Once a group of the undefeated for quite some time, the Atlanta Falcons have gone on to lose five of their last six games, and seem to be at a loss at how to stop the turnovers, the penalties and the losing.
The Falcons started the season 5-0 but after a loss to the New Orleans Saints in week 6 things started crumbling for them. Matt Ryan had four games with 0 interceptions through the first six of the season, but in the last five games has had just one without one, and overall is at 12 already this season compared to just 16 touchdown passes. Devonta Freeman scored 10 touchdowns through that Saints game, but in the following performances has just one out of four appearances, coming off a reception.
The Falcons have now held a players-only meeting, which happens in sports when things go really bad, although head coach (first year at the job) Dan Quinn was informed about it happening. The offense was supposed to be the more manageable part for the Falcons this season, relying on the Ryan-Julio Jones connection (94 receptions, 1245 yards, 6 touchdowns) and while his numbers have remained impressive, it’s harder and harder to get into the end zone for him.
Publicly, Ryan is blaming himself for the 13 turnovers in the last seven games, but behind closed doors, rumors suggest he and the offense have an issue with Kyle Shanahan and the offensive schemes, which have been scaled back over the last few weeks, which hasn’t changed things. The Falcons got beaten by the Vikings 20-10, and haven’t scored more than 21 points in six consecutive games, falling to 14th in the NFL with 23.6 points per game.
One big problem for them is the remaining schedule. Because of their two remaining games against the Carolina Panthers, they’re listed as the NFC team with the most difficult set of remaining games, which includes road games in Tampa Bay (5-6) and Tennessee (2-9), while the season ends with home games against Carolina and the worst defense in the league, New Orleans. A loss in the next game, at Tampa Bay, might suggest that the players meeting didn’t work, or that the season is truly over, and there’s no coming back from the terrible fall they’ve entered.