FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes the Falcons' position in the latest batch of power rankings as well as the team's new priority.
After another loss, the Falcons continue to slip in the power rankings. Even the most optimistic explanations for the slow start point out that the margin for error moving forwards is quickly narrowing. To read our own Matt Tabeek's NFL power rankings, click here.
"It's going to be a long season in Hotlanta. In the wake of a vicious attack by the injury bug, Dan Quinn simply doesn't have the horses on the defensive side of the ball. Look at this from a baseball standpoint. If you don't have a shortstop, center fielder or left fielder -- and two of them are All-Stars -- it's going to be awfully tough to win ballgames. Unless the pitching is spectacular. Matt Ryan was just that against the Saints in Week 3 and the Bengals in Week 4, when he piled up nearly 800 yards passing, eight touchdowns and no picks. You can't expect a guy to play like 2007 Tom Brady every single week, with the pressure of knowing he must score 35 points to have a chance. Heck, Atlanta needed 45 points against its last three opponents."
"The defense just can't compete with so many players injured. At 1-4, their playoff chances are going bye-bye."
"According to FPI, the Falcons' toughest remaining game is a Week 12 Thanksgiving night matchup against the Saints, where they have a 35 percent chance to win. That will begin a stretch of six games to end the season for Atlanta where they are favored to win just two of those matchups."
"The Falcons are still good enough to reel off a few wins and get back into the playoff picture, but now they have basically no margin for error the rest of the season."
Here are some other articles for Falcons fans to check out today:
ESPN: Falcons' new priority: Keep Matt Ryan upright
The Falcons' offensive line doesn't want a repeat performance of their loss to the Steelers. In that game, Matt Ryan was sacked a season-high six times and he endured 11 hits throughout the afternoon. On Monday, Falcons coach Dan Quinn said that type of performance "cannot happen," and they are working to get the problem corrected.
"There were some technique errors at offensive line [and] at running back, when [we] went through it," Quinn said. "Each one specifically had an issue that we had to deal with and get corrected."
ESPN's Vaughn McClure wrote more about the Falcons' new priority in protecting Ryan, which you can read here.
AJC: After being routed, is there a way back for the Falcons?
Atlanta suffered its most lopsided defeat on Sunday, and it's now fallen to 1-4 on the season. The most recent loss, coupled with the number of impactful injuries the team has sustained, leads the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Mark Bradley to ask if there is a way for the Falcons to get back on track in 2018?
"Apologies for belaboring the point, but the Falcons really are up against it," Bradley writes. "They're 1-4. No NFL team has a worse record. Once past the next two weeks – Tampa Bay on Sunday, then the Giants on Monday night – they'll have three home games remaining. It's no longer realistic to think in terms of 10-6, and finishing 9-7 would entail going 8-3 from here on. And the Falcons' performance here in what was essentially a must game for both was their worst of the season. This time both offense and defense – and special teams, too – were culpable. It was a total fizzle."