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Questions about how Falcons can turn the season around, beating the Bucs, what 1-4 means, much more 

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Welcome to Straight from the ’Beek! The Falcons are regrouping after a tough road loss to the Steelers – and you’ve got plenty of questions. So, let’s get right to them. Just remember that all opinions here are mine unless otherwise noted.

And away we go.

Mark from Marietta, GA
Hi Beek. Appreciate your sense of humor regarding the “one-play” moniker barb. Fans clearly appreciate! Missed tackles, blown coverages, a blocked punt, losing at the line of scrimmage, just plain bad football … Falcons did it all against Pittsburgh. On a positive note, while I put little credence in in preseason play, the pick today by Damontae Kazee covering Antonio Brown shows he has potential. A few other first-contract Falcons players as well. As you know to compete in the salary capped NFL you have to have first-contract players as big contributors as Falcons did in their second Super Bowl appearance. While the season is all but lost playoff-wise, the Falcons can evaluate players that may be replacements for solid performers, including All-Pros, given the reality you can't sign them all. The Falcons are better than the team we saw on the road in Pittsburgh. You say?

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Matt: Hi, Mark. I’m over talking about potential, one play here, one play there and more “what if” scenarios. In the end, all that really means is that you didn’t achieve what you set out to achieve – you fell short and didn’t get it done. As far as the Falcons go, the season is not lost. Not yet, anyway. Teams have started 1-4 and made the playoffs before – but those were different teams in different years. The Falcons have their own unique set of challenges to overcome and work through right now. In the meantime, they need to find a way to beat the Buccaneers on Sunday. Whatever it takes, they need to win that game – they can’t afford another loss this early in the season, especially in the division. That’s the reality of starting 1-4.

Jerry from Statesboro, GA
Hey Beek. You were right, we got exposed up front. We could say the field conditions caused the lack of push or protection on our part, but we flat out got outplayed and outcoached. However, there is a bright side … We have another game next week. The season is not lost until we lose eight games, so there’s still a chance. (Slim, but a chance.) My question is, do we have the wrong players for our defensive scheme or are the players we have need more time? My next question is, why don’t we blitz more? Before you answer that I know, I know … we don’t want to give up big plays, but we’re giving up 40 points a game anyway. Let’s try something new. Thanks for listening, Beek. I still love my Falcons. Rise Up!!!

Matt: Hey, Jerry. The Falcons believe in their program, in their scheme and in the players they’ve brought in to play it. They’re not going to scrap it all after five games. Could this team be 4-1 instead of 1-4? Maybe, but I’m tired of using that logic. They’re going to do the best they can with the players they have, Jerry. There’s no one walking the streets right now that’s going to turn everything around. The injuries have hurt this team, no question about it. But all of that is out the window now. They must find a way to beat the Buccaneers on Sunday – with these players. As far as the field conditions go, both teams play on the same surface. So I don’t really subscribe to that as an excuse. I think the Falcons have excellent coaches, too. But so do the Pittsburgh Steelers – you don’t make it to the NFL by accident, whether it’s as a coach or a player. Everyone is very, very good at what they do. After four games, the Falcons really needed this one to get back on track after some very tough losses – and it ended up being their first one-sided loss of the year. Offense, defense and special teams – they were beat in all phases. As far as just going for it and blitzing more, etc., I think you have to pick your spots, Jerry. I’m all for trying to make something happen, but games can get out of hand in a hurry in this league and the last thing you want is to get burned on a few blitzes and find yourself down 21-0 before you even blink.

Maggie from Suwanee, GA
No question! The Atlanta FALCONS suck! I am sick and tired of paying my money to watch a losing team who is getting PAID MILLIONS! How can anyone have a Ferrari in their garage and bring it out on Sunday and drive it like a FREAKING VOLKSWAGEN!

Matt: Well, that’s an interesting analogy, Maggie. Being somewhat of a car guy – I’m no collector; all my money goes to my kids – I’d have to say that when you’re missing some key parts, that car just isn’t going to run the same. The good news is that the Ferrari is still running, and the trip is hardly over. But I’ll give you this much – the check engine light is on and it needs to be serviced before Sunday’s game against the Bucs. That Ferrari needs to be opened up – and every bit of horsepower will be needed.

Scott from Hapeville, GA
I wish they would, but I know they won't … is there even a snowball's chance that Coach Quinn would consider on-sides kickoffs exclusively from here on out? If we aren't stopping anybody, why let the other teams continue to roll up yards with those 97-yard drives? Just let them start at our 40 instead. This way our defense won't get too tired from being on the field through long drives by the opponents. There is the added benefit of getting really, really good at varieties of on-sides kickoffs, and stealing a possession now and then.

Matt: Haha! Thanks for making me laugh out loud this morning, Scott! So instead of giving opposing offenses a long field, you’d rather give them a short field. And by going with an onside kick every single time we can simply forget about catching teams off guard. Who needs the element of surprise anyway? Look, it’ll never happen. That snowball has a better chance. Thanks for writing in, Scott.

Sloane from Melbourne, Australia
G'day Beek. As always, I love your work. I love my Falcons, too, and I am not a fair-weather supporter. But this morning I found the game just unwatchable. After the Foye Oluokun penalty late in the third, I turned the T.V. off and went back to bed (6 a.m. my time). I know a season will never be written off after Week 5, however I feel the Falcons need to start thinking realistically and start looking to future seasons. What do you feel the Falcons should focus on from here? Winning games is important; however, I think junior player development with a view to having the whole team firing in 2019 would be a good long-term goal. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Rise up

Matt: Great to hear from you again, Sloane. It’s been a while since we’ve heard from anyone Down Under. Not to harp on it, but the Foye Oluokun play was, well, a dumb play. He wasn’t thinking and must’ve gotten caught up in the heat of the battle – but that’s never an excuse, regardless. No team can afford that kind of play, especially teams training in games and trying like heck to get back into the win column. To answer your question, this team – this coaching staff – is not about to give up on anything. There’s always a big-picture plan and that’s always in play. The reality is that this team has a lot talent and, unfortunately, a lot of players have been injured and/or lost for the season. The Falcons are 1-4 with the Buccaneers coming into town. A win puts them at 2-4 and 2-1 in the NFC South. They hardly out of it, but they’re backing into that must-win territory. There’s a lot of on-the-job training right now, but it’s time for them to get it done and get some wins. With the Bucs, Giants, Redskins, Browns and Cowboys coming up, they have a chance. Only one of those teams currently has a winning record.

McKenzie from Virginia Beach, VA
Love everything you do for the fans, keeping us updated with everything that is the brotherhood! I always try to be optimistic when it comes to us but sitting at 1-4 with a defense that is struggling would be considered and understatement. At what point do we consider tanking the season? Harsh I know, but we have no pass rush if Takk McKinley is not getting pressure because Vic Beasley has turned into a ghost and our DTs haven’t been much, besides Grady Jarrett. How do we fix that? It looks like that will be our main focus again in the draft and free agency, like always.

Matt: Thanks, McKenzie! Right back at you. I have family in Virginia Beach, by the way. Love it up there. Look, as I noted above, forget about all this talk of tanking the season. It isn’t going to happen. This team, even though it is standing at 1-4 right now, has too much talent and can still win games. They have a critical game coming upon Sunday against the Bucs, a division game. If they’re going to turn this thing around, it will have to start Sunday at home. And it can be done. Look no further than the 2016 Miami Dolphins – they started the year off with a 1-4 record and went 9-2 down the stretch – and made the playoffs. I’m not saying that will happen, but it could. And as long as there’s a chance, this team will do whatever it can for a win.

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