1. BIG COACHING CHALLENGE: Falcons coach Dan Quinn and his coaching staff face their first major challenge of the season on Sunday.
Quinn got the Falcons off to a 5-0 start, despite not playing particularly sound football.
Now, they’ve hit a rough patch of four games and have dropped three of them.
There’s been shaky play (turnovers), shaky play-calling (Where’s Roddy?) and a bad decision to kick a field goal, when they needed a touchdown to take the lead against San Francisco. Not trying to take the lead from the 1-plus yard line and throwing passes behind the sticks on third downs are cardinal sins in the Cover9@9 football book.
We’ll get to see if Quinn and his staff can rally the troops after their first back-to-back losses.
“I think it’s about getting better moving forward,” Quinn said. “But some of the things we did early on, that we were really successful at, let’s make sure we’re really true to those.
“That was the good part about the bye week. We have a big playbook offensively, defensively. Let’s make sure we are finding the things that we do really well and emphasize and stress those things as often as we can.”
2. RYAN ON THE NO-HUDDLE: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan believes the team can use the no-huddle more as a weapon to try to revive the offense, which has scored just 16.7 points over the past four games.
Ryan was asked by Brian Finneran on his weekly radio show on 680 The Fan on Tuesday if we should expect to see more no-huddle starting Sunday against Colts.
“Yeah, we’ll see,” Ryan said. “I think it’s one of the things that we have the ability to do and we work on it. Probably not as much as we did in the past because it was a bigger point of emphasis for us on offense.”
Ryan was taught the no-huddle as a rookie by former offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey and quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave. He’s used in deftly over his career and with offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.
“We have the ability to do it and it’s something that we’ve practice,” Ryan said. “I feel like if it comes up, it’s something that we’re going to be prepared for and we’re going to do really well.”
3. RYAN ON ADJUSTMENTS: Former Falcons linemen Mike Johnson asked Ryan if team’s have successfully adjusted to new offense.
“I think, not so much in the San Francisco game, I really think we did not play very well in that game,” Ryan said. “I think when you look at probably the last four weeks, we’ve been sloppier across the board. Not as detailed as we’ve needed to be.
“Whether if it’s protecting the football or turning it the football over. Whether if it’s procedural penalties that you mentioned, those things get you off schedule very quickly. I think that’s something that we haven’t done really well, probably over the past four or five weeks. Hopefully, that’s something we’ll do a lot better. Certainly, defenses will make adjustments and give us some different looks.
“I always like to look in the mirror. I think it’s on us and what we do.”
4. HANKERSON UPDATE: Falcons wide receiver Leonard Hankerson looked good running his routes on Monday.
“Hank had limited reps, but on the ones that he did, he had a couple of good catches on some deep balls and some comebacks,” Quinn said. “He’s an important guy for us.”
5. FALCONS’ PENALTY REPORT: The Falcons have committed 73 penalties through nine games, which is the 13th fewest in league.
The Falcons need to clean up their penalties issues, which include 22 holding penalties and 20 pre-snap penalties, because they need victories over two of the least penalized teams in the league in Carolina and Minnesota.
A total of 63 of the Falcons’ penalties have been accepted for 615 yards. Eight have been declined and two were offsetting.
The Falcons have had 32 penalties at home and 31 on the road.
Here’s a look at the Falcons’ penalty report:
Player, Penatly, Yards
Andy Levitre, 7 – 55
Ryan Schraeder, 5 – 35
Vic Beasley, 5 – 20
Robert Alford, 4 -97
Desmond Trufant, 4 -47
Levine Toilolo, 4-40
Roddy White, 4-35
Ricardo Allen, 3-30
Jake Matthews, 3-25
Phillip Adams, 3-21
Chris Chester, 2-20
Adrian Clayborn, 2-20
Ra’Shede Hageman, 2-17
Leonard Hankerson, 2-17
Kemal Ishmael, 2-10
Jacob Tamme, 2-10
O’Brien Schofield, 2-8
Nathan Stupar, 2-5
Kroy Biermann, 2-3
Devonta Freeman, 1-15
Philip Wheeler, 1-15
Paul Worrilow, 1-13
Charles Godfrey, 1-10
Josh Harris, 1-10
James Stone, 1-10
Julio Jones, 1-6
Matt Bosher, 1-5
Bryce Harris, 1-5
Paul Soliai, 1-5
William Moore, 1-1
Mike Person, 1-0
SOURCE: NFL Game Statistics Information System.
6. RED ZONE WOES: We were tipped about shortly after Kyle Shanahan was hired that his offenses had a tendency to stall in the redzone. But with an established quarterback like Matt Ryan things figured to be different in Atlanta.
While the overall redzone numbers are decent and in the top half of the league, there’s been a drastic dip.
The Falcons are 20 of 33 in the red zone (60.6 percentage, 10th in the league). The Falcons had 10 touchdowns in 13 red zone possessions (76.9 percent) in the first four games and were 16 for 22 (72.7 percent) in the first six games. But in the last three games — a 10-7 win over Tennessee and losses to Tampa Bay (23-20) and San Francisco (17-16) – the Falcons reached the end zone only four times in 11 possessions (36.4 percent).
The breakdown: four field goals, three turnovers and four touchdowns.
7. COLTS DEFENSE IS SOFT: The numbers suggest that the Colts’ defense is as soft as a marshmallow.
The Falcons’ offense should be able to get well against a Colts defense that is ranked in the lower half of the league in the four key categories – total yards (394.2 yards, 28th in the league), scoring defense (25.2 points, 22nd), passing yards (279.3, 28th) and rushing yards (114.9, 22nd).
The Colts are 30th in league with 13 sacks.
8. FALCONS’ 32ND IN SACKS: The Giants recorded three sacks last week to move in front of the Falcons with 12 sacks. The Falcons dropped to last place (32nd) in the league with 10 sacks.
9. OFFICIAL DEPTH CHART: The team’s depth chart in the weekly release.
WR 11 Julio Jones, 85 Leonard Hankerson, 16 Justin Hardy
LT 70 Jake Matthews, 75 Jake Long
LG 67 Andy Levitre, 62 James Stone
C 68 Mike Person, 66 Gino Gradkowski
RG 65 Chris Chester, 62 James Stone
RT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 72 Bryce Harris
TE 83 Jacob Tamme, 80 Levine Toilolo, 81 Tony Moeaki
WR 84 Roddy White, 14 Eric Weems, 15 Nick Williams
QB 2 Matt Ryan, 12 Sean Renfree
RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 26 Tevin Coleman, 33 Terron Ward
FB 42 Patrick DiMarco
DE 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 99 Adrian Clayborn, 71 Kroy Biermann
DT 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 97 Grady Jarrett
NT 96 Paul Soliai, 95 Jonathan Babineaux
DE 94 Tyson Jackson, 93 Malliciah Goodman
LB 52 Justin Durant, 51 Philip Wheeler, 59 Joplo Bartu
LB 55 Paul Worrilow, 54 Nate Stupar
LB 50 O’Brien Schofield, 56 Brooks Reed
CB 23 Robert Alford, 32 Jalen Collins
CB 21 Desmond Trufant, 20 Phillip Adams, 28 Akeem King
S 37 Ricardo Allen, 27 Robenson Therezie
S 25 Wiliam Moore, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 30 Charles Godfrey
K 3 Matt Bryant
KO 5 Matt Bosher
P 5 Matt Bosher
KR 14 Eric Weems, 15 Nick Williams
PR 14 Eric Weems, 15 Nick Williams
LS 47 Josh Harris
H 5 Matt Bosher
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter and CineSport’s Noah Coslov talk about the challenges the Colts (4-5) will present this week against the Falcons (6-3) and the team’s offensive game plan on Sunday.
Here’s how the Falcons achieved their 6-3 start
Here’s a look back at the game stories, news and notes from the Falcons’17-16 loss to San Francisco, the 23-20 overtime loss to Tampa Bay, win over the Titans (10-7), loss to the Saints (31-21) and their victories over the Redskins (25-19 in OT), Texans (48-21), Cowboys (39-28), Giants (24-20) and Eagles (26-24).
SAN FRANCISCO GAME COVERAGE — 49ERS 17, Falcons 16
TAMPA BAY GAME COVERAGE — Bucs 23, Falcons 20 in OT
TENNESSEE GAME COVERAGE — Falcons 10, Titans 7
NEW ORLEANS GAME COVERAGE — Saints 31, Falcons 21
WASHINGTON GAME COVERAGE — Falcons 25, Redskins 19 in OT
TEXANS GAME COVERAGE — Falcons 48, Texans 21
COWBOYS GAME COVERAGE — Falcons 39, Cowboys 28
GIANTS GAME COVERAGE — Falcons 24, Giants 20
EAGLES GAME COVERAGE — FALCONS 26, EAGLES 24