Before parting for the bye week, Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, along with the rest of Atlanta's staff, challenged his players to evaluate how satisified they are with their performance so far. Although each self-assessment varies, the responses more or less reflect the same notion: A lot has been done right, but there's plenty of room for improvement.
Offensively, everyone has placed an emphasis on making the most of prime scoring chances, which, according to FB Patrick DiMarco, hasn't happened yet. The Falcons have earned touchdowns on 60.61 percent of red zone trips, good for 11th in the NFL; in the last three matchups, however, they've found pay dirt just 36.36 percent of the time after reaching the opponent's 20.
"As a running back group we talked about finishing," said DiMarco, who added that cleaning up small mistakes is an important objective, as well. "You don't get that many (opportunities), especially in San Francisco when they limited us. You got to have some explosive plays. We just need to finish better, I need to finish my blocks better, (Devonta Freeman) needs to finish his runs a little harder."
DiMarco also thinks there needs to be a more urgent approach, and OLB O'Brien Schofield, second on the team in QB hurries (11) and hits (eight), agrees. The former Seahawk used his days off to rewatch the first nine contests, and based on the tape, he saw Atlanta's intensity (or lack thereof) correlated strongly with the final outcome.
"I noticed that there are some games where the energy is up, is high, and there are some games where it's fluctuating," he said. "I realized the results of those. There is (a relationship) there."
Schofield believes if the defense can find its identity, cut down on mental errors and bring a consistent effort, the rest will work itself out. He sees a lot of promise in the offense, too, and is confident success on that side of the ball can be contagious moving forward.
"It's going to be fun," he said of the home stretch. "The guys are refreshed. It was good to get our bodies healthy and to come back strong."