The Falcons' latest injury report was a lengthy one, but that won't matter come Monday night. It's a game they've got to have and, at 0-3, fans don't want to hear any excuses. Meanwhile, you've got plenty of questions and comments – so let's get to them now. Just remember that all opinions here are mine unless noted otherwise.
And we're off.
Robin from Suwanee, GA
Beek, thanks for taking my rant which is not a question. I watched the Super Bowl loss unfold as the Birds continued to pass and not run out the clock. After the game we kept hearing about Kyle Shanahan's arrogance, and we heard Dan Quinn say he lets his coaches coach and he doesn't micromanage them. I figured and hoped he learned from that. This year we signed a "bell cow" running back and did not use him in the fourth quarter against the Bears. We kept passing without positive results and kept giving the ball back. The clock worked against us and a "style points" mentality of our OC showed up again. Running the ball isn't pretty but it works well. In the '80s we had Gerald Riggs running behind Bill Fralic and we chewed up so much clock time that our defense hardly played. I can see it, why can't DQ?
Matt: I've always heard that good offensive play-callers are supposed to have a feel for the game – an understanding of what the opposing defense is trying to do – and late in the game when trying to seal a win, I'd expect the OC to be dialing up plays that would ensure that. Clearly the Falcons saw something and thought their best chance to move the ball was by passing it. But, as we all know, if those passes don't connect, the clock stops and the drive dies. Or, worse, there's a turnover – an interception. In general, I think the best teams are the ones who are stingy on defense and can run the ball on offense (or at least run enough to force opposing defense to think twice/respect the run). The other critical factor for me is field position. I'm all about forcing teams to start deep in their own territory vs. giving them short fields; another reason I'm not a fan of fake punts or going for it on fourth down unless you're in enemy territory. At the end of the day, though, every team is different and built different – and you have to stay true to your identity. If the Falcons want to pass there, then fine. But you'd better convert it and move the chains.
Pat from Downingtown, PA
Hi Beek, I always look forward to your column. I have been a Falcons fan since day one in 1966. The Tommy Nobis, Jeff Van Note and the Gritz Blitz days and some lean times, but what we are going through is difficult to watch. The best teams have a killer instinct when they have a lead, especially going into the fourth quarter. They locked down and make plays. Regardless of the play-calling they make plays. It doesn't it seem the Falcons have that killer instinct. My question is how does Dan Quinn and his coaching team instill that killer instinct? Thanks, Pat.
Matt: A team with a so-called killer instinct is a team comprised of players who want to make a play when the game is in question or on the line. It's being clutch in those crucial times. I think the Falcons have those kinds of players but until they start finishing games, they're going to wear this reputation … or lacking, as you put it, a killer instinct.
Aarya from Morenci, AZ
Hey Beek, with the recent losses, and the bad plays... I still think we have a huge shot at upsetting the Packers on Monday. I mean just look at our offense, for example, Ridley's historic start, Ryan's MVP-like start, Hurst making crucial plays, Gage becoming more and more viable, Gurley and Hill's running attempts. It's all coming together, as we all know we could very well be 2-1, maybe even 3-0 if we played like we did in Week 2. Our defense is also getting better, with moving Jordan Miller from the practice squad, Jarret, Foye, Takk, and Fowler all crashing the QB. I know our defense is suffering from injuries, arguably the hardest injury-hit defense right now, aside from the Niners. Idk, maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm too optimistic, but I really think we can prove everyone wrong next week.
Matt: The only way the Falcons can change the narrative about themselves and their coaches is to win, beginning on Monday night. No words, no stats … nothing else will do it, not even moral victories. Only wins.
David from Denver, CO
Is Julio practicing this week? The Falcons need him to play well to have a chance against the Packers this week.
Matt: The first injury report of the week came out Thursday (because their game is on Monday) and Julio Jones was listed as having "limited participation," David. We'll see how it goes through the weekend.
JC from Savannah, GA
Beek, we all know we should be two and one. However, objectively, we have had a lot of injuries, and it has to take its toll by the fourth quarter. We beat the Seahawks and the Packers to get to the Super Bowl in 2017. A loss to the Seahawks and Packers will simply confirm we have slipped to a lower tier. However, an upset win could right the ship. I am curious, since you were not here, what do you think, objectively, is the difference between the current Falcons and the team that beat the Seahawks and Packers to get to the Super Bowl?
Matt: Every team, every coaching staff and the schedules and circumstances surrounding them change on a yearly basis. Because of that, I don't get too caught up in comparing teams (and records) like that. However, for the sake of your question, I'll say this much. When looking at each one of those Falcons teams, I'd say the biggest difference is how they're playing on defense. This current group really struggled against two very good quarterbacks in Weeks 1 and 2. And against the Bears, they played better on defense, but didn't make the clutch plays when they needed to put the game on ice.
Brian from Minneapolis, MN
Beek, I'm writing simply to take exception to James from Calhoun's words from Thursday. Who, exactly, made him the decider of what makes a "true" fan? Perhaps those of us who are willing to take off our rose-colored glasses, acknowledge this team's shortcomings, and call for change rather than blindly cheering are the "true" fans. Or, crazy as it sounds, maybe we're all true fans with different mindsets, outlooks, and approaches to our fandom. As a self-professed leader on the message boards around here, he should be promoting unity, rather than driving a wedge with through the fan base with his divisive rhetoric. Last I checked, the Brotherhood was supposed to be an inclusive group, not an exclusive club for those of a certain attitude.
Matt: There's no right or wrong way to be a fan, so long as you keep things in perspective, respect others and remember at the end of the day that this is a game – and the players and coaches are out there trying to make a living and have families, too. In other words, don't make personal attacks. But fans have every right to cheer and boo, if they want … just keep it all in perspective.
Nathan from San Jose, CA
Hey Beek. Say the Falcons win against the Packers. That's great! But let's say they lose. Where will they get their confidence and motivation? Thanks!
Matt: Whenever a team loses, everything is second-guessed. When a team goes on a losing streak like the Falcons are currently experiencing, the second-guessing is amplified … and it keeps getting louder and louder until they win a game. Questions will be asked. Confidence will be tested. The only way to turn back the criticism and turn down the decibels is to win and keep winning. That's it. Questions die and confidence grows with each passing win.
Richard from Mazon, IL
Hey, Beek. I was at one of the bars I shoot pool out of last Sunday and had my No. 2 Matt Ryan jersey on. Well, everyone kept asking me two questions: 1) How does Dan Quinn still have a job? 2) Why are they still passing instead of running the ball to kill the clock? How do you answer these questions? One more thing. I've been a Falcons fan since 1967 and seen a lot of bad Falcons teams. But I never saw any of those less-talented teams give up on plays like this team does. They always tried to win. Any thoughts??
Matt: This is Dan Quinn's team and he's got to lead them out of the 0-3 hole they're in, beginning with the Green Bay Packers on Monday night. The Falcons obviously saw something they liked or felt good about when they opted to throw the ball at the end of the Bears game. I agree that running the football would have kept the clock running and, in general, is safer. But teams have to stay true to their identity, too, and they clearly felt good about the plays they dialed up. What's done is done, and they're 0-3. It's up to them to fix things and right the ship before the season is a wash. Let's hope it starts Monday. I think they can do it, if they can score (a lot of) points and steal a possession or two. Stay tuned.
And I'll wrap up today's SFTB with a poem from a Falcons fan in Oregon.
Daniel from Eugene, OR
Hello from the West Coast
From the fan
Who loves you the most
Thru thick and thin
Win or loose
There is no question
You are the team I choose
By authority of the 50 years
I have bled black and red
I lay down the gauntlet
Brotherhood; I issue to you
A challenge of manhood
If there is a killer instinct in you
It is time to let it loose
2020 is like cement
Ready to pour on a legacy
Which kind of legacy?
That is entirely up to you
Unchain the beast
Let the animal loose
Leave it all out there
Isn't that what they say?
This is the challenge is issue
Starting in Green Bay this Monday
Do not lose another game!
Matt: Thanks, Daniel.
Go ahead, ask the Beek
Do you have a question about the Atlanta Falcons (or anything football-related) you'd like to ask Matt Tabeek? If so, hit the link. Please remember to include your home state (or country if you live outside the U.S.). Thanks for reading SFTB!