Today's Early Bird Report includes takeaways from Atlanta's loss to Tennessee as well as lessons from the past.
A 24-10 loss at home to the Tennessee Titans was not what the Falcons expected in Week 4. But, after the loss, Atlanta sits at 1-3 and searching for solutions. The loss to the Titans unveiled some strengths and weaknesses for the Falcons, but there were more negatives throughout the game.
One issue for the Falcons on Sunday was the offensive line, which allowed five sacks and 11 hits on Matt Ryan. That was one of the focus points for Jelani Scott, who wrote about the Falcons-Titans game for NFL.com.
"Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees' unit turned Matt Ryan (35-of-53, 397 yards, 0 TDs) into a human pinball machine, sacking him five times and hitting him a total of 11 times," Scott writes. "The Titans batted down several balls and were also all over the run, holding Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith to a combined 39 yards on 14 carries. The group even snuffed out an attempt to get Jones going on a reverse. Their most impressive stop came late in the second quarter on fourth-and-1 on their own 39. Freeman built up a head of steam out of the backfield but was stuffed by safety Kenny Vaccaro, who led the effort, and DE Jurrell Casey for a two-yard loss. To that point, Atlanta (1-3) was 3-for-3 on fourth-down conversions this season."
To read the rest of Scott's takeaways from Sunday's game, click here.
ESPN: Week 4 NFL takeaways
The Falcons managed to score a touchdown in the first quarter for the first time on Sunday, but that was the only time the team punched it into the end zone against the Titans. After erupting in the second half against the Colts, the Falcons' offense lay dormant against Tennessee, adding volume to the concerns of a slow-starting unit.
"Whatever message the Falcons' coaching staff is sending to the players is not getting through," ESPN's Vaughn McClure writes. "It's the same story every week as the Falcons get off to a slow start and aren't able to recover. This time, it was a 24-7 hole in the second quarter against the Titans. They've been outscored 38-10 in first quarters and 71-20 in first halves this season, a major factor in their 1-3 start. Asked why these slow starts keep mounting, especially for an offense that's supposed to be extremely explosive, quarterback Matt Ryan responded, 'Usually it comes down to all 11 of us executing and finishing our plays, and winning our one-on-one matchups ... across the board, we haven't done a good enough job of that.' Recovering from their latest loss won't be easy -- the Falcons have to travel to Houston."
To read the rest of ESPN's takeaways from Week 4, click here.
AJC: Falcons losses mount, as do bad memories
In his column after Sunday's game, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Steve Hummer invoked the past. While watching a disappointing Falcons game, he began to think of others, and he didn't seem to have much trouble recalling them.
"I heard the voice of Jerry Glanville, somewhere, who toward the end of his Falcons reign would proudly proclaim, 'Not a single man quit; not a single man surrendered.' Because when nothing else is working, the life vest of a floundering team is its pride," Hummer writes. "You knew then that this quality, admirable as it is, wouldn't be enough when the losses mount. Just as you know it now.
"I recalled one of the best men to ever coach in the NFL, Dan Reeves, fired with three games to go in 2003, five years after doing the Dirty Bird on the way to a Super Bowl. Past performance is no guarantee of future employment. And there are no excuses big enough to hide behind. Even, if as in Reeves' case, his great, as-yet unsullied star quarterback Mike Vick was lost to a preseason broken leg that year."
To read the rest of Hummer's column, click here.