FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The Falcons (5-9) have officially been eliminated from playoff contention. So with two games remaining on the schedule, there's one question that's natural for fans to have:
What's more important, winning or evaluating the depth of the roster in game situations?
For Falcons coach Dan Quinn, the evaluations have always been an important part of his approach, but they won't become any more important over the remaining two games.
"Not any more than it has then been," Quinn said. "If a player is really showing that they deserve more playing time due to the way they're practicing, a guy like Ty Sambrailo, who's earned more playing time due to that, then that would be the case. But, past that, we're going to attack and go after the game in every way that we can."
Sambrailo has started the past two games for the Falcons after replacing Ryan Schraeder as the right tackle spot. In both of his games as a starter Atlanta has gained over 100 yards on the ground and done a better job keeping Matt Ryan upright.
Although the Falcons are focused on winning the remaining two games on their schedule, there does seem to be a willingness to try different combinations on the field. Quinn said Monday that linebacker Bruce Irvin was a player who the staff intentionally wanted to see in a few different situations.
That increased playing time paid off as Irvin recorded 1.5 sacks and three hits on the quarterback.
While there may not be a wholesale changing of the starting lineups over the coming weeks to get better evaluations on the roster, Quinn has not been shy about saying he is watching his team closely as they close out the season.
But he made it clear Monday: The Falcons aren't throwing in the towel to get tape on guys.
"We're always looking to see what tweaks we can [make] from an evaluation standpoint to say, 'What would this look like,'" Quinn said. "But nothing bigger than just getting ready to play at our best this weekend."