirms two things:

1) The problem wasn’t just Dan Quinn.

2) OH MY GOD, THERE ARE MORE WAYS TO LOSE!

What to say about:

• Morris managed to be in position to win the game despite an earlier series of blunders. But he failed to direct his offense to take a knee to bleed the clock in the final minute as a setup before a potential chipshot field goal to win it. Instead, he let offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter tell quarterback Matt Ryan to call a running play to Todd Gurley. Ryan, skipping a chance to defend that decision, said later, “Not through my helmet, no,” (as in, that’s not the play that came in).

• The Falcons’ defense, until recently coordinated by Morris, botched 19- and 16-point leads in the final minutes of two losses. This time it allowed the mediocre Lions to drive 75 yards in the final 1:04 to complete another self-immolation.

• Gurley was told to NOT score a touchdown from the Detroit 12 because it would stop the clock and leave the Lions time to come back. What did he do? He scored. Said he tried to stop at the 1-yard line but couldn’t. So instead of bleeding the clock before an easy field goal to win the game, the Falcons took a 22-16 lead but gave the ball back to Matthew Stafford with a minute remaining.

Think about that: The Falcons can’t even NOT SCORE right.

Gurley said he was, “mad as ****.”

Also, just to dispel the rumor, he added: “We’re not trying to lose.”

Also … here we go …

“It is what it is. I should’ve went down,” he said. “Ah **** it, I should’ve scored. I shouldn’t have scored, I mean. God ******.”

It’s OK, Todd. This is all kind of confusing.

This cartoon just never ends. “Ah, F– It” is a good working title for the season.

This team doesn’t just need a new coach and general manager. It needs a brainwashing. Players, even quite capable or previously successful ones like Gurley, seemingly have been programmed for disaster.

Bill Belichick is not walking through that door. Morris and this team just keep walking into it.

The Falcons let Chicago score three touchdowns in the final six and a half minutes. They blew another late lead the following week against Dallas after failing to remember that, as the (intended) receiving team, they’re allowed to recover an onside kick before the ball rolls 10 yards. Then the Falcons did … what exactly against Detroit?

Morris’ first game as Quinn’s replacement was an impressive win in Minnesota. Anybody who believed that would signal a turnaround hasn’t been paying attention. What we witnessed Sunday — this is reality.

Ask if the game and the finish should reflect on him as the coach, Morris deflected: “We have a 1-0 mentality. We’re right back in that mentality. Let’s go back to work.”

Great. More bumper stick platitudes.

A look at some of Morris’ miscues in an easily winnable game:

• Early fourth quarter. Falcons led 14-13. They had a fourth-and-5 at the Lions’ 13, a logical field goal situation to go up by four points. Morris decided to go for it, and Ryan had his pass attempt for Ito Smith tipped and fall incomplete. Morris: “Just being aggressive. Obviously looking back, you wish we had taken the three.” Obviously.

• Next drive: Morris took a longshot challenge on an 18-yard sideline pass to the Lions’ Kenny Golladay. The catch was upheld. Morris lost the challenge and a potentially crucial timeout in the fourth quarter of a one-point game.

• Same drive: Detroit lost 1 yard on a third-and-1 running play, but the Falcons were penalized for 12 players on the field when Deion Jones couldn’t run off the field in time before the snap. That’s on the coaching staff. As it turned out, the Lions’ missed a field goal try on the possession.

• After Detroit took a 16-14 lead with three minutes remaining, Ryan quickly drove the Falcons from their own 24 to the Detroit 21. Atlanta ran three plays, forcing the Lions to exhaust their final two timeouts. The Falcons were in easy field goal range at the 10. At that point, Morris should have had Ryan take a knee to run the clock down to one or two seconds. Instead, Koetter called for the run. Gurley said he intended to stop at the 1, but momentum carried him into the end zone. The Falcons had the lead, but the clock stopped at 1:04. “Obviously we didn’t want him to score,” Julio Jones said of Gurley. But if Morris called the kneel down, it never would have come to that.

•  The final defensive collapse: also on Morris. Until last week, he was the defensive coordinator, and he’s calling the shots. How, with one play left in the game from the 11-yard line, did tight end T.J. Hockenson break wide open in the end zone for an easy throw from Stafford. (Linebackers Foyesade Oluokun and Deion Jones looked at each other.)

“Obviously we’re giving y’all something that y’all have never seen before,” Gurley said.

Another match was thrown on another box of dynamite in another cartoon.

Are you laughing?

“We have to be better finishers,” Morris said.

Actually, these games have featured great finishes. It’s just hard to imagine one team can find so many different ways to lose.

 

 

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56 minutes ago, Falcons Fan MVP said:

It was one game. The Falcons could take this loss and go on a winning streak. I think that 7 or 8 wins is our ceiling but Davidson coming back could possibly help our D.

I hereby certify that henceforth you shall be known on this board as

-

image.png.43182ebed920398c4ed766554a81de76.png

Cause you're the only person with any faith left in this awful team. 

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45 minutes ago, Falcons Fan MVP said:

He didn't pick the players or the coordinators. Raheem has the right to be interviewed and explain to Arthur Blank his long term plan to fix the Falcons.

No, he doesn't deserve anything. He hasn't earned a chance. He wasn't a good HC the first time around, and although there have been others that became great HC's the second time around, they had success as a coordinator/HC somewhere along the line. RM has been a terrible coordinator, and he needs to hit the road.

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1 hour ago, dardan said:

The league is Bugs Bunny and we're Daffy Duck.

More like Wile E. Coyote.   We almost catch the Roadrunner before falling off the cliff, getting hit by the train, exploding, etc.  All we need is a box marked “Acme Game Blower” on the sideline. 

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Schultz is typically lazy here.  So much there that is just completely unfair.  He ties Morris' defenses to this loss, failing to acknowledge that the defense has looked really good 2 games in a row with the sole exception of that final drive yesterday.  He clowns them for Gurley scoring when he was supposedly told not to.  The reality of that is you're asking a lot of a RB to call a run play and then have him take a dive short of the goal line to burn clock.  If that's what they wanted, the play should never have come in to run the ball in the first place.  That falls on Morris, but it isn't quite the clown show Schultz makes it out to be. The truth is, the defense should have stopped them anyway.  Field goals are hardly gimmes in the NFL, less so with Koo than perhaps with some other kickers.

He endorses the 12 men on the field penalty against Jones without acknowledging it was a bad call.  Blames Morris for that too.  

It's just lazy and dumb.  Typically so.

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3 hours ago, Falcons Fan MVP said:

He didn't pick the players or the coordinators. Raheem has the right to be interviewed and explain to Arthur Blank his long term plan to fix the Falcons.

First things first.  He needs to explain his in-game decisions.  Because, in my opinion, if you can't handle pretty obvious decisions, how can you be expected to handle the more complex job of re-building a team?

I feel for Morris.  I really do.  But hey, we have been subjected to years of Quinn's boneheaded decisions and now we are supposed to sit back patiently and allow Morris to learn from these experiences.  

I am sorry, but this coaching staff was put together by Dan Quinn, and it is obvious that he hired people at his level and none higher.  A coaching staff of morons.  Thanks Dan 

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3 hours ago, JDaveG said:

Schultz is typically lazy here.  So much there that is just completely unfair.  He ties Morris' defenses to this loss, failing to acknowledge that the defense has looked really good 2 games in a row with the sole exception of that final drive yesterday.  He clowns them for Gurley scoring when he was supposedly told not to.  The reality of that is you're asking a lot of a RB to call a run play and then have him take a dive short of the goal line to burn clock.  If that's what they wanted, the play should never have come in to run the ball in the first place.  That falls on Morris, but it isn't quite the clown show Schultz makes it out to be. The truth is, the defense should have stopped them anyway.  Field goals are hardly gimmes in the NFL, less so with Koo than perhaps with some other kickers.

He endorses the 12 men on the field penalty against Jones without acknowledging it was a bad call.  Blames Morris for that too.  

It's just lazy and dumb.  Typically so.

Not really sure what you're basing this on.

Koo is actually tied with Graham Gano for the best FG% in the entire NFL. He's 15 of 16 (93.8%) and the one miss came from beyond 40 yards out.

So, Morris had not one, but two chances in the game to do the smart thing & go for what should be an easy FG... but he screwed up the call both times. There's definitely a bit of piling on going on by Schultz in the article. but to be fair, if Morris just does the smart thing & sends Koo out for a chip shot FG when it was 4th & 5, it's likely that all of the buffoonery which followed becomes moot. Morris made a boneheaded decision that directly put them in position to continue making boneheaded decisions. He cost the team this game, and he deserves criticism for that... especially if he wants anyone to believe he's the right guy for this... or any... HCing job long-term.

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3 minutes ago, k-train said:

Not really sure what you're basing this on.

Koo is actually tied with Graham Gano for the best FG% in the entire NFL. He's 15 of 16 (93.8%) and the one miss came from beyond 40 yards out.

So, Morris had not one, but two chances in the game to do the smart thing & go for what should be an easy FG... but he screwed up the call both times. There's definitely a bit of piling on going on by Schultz in the article. but to be fair, if Morris just does the smart thing & sends Koo out for a chip shot FG when it was 4th & 5, it's likely that all of the buffoonery which followed becomes moot. Morris made a boneheaded decision that directly put them in position to continue making boneheaded decisions. He cost the team this game, and he deserves criticism for that... especially if he wants anyone to believe he's the right guy for this... or any... HCing job long-term.

Thank you for bringing the Koo accuracy. Everyone is acting like he is a trash kicker. I think it is the few extra points he missed sticking out in everyone's mind. However he has been very accurate as a field goal kicker.

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13 minutes ago, montanaman71 said:

Thank you for bringing the Koo accuracy. Everyone is acting like he is a trash kicker. I think it is the few extra points he missed sticking out in everyone's mind. However he has been very accurate as a field goal kicker.

Considering his holder is a rookie punter who had a shortened offseason & zero preseason games to get acclimated, and the two missed XPs came in the first 3 weeks of the season, I'm not even sure how much of that should be on Koo. Maybe the one in the Chicago game could have been related to his injury since he did sit out the following week.

But yeah, despite the common narrative around these parts, Koo has been a very solid kicker thus far.

He finished top 10 in FG % last year, and is tied for 1st so far this season. Not too shabby.

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