FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Many fans and pundits have attempted to find one specific reason the Falcons' offense took a step back in 2017 after their historic year in 2016, but it's not that simple.
While many wrongly pointed the finger at first-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, the Falcons had nearly triple the number of dropped passes last season than they did the year before, and fans grew increasingly frustrated with them as the season wore on.
They weren't the only ones.
"If you thought you were mad, you should have been in some of these meetings," Quinn told 92.9 The Game's Rick Kamla and John Michaels on Monday afternoon. "Here's where we'd like to do better. Yes, the drops for us were way higher than we would be anywhere near comfortable with."
According to STATS, the Falcons led the NFL with 30 dropped passes. In 2016, the Falcons dropped just 11 passes, which were the third-least in the league, according to Sporting Charts. That is an issue that can stop an offense dead in its tracks and kill a promising drive. For the Falcons, seven of those dropped passes resulted in interceptions, immediately taking the offense off the field.
Now that it's the offseason, the Falcons coaching staff has the opportunity to re-evaluate and address some of the key issues that presented themselves in 2017. Like any good coach would, Quinn has an idea of how to clean up the drops moving forward.
"I'll tell you there's a number of ways that we are going to address that, and it's not just from the coaching side, which is kind of an exciting thing," Quinn said. "This is a player-led team in a lot of respects, so a lot will be put on the players as well to make sure that focus, that intensity, to make sure that we are taking care of the ball like crazy. I treat drops much in the same fashion – if the ball is everything and if we're dropping it, where was the focus lost? – almost like a fumble, so to speak. We've got work to do in that area. It wasn't just one player, and it wasn't just one position. Because, if that had been the case, that would have been an easy way to remove that person. We've got work to do, but it's going to be players and coaches working that [problem] together like crazy to make sure that is a stat that I hope we never have a conversation about again."
With veteran receivers like Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu as well as an MVP quarterback in Matt Ryan around to set the tone, there is sure to be plenty of extra work done to make sure everyone is on the same page by the time the 2018 season rolls around.