Welcome to Straight from the ’Beek! The Falcons are looking to slam the brakes on a four-game losing skid as they prepare for a road game against the Packers at Lambeau Field. Meanwhile, my inbox is flooded this morning with questions – so let’s get right to them. Just remember that all opinions here are mine unless otherwise noted.
And away we go.
Jerry from Statesboro, GA
Hello, Beek. Sad weekend in the state of Georgia. Your postgame article is spot on. Our trenches aren’t built to get it done. Our offensive tackles are average, our guards are not starters, we only have two solid defensive linemen, and that equals 4-8 all day long. I know you will probably not agree but the blame for this season starts at the top. We blew hundreds of millions of dollars to retain players that have given us nothing this season (except Matt Ryan and Julio Jones). Yes, people will blame Sark, but the truth is, he can’t execute the plays for the players. I know you won’t agree with this either, but I just don’t think Dan Quinn is our guy. I know he led us to the Super Bowl in 2016, but let’s face it Beek, you or I could have coached that team to the Super Bowl. We need a Tom Coughlin type coach, not another Jim Mora, Jr. Sorry for the firestorm Beek. I’m just frustrated.
Matt: Hey, Jerry. I just went through my inbox and you’re not the only Falcons fan who is feeling frustrated this Monday morning. As it stands right now, one team – the 2-10 49ers – has been officially eliminated from playoff contention in the NFC. Only one other NFC team has a worse record than the Falcons right now, and that’s the 3-9 Cardinals. The Falcons, Giants and Lions are each 4-8. That’s the reality heading into Week 14. It’s time now to start looking at how the Falcons arrived here, which is what I wrote in my postgame column following the Ravens game. And as you noted, Jerry, I believe many of the Falcons’ issues right now stem from offensive and defensive line play. I’m not going to break down all of the issues with the run game and pass protection, but I will reiterate that you can’t win in this league without winning up front. The Falcons definitely have parts, but clearly need a few more. I will disagree with you regarding Dan Quinn, though. When you look at what he’s done with this program in the short time he’s been here, I believe Quinn and GM Thomas Dimitroff have more than earned the opportunity to address those issues and right the ship. The Falcons have a ton of decisions to make on a number of players on their current roster. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with them as they head into the final four games of the regular season, free agency and the NFL Draft. Thanks for your question, as always.
Justin from Bridgeport, MI
With the playoffs out of question and the season being a disappointment, what offseason changes do you see us making to the roster and do you think we go offensive or defensive line with our first pick?
Matt: The Falcons have a number of players who will be unrestricted free agents at the end of the year and there are several other players they’d like to give extensions to before their current deals expire. So, decisions will have to be made there once they’ve evaluated everything (and everyone) after the season. Without mentioning names, I expect some changes to be made. I also think the Falcons will approach free agency and the draft like they always do – they’ll evaluate the strengths of each, the going market and fill holes accordingly. It’ll be interesting to see where they finish record-wise and what their draft position will be, but I’m hoping the Falcons go offensive and defensive line with their early picks. Beyond that, I think they’ll look at adding another running back and cornerback, too.
Ray from Asheville, NC
Beek, I'm officially throwing in the towel. I have to say that it was incredibly painful to watch the offense and defense play what appeared to be uninspired football. Deion Jones and Grady Jarrett can be excluded from that list. What is going on with this team? Is it the coaching and play calling? It's not a very good team with great players. I'm disappointed in the fan base, too. We need to show up and support our team no matter what! There were so many empty seats and it was disheartening to see. I look forward to seeing how the team finishes the season and prepares for next season. Thank you again for your perspective.
Matt: It was definitely good to see Deion Jones back out on the field doing his thing and, not surprisingly, he led the Falcons with 15 tackles (13 solo) against the Ravens. It makes you wonder how much better than unit would’ve been if he had played all season long. And you’re right about Grady Jarrett, too. He’s been consistently good all year and had another strong outing with six tackles and a sack against Baltimore. This team is 4-8 and has lost four straight now, so I can’t say I’m completely surprised at all of the empty seats at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. I am surprised, however, when I see a bunch of red seats and the team is right in the thick of things with everything to play for. Regardless if they’re all out on the concourse watching the monitors or not, the empty seats are a bad look) especially on TV). People notice that, including the players and coaches. After sitting in the Superdome and experiencing all of the energy the fans provide there, it is jarring to come home to Atlanta and experience that. The Falcons have four more games – and there are a lot of guys who will be looking to make an impression on coaches. Despite the injuries, I think it’s fair to say that this team has definitely underachieved and it’s time to start figuring out where and why (I’m sure the coaches already have a good idea). Once a team is out of the playoff picture, I believe the season becomes an extended audition for next season. Teams are also looking at other players on other teams who are set to become free agents, too.
Rodney from Acworth, GA
Sooo Mr.Beek, I think we all agree we can't rise up anymore behind this team. So let’s all jump ship and say let’s go Atlanta United. You coming?
Matt: Nah, I’m not a ship jumper, Rodney. I think there’s a ton to play for over these next four games, specifically the future. Maybe we’ll get some extended looks at some other players in the coming weeks. Plus, there’s always the chance to play spoiler, too. Regarding the United, I’m all in there. You can root for both, ya know?
Charles from Lynchburg, VA
So, my question for SFTB is what do you think about trading Vic Beasley? Aside from his fluke sack-leading season, he has vastly underperformed. Would there be a possibility of maybe trading Vic on draft day to move up and secure Ed Oliver and gain a late-rounder in the draft if it comes to it? Ito Smith has impressed when he gets his hands on the ball, so I am less worried about losing Coleman, but while on the topic of running backs, I never believed Devonta Freeman was worth that enormous contract and he has trended down since the Super Bowl. I don’t know if anyone would want to pick up his contract, but would the Falcons be open to trading him away to free up cap space? Maybe get a dependable O-line to fill in? Oh yeah and is Sarkisian finally on the hot seat? He appeared to have turned things around in 2018 but he’s just so vanilla the rest of the league caught on and now we are back where we were, which is absolutely unacceptable having the weapons he has.
Matt: If I had a nickel for every time a disgruntled Falcons fan wanted to trade, sign or cut a player, I’d be retired and sipping a Mai Tai in Key West right now. That said, I understand the frustration when it comes to the Falcons’ lackluster pass rush. You mentioned Vic Beasley and referenced his league-leading 15.5 sacks in 2016. In the one season before and the two since, Beasley has 12 sacks total over those three seasons. That’s not what you expect out your former first-round draft pick, so I get it. Could the Falcons trade him prior to the draft? Well, sure. But as with any trade, it all depends on having a willing trade partner and if the compensation is worth pulling the trigger. Beasley is still young (he’s 26) and, at times, shows he has the potential. His athleticism was on display against the Ravens when he returned that fumble 74 yards for a touchdown, too. But right now Beasley is under contract and a member of the Falcons. No one is getting traded right now (the deadline has passed). Let’s wait and see how the offseason plays out. The rest is pure speculation.
Mark from Jacksonville, FL
Hi, Beek. Just read your recap of the Ravens game and I commend you for speaking for so bluntly. I should have read it before sending in my first question. Who are the best offensive linemen in next year's draft, in your opinion?
Matt: I appreciate the feedback, Mark. And thanks for reading my postgame column. I’m just starting to get into my draft research – feels like now is good time to start, if you know what I mean. But some tackles that I definitely want to read more about and watch are Washington’s Trey Adams, Greg Little out of Ole Miss and Alabama’s Jonah Williams.
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