FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The Falcons have reached the midway point of their season and sit at 4-4 with five more divisional games to play.
By no means has the story of the Falcons' 2017 season been written yet, coach Dan Quinn said was the message he told his team on Monday during their team meeting. But after eight games, there are a few significant areas Quinn wants his team to clean up – one of them being penalties.
Penalties have plagued the Falcons all season.
Whether it be penalties that affect the yardage in which Atlanta begins their offensive drives, penalties extending plays for opponents' offenses which keeps the Falcons' defense on the field or backing Atlanta's offense up, forcing them into third-and-long situations.
In the Falcons' four losses, Atlanta has racked up a total of 24 penalties for 228 yards, with eight of those coming on Sunday in their 20-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
"It's the pre-snap ones that we're in complete control over, a jump offsides, a neutral zone infraction extending a third down," Quinn said. "That's a real penalty, or from a defensive standpoint where the result of the penalty is a first down."
So how do the Falcons fix this issue moving forward?
Being more consistent in their technique, Quinn said.
"Yesterday we had a sack by Adrian Clayborn to knock them back, [but] we had a defensive holding," Quinn said. "That's a big play. It goes from going to be a long distance to convert to a first down. Those are small examples of, 'Man, really stay consistent in our technique.' What I shared with the team is consistency is really the key ingredient in being great at anything, and if you can keep doing it over and over and doing it right over and over, it'll work out. When those little bumps come where it's not as consistent, with the example of a penalty, that's where it sets you back."
The Falcons have also had two returns from Andre Roberts negated due to penalties on special teams.
Atlanta will continue to stay aggressive in all three phases of the game, but Quinn is looking for his team to cut down on the ones they can control.
"Then the last part is the penalties that we think we can control and the unforced ones," Quinn said. "A neutral zone infraction or jumping offsides offensively, we can control those. We've got lots of work to do."