Welcome to Straight from the 'Beek! The Falcons are looking to get back on track beginning with a road game against the Packers on Sunday. In the meantime, you've got plenty of questions. Just remember that all opinions here are mine unless otherwise noted.
And we're off.
Eric from Beach Island, SC
Hey, Beek. It's been a rough season. I thought Sark had the offense trending in the right direction. These last three weeks have been horrible. My question is, do you see Dan Quinn calling Mike McCarthy to run this high-powered offense that everyone know we have or is he going to stick with Sark?
Matt: Hi, Eric. Uh, no, I do not see Falcons coach Dan Quinn calling former Packers coach Mike McCarthy and asking him to run Atlanta's offense. I'm not a gambler, but I'd bet the house on McCarthy being a head coach again. Just because the Packers felt like they need to "change course" and make a head coaching change doesn't mean McCarthy isn't an excellent head coach. He posted a 125-77-2 record in nearly 13 seasons as the Packers' coach, won a Super Bowl and made the playoffs nine times. My point is that he's probably already fielding offers to coach again – at the NFL and college level. I see it didn't take long for a lot of you to change your tune regarding Steve Sarkisian. Is Sarkisian's play calling the issue or the fact that the Falcons are having trouble run blocking and pass protecting? I think you could make the case that it's both. Sometimes it doesn't matter who is calling plays if players aren't executing. I also think offensive line will be a high priority come free agency and the NFL Draft. Everyone marvels at Sean McVay's play calling out in Los Angeles – and rightfully so. But the Rams have also made some significant moves in free agency over the past couple of years to shore up that offensive line for Jared Goff, signing tackle Andrew Whitworth and center John Sullivan. The Falcons have some key pieces in place already along the offensive line, but they've lost guards Andy Levitre and Brandon Fusco to season-ending injuries. Everything plays a part in it, Eric.
Grant from Belleville, IL
Hi, Beek. First time writer to SFTB, but I read your columns all the time when I'm at work. You're great at what you do. Don't stop! So, my thing isn't really a question either. I just want the fans to realize how great head coach Dan Quinn is and how he will turn this team around in 2019. Mike Smith had two good first seasons with the Falcons (10-6, 13-3) but never quite got us anywhere else. His last two years he went 4-12 and 6-10. We are probably going to do better than 4-12 this season, folks. We're gonna finish better than that. There are still four games left. The last thing Quinn needs right now is unworthy fans striking down verbally on our already injured Falcons team. Rise up, ATL! We are going to smash Green Bay this week.
Matt: Thanks for writing in, Grant. You're right, there's no question to answer here but I wanted to run your submission since a lot of fans feel the same as you do. It's a different perspective, but one I'm sure some fans might agree with.
Dontavious from Milledgeville, GA
We need to draft a quarterback in the draft! Matt Ryan has not been playing up to his contract. When will he stop panicking and be the QB he was in 2016? Also, what are we looking for in this upcoming draft?
Matt: I don't think it's fair to say Matt Ryan is panicking, but he has been sacked 36 times in 12 games – and is on pace to be taken down 48 times, which would be a career-high. He was sacked 44 times in 2013. Ryan is being hit almost eight times per games. So it's clear he's been under duress while behind center this season. If you want to categorize that as panicking, that's your prerogative. Ryan has proven this season that he can still put up prolific numbers in this offense when he has time. The Falcons' offense overall simply needs to be better. They need to get the run game going; that'll take pressure off Ryan as well as open up the play-action game. They need to do a better job of protecting Ryan in passing situations. The Falcons have a ton of talented skill-position players – Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Mohamed Sanu, Tevin Coleman, Austin Hooper and Ito Smith – and Ryan needs time to find them. If they can do that, the points will come – and when you're scoring points, you're able to open up the offense even more. But the fact that we're talking about this heading into the 13th game of the season isn't great.
Julian from Inglewood, CA
What's going on! Been reading for a long time and enjoy all info and input you enter. Just got back to my home in LA after visiting Atlanta for the game. Unfortunately, I traveled out for a loss but that's football for us. It was pretty sad to say that I saw a lot of fans leave the stadium once the fumble recovered for the TD happened. And there was still 4 minutes left! What's going on? I stayed until the end, but it was shocking to see the stadium half empty when the game wasn't even over. Did the fans give up? Anyway, I'm excited for next season since practically this is one over. We seriously need to make some BIG offseason moves. I hate to say that some folk aren't producing anymore, and we could use some new faces in my opinion! And also extend contracts of the players who are actually doing something! (*cough, cough Grady Jarrett*) I know he's next in line for it so please keep him. Thanks for your time!
Matt: Hey, Julian. It's awesome that you were able to make it to Atlanta … and it's unfortunate that they lost to the Ravens. I don't have any answers for you regarding the fans, the empty seats or as to why they left so early other than it's been one of those kinds of years so far. It's a four-win team right now that's struggling on both sides of the ball. As with any offseason, I expect there will be some changes. Even when teams win the last game of the year – the Super Bowl – there are changes. So when a team falls short of its' goals, it's only natural to expect come changes.
James from Garden Grove, CA
Hey Beek. What's going on? So, I just have a couple questions about Sark. As of now our offense has been unable to produce more than 20 points in the last month, we've given up eight turnovers, and have a total of five touchdowns in the month ... not saying to part cause who's gonna step up really? But time to think of another option just in case?? Given the circumstances with our injuries I understand the frustration this team is going through, but we can't forget this offense in 2016 was something special and our personnel isn't much different. We've even added to that list, so there's no reason why these weapons shouldn't be utilized. Thanks for your time and love the content.
Matt: Hey, James. Falcons coach Dan Quinn has said that he wants to see the team fight to win over these next four games. And that means he wants to see which players takes advantage of their opportunities. And that goes with everyone, coaches included. I think it's safe to say that Quinn is watching everything and evaluating everything. There are always going to be changes in the offseason, but I think you find out a lot about people when things aren't going well, when times are tough. Who knows how the Falcons will finish record-wise. But how they finish – the manner in which they prepare, play and react – could determine a lot heading into the offseason. That's just my two cents, based on what I see, hear and read.
Rick from Holly Springs, NC
Hi, Beek. Thanks for the consistent support of the Dirty Birds week in and week out. It's hard to find loyal fans that stick with and defend your team through the rough patches. All you see on social media and other news outlets is "fans" asking for the heads of Dan Quinn, Matt Ryan, Vic Beasley, etc., etc. ... I get it, we stink right now, we're 4-8, but it's not time to panic like we're the Raiders. Atlanta will still have a team in 2019, and we'll also add a top-10 pick (more than likely) to our already DEEP roster when our players are healthy next year. This season is obviously a bust, but I don't see why we can't be back in the playoffs next year. We have glaring needs in the trenches that I'm sure Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff have noticed since the Eagles manhandled our lines in Week 1. Heck, you could see it in the playoffs last year when we lost to the Eagles in the divisional round and also in the win against the Rams. On offense, without blockers, DUH Matt Ryan does look frazzled. That's what happens when you have 1 second to make a decision. Our 100-million-dollar man isn't going anywhere. On defense, our secondary and LBs look exposed sometimes because our rushers aren't generating pressure or shedding blocks. I don't want to hear that a Pro Bowl corner Desmond Trufant sucks or a $38 million Robert Alford needs to be cut. These QBs are sitting back there and carving us up. We as a community need to be out on the streets posting up "Missing Persons" flyers for Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley. Heck, why not even throw up a flyer for Bryant Young? My question: Do you think our front office finally addresses our long-lasting line of scrimmage issues in the offseason when it's the most glaring need? Or do we get trigger happy in the draft when we see a flashy new toy (Calvin Ridley) sitting there, or a steal in the second round (Isaiah Oliver) based on projections?
Matt: Only one team finishes the season happy when it's all said and done, Rick, and you seem to get that. It's been a tough season for sure here in Atlanta for a multitude of reasons – from the injuries to key players, the offensive line problems, pass protection, lack of a pass rush and the list goes on. And when one area is especially strong, like the pass rush for example, it can sometimes help or hide deficiencies on the back end of the defense. That all said, I do believe the team will address the trenches in the offseason – on both sides of the ball, Rick. This looks like a strong draft class (early on) when it comes to the defensive line and edge rushers. And I'm not sure which offensive linemen will hit free agency, or if they'll be a fit. There's a lot that will (and must) unfold first before we reach those points of the NFL year. Should be quite interesting to see how it all comes together. Thanks for the kind words and for writing in.
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