Today’s Early Bird Report includes the Falcons’ approach to finding answers on the defensive side of the ball.
After giving up 53 points to the Texans, the Falcons are searching for answers on the defensive side of the ball. The team is spending the week in Arizona prior to Sunday’s game against the Cardinals, and coach Dan Quinn is hoping that extra time together will help the defense gel.
Quinn and his staff are diving into everything regarding Atlanta’s defense, from limiting explosive plays to getting the right call on third downs.
“The key is the right call at the right time is usually where it's at,” Quinn said Monday. “That's what I think, as a team, certainly on third downs, that we can improve upon. To allow the amount of explosives we had (Sunday) and to show some of those inconsistencies, man, that hurt.
“That's what today was really about. We got together, we didn't make it about just one game ... we put the whole thing together, and it was a difficult day for us.”
Matt Winkeljohn wrote more about the Falcons’ defense hitting the books this week for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which you can read here.
NFL.com: What we learned from Week 5
Sunday’s 53-32 loss to the Texans revealed some positives and negatives about the Falcons. Atlanta was able to move the ball effectively for much of the game, but the Falcons couldn’t muster a defensive effort capable of even slowing down the Texans.
In the aftermath of the game, the reactions to Atlanta’s performance have tended to center around those two points. NFL.com’s Jelani Scott wrote about the outstanding performance of Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson in his recap of the action as well as the Falcons’ offensive showing.
“For at least the first half, the Falcons offense didn't look like the team that struggled in Week 4,” Scott writes. “Scoring drives on three of their five possessions had QB Matt Ryan (14-of-22, 149 yards, 2 TDs in first half) and Co. up 17-16 at half, but the second half proved disastrous. Three straight punts halted Atlanta's momentum, a matter made worse by the defense giving up two TDs and a field goal to Houston. Ryan completed 18 of his 24 second-half attempts for 181 yards and a TD, but the bulk of those didn't come until the fourth quarter with the team down 16 and trying to put together a late comeback; the Falcons QB also tallied a fourth-quarter rushing TD. Wideouts Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu combined for 10 catches on 14 targets, 130 yards and two TDs but star Julio Jones (3-for-7, 42 yards) was ineffective for the second straight week.”
To read the rest of Scott’s takeaways for NFL.com, click here.
ESPN: NFL Takeaways from Week 5
On the defensive side of the ball, the reviews were much more critical. After allowing Watson to post a perfect quarterback record and giving up 46 points to Houston’s offense, the Falcons clearly have some work to do, defensively. That’s the subject ESPN’s Vaughn McClure wrote about in his note from the game.
“The Falcons surrendered 592 yards of total offense to the Texans and did not sack Watson,” McClure writes. “And now the Falcons have Kyler Murray, Jared Goff, Russell Wilson and perhaps Drew Brees upcoming over the next four games. The offense might have to score 35-plus points per game if the Falcons hope to win. "We're disappointed across the board,'' said Falcons coach Dan Quinn, who also is the team's defensive coordinator. "One hundred percent gut-check time for us.''
To read the rest of ESPN’s takeaways from Week 5, click here.
AJC: Will Falcons throw in the towel on 2019
For the second season in a row, the Falcons have begun the season with a 1-4 record. In 2018 the team managed to rattle off three straight wins to reach .500 at the halfway mark of the season. If they are going to do the same, the Falcons can’t afford to throw in the towel, as left tackle Jake Matthews told D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution after the game.
“I know the mindset of this team and the people in this locker room, we’re going to work our [butts] off,” Matthews said. “We’re going to keep trying to win every week. That’s what we are expected to do. That’s what we should do with the talent that we have.”
To read the rest of Ledbetter’s piece, click here.
AJC: Falcons owner says no changes coming – for now
Despite the Falcons’ lackluster start to the 2019 season, owner Arthur Blank remains committed to the regime in place. Although Sunday’s performance was troubling, Blank told the AJC’s Steve Hummer that the history of this coaching staff and front office is worth betting on.
“Obviously, the faith is being rattled right now and I’m sure our fans feel that way,” Blank told Hummer. “This is an organization starting with the head coach and the general manager who know how to fight and know how to fight back. They don’t know how to lose. They know how to win. They are tenacious, they are not going to lay down. Hopefully it will be good enough to have a respectable performance the rest of the season.”
To read the rest of Hummer’s piece on Blank, click here.