Who knows what to make of the Atlanta Falcons, who now sit at 1-3.
They have an offense capable of being explosive, much like they were in the second half against the Colts, and a defense that can harass the quarterback and force turnovers, similar to what they did in the win against the Eagles.
Yet those highs have been the exception to the start of the 2019 season, not the rule. The Falcons haven't played a complete game through the first quarter of the NFL slate, and they've been plagued by mistakes and early deficits. Falcons coach Dann Quinn doesn't want to hear about the talent the Falcons possess, he is focused only on what the record shows.
"Our record says we're 1-3. I certainly don't feel like we're a 1-3 team, but that's where we are and that's who we are," Quinn said. "Until we change that, that's the attitude we should have. It's not enough to say we're pissed off. We've got to see it meeting rooms, practice field, and especially come Sunday."
Following the team's 24-10 loss to the Titans on Sunday, Quinn said his team was "pissed" with their start through the first four games of the season. The Falcons scored a touchdown in the first quarter for the first time this year against the Titans but managed just three more points despite stringing together several promising drives.
Defensively, Atlanta did a commendable job containing Derrick Henry, but Marcus Mariota tossed three touchdown passes. Mariota, who has yet to throw an interception, was as protective of the football as he has been all season.
That's something Quinn wants to see changed. An ability to force turnovers is one of the key elements of the style Quinn is looking for in a defense. The Falcons have forced just three turnovers, all of which came against the Eagles, and their minus-five turnover margin is the second-worst mark in the league. It's no wonder why that matter is so pressing even as other areas require attention.
"I would say the things that keep me up at night is the limited amount of takeaways we forced, only three in four games," Quinn said. "… To be at a minus-5 in a turnover margin in any quarter, that's not a good recipe for playing good ball."
Quinn says he doesn't have one clear answer for the slow starts, miscues and technical lapses, but the staff is working hard at finding a solution. Both players and coaches have stated they've felt good about the level of preparation taking place during each week.
This early adversity has Quinn's attention, but it isn't undermining his conviction. He believes the problems are correctable and don't stem from something philosophically off with the team's approach. Quinn has proven the effectiveness of his message before, and he sees another chance to do so.
"No, I wouldn't say that at all," Quinn said. "I would say you get to prove in these moments, coaches and players, when it's not going right. From a philosophical standpoint, I don't think anyone would say there's an issue or scheme off philosophically. We're clear on the style we want to play. Just because we haven't played to the style doesn't mean it's less impactful. If anything, we want to make sure we stay true to those beliefs because we know, when we play like that, what we're capable of."