Quinn seeks solution to low-scoring Falcons’ 3-game skid
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Three straight losses have dropped the Falcons to .500 and in third place in the NFC South, prompting a “state of the team” address from coach Dan Quinn.
Quinn said “I’m not sure many of us slept” following Sunday night’s 23-7 loss at New England and late flight back to Atlanta. Even so, Quinn didn’t want to wait before using Monday’s team meeting to address key issues, including frustrations that have grown during the losing streak. The team’s offensive swoon is especially concerning.
Atlanta (3-3) will try to end the skid on Sunday at the New York Jets.
“It’s not where we expected to be, not where we want to be, but it’s where we are,” Quinn said. “Own that and how do we go about improving.”
The Falcons struggled in the red zone and on third down as they were held below 20 points for the third straight game. It’s a dramatic decline for an offense which led the NFL in scoring last season.
Quinn said he will devote practice time to the problems which led to only two third-down conversions in nine attempts and one touchdown in four red-zone possessions. Matt Bryant hit the upright on one field goal attempt and had another attempt blocked .
Quinn expected better results in the Super Bowl rematch against the Patriots’ defense, which ranked at the bottom of the league. He thought good practices the last two weeks and the return to good health of such players as starting wide receiver Mohamed Sanu would lead to an offensive recovery.
Instead, the Falcons were shut out until the fourth quarter, when Julio Jones’ TD catch ended the shutout.
“I was surprised we didn’t execute at the level I thought we would,” Quinn said.
Matt Ryan had solid numbers, completing 23 of 33 passes for 233 yards with one touchdown, but he took responsibility for too many missed opportunities.
“I always feel like you get what you earn in this league and that’s what we’ve earned so far,” Ryan said of the team’s record. “I feel like we can be a better football team but as players we’ve got to make our plays when we get the chances and that starts with me.”
Ryan described the three straight losses to Buffalo, Miami and New England as “a tale of inconsistency.”
“We’re not the team I think we’re going to be yet,” he said.
The offensive woes have come in the team’s first season with offensive coordinator Steve Sarkasian, who replaced Kyle Shanahan, now San Francisco’s coach.
Sarkasian’s most debated call was a fourth-down jet sweep to receiver Taylor Gabriel that lost five yards from the New England 1. Blocking breakdowns doomed the fourth-quarter play.
“As you look back to it, I definitely would rather have a better play for that,” Quinn said, adding he’d prefer to have a running back carry the ball.
“That was definitely one that I’m bummed where it went, how it went through,” he said. “If you had a call back, damn right you’d want to have that one back.”
The defending NFC champion Falcons suddenly trail New Orleans and Carolina in their division.
“We’re just re-setting right now,” outside linebacker DeVondre Campbell said Monday. “We can’t harden our hearts to the situation. ... We can’t get down on each other, no matter what.”
Quinn also doesn’t want his players to doubt themselves or the game-week process.
“When your process is right in terms of your preparation and putting the work in and studying and getting ready to play and you don’t execute, that can be a frustrating feeling,” he said. “But you’ve got to stay true to that process of getting ready.”
NOTES: Rookie LB Duke Riley was to have an MRI on his knee Monday. Quinn said there were no other injuries in the game that would jeopardize a player’s status for this week.
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