Dan Quinn’s first loss to the Green Bay Packers in his head coaching career also happened to cement his first losing season since taking control of the team in 2015.
Though Arthur Blank said in no uncertain terms that Quinn would be safe following the conclusion of the regular season, the team’s embarrassing 34-20 loss to the Packers may change that.
The score indicates the game to be considerably closer than it was. After taking a 7-0 lead on the game’s opening drive, the Falcons allowed thirty-four unanswered points before scoring two meaningless touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Even Matt Bryant was off, missing a field goal and an extra point in the contest. Those weren’t the only times the Falcons cost themselves points; they also lost a fumble in the red zone late in the game on a fluke snap that hit Mohamed Sanu’s leg as he ran across the backfield in motion.
Matt Ryan was far from perfect, throwing a pick-six from his own fourteen-yard line to Bashaud Breeland in the first half and racking up the bulk of his 262 passing yards after the game was long since lost. Aaron Rodgers threw for less than 200 yards against the banged-up Falcons defense, though he didn’t need to throw the ball much after halftime.
It’s the third week in a row that the Falcons offense came out absolutely flat, and they haven’t scored more than twenty since their 38-14 victory over the Redskins in week nine.
Steve Sarkisian, who looked to have found his NFL footing early in the season, may not even have a job in Atlanta by the end of the season. The once-dominant Falcons offense has been puzzling at best and dismal at worst here in the latter half of the season, in large part due to a lack of firepower in their rushing attack.
Today, however, the Falcons rushed for 107 yards and it still made no difference. Tevin Coleman, who is in the final year of his rookie contract, has been all but usurped by Ito Smith as the team’s lead ballcarrier. Smith was one of few bright spots for the Falcons today, adding sixty yards on eleven carries.
Also a bright spot was Julio Jones, who tallied two touchdowns on eight catches with 106 yards. Jones is up to five touchdowns on the season, an improvement over his career-low of three last season.
While it’s clear that there is substantial talent on the Falcons roster, they’ve been one of the worst teams in the league this season thanks to injuries and poor coaching. They can take solace in the fact that they aren’t the only team in the NFC South to have lost five straight, however, with the Carolina Panthers having completely unraveled after a 6-2 start to the season.
The Falcons take on the Panthers in two weeks before closing the season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Next week they host the Arizona Cardinals, who actually defeated the Packers in Lambeau last week, ending Mike McCarthy’s tenure with the team.
If the Cardinals manage to stomp the Falcons in their final home game of the year, could it signal a premature exit for members of the coaching staff?
One can only hope.