FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Falcons were provided a reminder on Sunday of the importance of having each phase of the football team support the other, something that coach Dan Quinn touched upon in his Monday press conference.
Today's Early Bird Report includes a message safety Ricardo Allen had for his teammates on Sunday as well as a rant from Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
ESPN.com: Falcons' Allen: 'You can't let off'
Many people want to compare Sunday's loss to the Falcons' blown lead in February's Super Bowl, but it's a new year and each team is in the process of building a brand-new identity. Relaxing with the lead is not the type of identity Falcons safety Ricardo Allen wants this team to build. Speaking with ESPN's Vaughn McClure after the game, Allen explained that he urged his teammates to stay focused against the Dolphins.
"If they post my 'Mic'd Up,'" – We did, you can watch it right here – "I kept saying it over and over, 'This is not the time to f---ing relax' because I could see a couple people starting to lean back on the sideline," Allen told McClure. "You can't lean back. You can't pull off. You've got to keep grinding.
"You have to realize (the opponent) is going to make plays. That's why I always tell you I respect everybody. I have high regard for everybody. That's why you can't let off."
Pro Football Focus: Player grades from Dolphins-Falcons
As they do with every NFL game, the evaluators at Pro Football Focus assigned performance grades on Sunday's contest between the Falcons and the Dolphins.
Safety Keanu Neal received PFF's highest grade among Falcons, earning an 86.1. Matt Ryan earned the next-highest grade of 85.3 with PFF saying it was his "most assured performance of the year." Right guard Wes Schweitzer, running back Devonta Freeman and defensive tackle Dontari Poe rounded out the rest of the top five, receiving grades of 83.3, 82.9 and 82.1, respectively.
NEWS ON THE FALCONS' OPPONENT: New England Patriots
ESPN.com: Bill Belichick: 'Incomprehensible' to expect finished product right now
The Falcons aren't the only team working to put together a complete performance across all phases of the game. New England has some serious problems on defense, and it has yet to look like the team it was late last year. On his Monday conference call, Patriots coach Bill Belichick had a message for those who were frustrated with the dissimilarities between this year's team and the one they saw in the playoffs last year.
"I mean, I don't know, maybe I just can't figure it out," Belichick said, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss. "It's incomprehensible to me how anybody could think a team that's practiced for six months and played 19 regular-season and postseason games and had triple-digit practices; five months later, after not playing the game, after having a fraction of that type of experience could be anywhere close to the level of execution that they were five months before that.
"I mean, it's impossible in my view. So each year, you start all over again. You build your team over the course of the year through practice repetitions, preseason and regular-season games, through the evolving of your scheme. That's why each year is different and unique."
BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFC SOUTH
*Tampa Bay Times: *Jameis Winston shoulder injury is AC joint sprain
Buccaneers starting quarterback Jameis Winston left in the second quarter of Tampa Bay's loss to the Arizona Cardinals with what was described as a shoulder injury. On Monday, it was learned that Winston suffered an AC joint sprain, according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times*. *Winston has never missed a game in his three-year career, and Auman reports that this is an injury he may be able to play through.
MORE FROM ATLANTAFALCONS.COM