FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – With five regular-season games left to play and a playoff berth still in play, Falcons coach Dan Quinn identified three areas he wants his team to improve in.
1. Win the turnover margin
The Falcons sit at minus-2 in the turnover margin right now and Quinn wants his team to be on the plus side of this statistic.
"If we can do a better job of creating takeaways, forcing fumbles, recovering fumbles, the interceptions, to push us up into the plus, I thought that would be a real factor," Quinn said. "Offensively and in the return teams, the same thing – can they make sure we're owning it at a level to our standard."
The Falcons' defense has recorded nine interceptions and one forced fumble. Damontae Kazee has six of the Falcons' nine interceptions, which also leads the league. Prior to the loss to the Browns in Week 10, the Falcons' offense had been excellent in not turning the ball over. Of the Falcons seven fumbles, five have occurred in the last three games. Two of Matt Ryan's five interceptions have also occurred in that time span as well.
2. Run game needs to become a consistent factor
The one area that's not been up to the Falcons' standard offensively has been the run game. Atlanta has the 31st-ranked rushing attack in the league. Being able to run the ball effectively is a big part of what the Falcons want to do offensively because of what it can do for their passing game. The Falcons rely heavily on the play-action part of their offense and without a productive performance on the ground, it's hard for that area to come to life. Coming off a season-low 26 rushing yards against the Saints, Quinn said they will look at everything, including a possibly change to the lineup on the offensive line.
"I thought for our run offense to provide that balance that we need to make the play-action go to add to the toughness that we want," Quinn said.
3. Stop the run
The Falcons have the 25th-ranked rushing defense, giving up an average of 123.7 yards per game. According to Quinn, it's not a matter of if his team has the talent to shut down running backs, it's about being more discipline in their run fits and gap control.
"Defensively we stack the box and the times that we've gotten into trouble is when we lost gap control," Quinn said. "It's not a question of being stout enough or strong enough, it's when we've gotten out of our gap and one guy does it wrong and there's not another guy there to knock it over."
Under Quinn, the Falcons don't look any further than what's right in front of them and that's the Ravens. At this point, it's about stacking wins and all the focus turns to getting a win against Baltimore at home.
And if the Falcons are able to shore up these three areas of their game, they give themselves the best chance to do just that.
"If we do those then down the line we would look a lot better," Quinn said. "What I also told the team, those are the three things that we'll put our focus on and continue to come back each week and talk about."