Straight from the Beek

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SFTB: Questions about the Falcons’ 1-4 start and how to fix it

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Both the Falcons and Cardinals are planning to come out of Sunday’s showdown in Arizona with their second win of the season. Atlanta (1-4) enters the game on a three-game losing streak while Arizona (1-3-1) is coming off its first win. Meanwhile, you’ve got plenty of questions, so let’s get to them now. Just remember that all opinions here are mine unless otherwise noted.

And away we go.

James from Atlanta, GA
Beek, enjoy your column, love reading it. My concern is that our coaching staff just doesn't have what it takes to recognize the talents. Vic, Oliver, Trufant, Riley ... List goes on and on ... Trufant may be a great athlete, but he doesn’t have a good football IQ. DQ just doesn’t have what it takes to be a head coach in my humble opinion. What do you think?

Matt: Thanks for the kind words, James. Here’s what I think, and I’m going to tell you what I told J.C. from Vidalia, Ga., on Sept. 30. The Falcons have one first-place finish, two second-place finishes and a third-place finish under Dan Quinn. He’s won the NFC South once, has an NFC championship under his belt and has taken the Falcons to a Super Bowl. Quinn has had one losing season, in 2018, and we all know what happened last year with injuries and everything else. He won’t ever use that as an excuse, but I’ll point it out. Quinn’s overall regular-season record is 37-32 (and that’s counting this year’s 1-4 start). There are 11 games to go this season and I think Quinn has more than earned the benefit of the doubt to right the ship after a not-so-ideal start to the year. But ... the Falcons are 1-4 right now and as Bill Parcells likes to say, you are what your record says you are.

Robert from Marietta, GA
Beek, admire your passion for the game and the Falcons. I feel for you when fans blame Matt Ryan for our downfall, which is just ridiculous. But tell me if all this doesn’t fall on DQ. Tell me he didn’t fail to see that Isaiah Oliver is nowhere near ready. Tell me he didn’t fail to see Vic Beasley is a dud. Tell me he didn’t fail to see his defensive personnel is mediocre at best. DQ’s not talented enough to be a head coach.

Matt: Bill Parcells used to say, “You don’t get medals for trying something, you get medals for results.” I believe that’s true with everything – and I’ve raised my own children believing that. This is Dan Quinn’s team and when it’s all said and done, the head coach is ultimately judged on results – on wins and losses. Quinn knows this team as well as anyone, and he knows what he has talent-wise. I believe he’ll do what he can to correct things and get the Falcons back on track. And as I told James from Atlanta, Ga., (above), I think Quinn has more than earned the chance to right this ship. If you look at his career dating back to his Seattle days, he’s proven that he’s a very good coach. But … Quinn has a big challenge in front of him right now because he’s the head coach of a 1-4 football team right now. And you know the rest … Thanks for the kind words as well as for reading and writing in to SFTB, Robert.

Ken from Allenhurst, GA
Why do you say a three-game slide, when they're 1-4? And why do you keep defending DQ, when the defense positively sucks? Look no further than the game vs the Texans.

Matt: Ken, a three-game slide means three consecutive losses – and that’s what the Falcons have done in their last three games. The game prior to that was a win over the Eagles. The one before the Philadelphia game was a loss to the Vikings. Glad we cleared that up. Am I defending Dan Quinn or merely pointing what he’s done as a head coach and where he’s at now with a 1-4 football team? That’s rhetorical.

Ernie from Flowery Branch, GA
Hey, Beek, this is Ernie in Flowery Branch. Thanks for the work you do here. I think Matt Ryan is great and I agree he isn’t the problem. I have watched the games and the biggest problem I have seen is that the Falcons can’t put a whole game together. I hate to say this, but I wonder if it’s a coaching problem? The Saints are still winning without Drew Brees, that means they are well-coached.

Matt: Thanks, Ernie. The Falcons have had a number of problems in each one of their games. One game it was too many turnovers, another game it was too many penalties. Giving up too many sacks, not forcing enough turnovers and a lack of pressure on the opposing quarterback have also been issues, too. It’s like the Falcons would have a problem, fix it and then have a different problem. It’s been odd and I’m sure extremely frustrating for the coaching staff, too. The good news is that there are still 11 games to go – and plenty of football to be played. Some teams do get better as the seasons goes (remember the Colts started off 1-5 last year and ended up making the playoffs). Time will tell with these Falcons. Do I think it’s a coaching problem? Whether it is or a talent or chemistry problem, it has to be fixed because this is a bottom-line business (as noted above). And the coaches are ultimately judged on that. Regarding what you said about the Saints … it also means that they’re talented, have depth and play well together. And, yes, they’re well-coached, too. It’s funny how the coaches are suddenly good when the team wins.

Robert from Dayton, OH
How come the Falcons stink?

Matt: You say stink, I say 1-4. Most would say they’re the same. Bill Parcells says you are what your record says you are. The season is the ultimate judge – and there are 11 games to go.

Tracy from Franklin, GA
I love the Falcons and am an avid fan. I also am a Matt Ryan fan, have watched every QB ever in the ATL. I do have some real frustrations. T.D. I could never understand his evaluation process when it comes to the trenches. I believed the line is the most important part. Why did they pay Vic Beasley so much to do nothing? Why don’t they bring in the big backs and be the down-hill team? Would help all.

Matt: Vic Beasley had a four-year deal with a fifth-year option and the Falcons agreed to pick it up, banking on him playing well before he becomes an unrestricted free agent following the 2019 season. The offensive line was addressed during the offseason, but an injury to first-round pick Chris Lindstrom in the first game of the season was undoubtedly a setback for the unit. Kaleb McGary, the team’s other first-round pick, also missed substantial team during the preseason due to a cardiac ablation procedure. The big backs you’re referring to – Brian Hill and rookie Qadree Ollison – have not seen a lot of action through five games. Ollison hasn’t been active for any games and Hill has primarily been a special teams contributor. You have to believe the coaches are going to play whoever is going to give them the best chance to win – and for whatever reason, neither Hill nor Ollison has earned any carries yet over Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith.

George from Byron, GA
More of a comment! I am amazed how well you keep your cool with the people that blame Matt Ryan for all our problems! Last time I checked, football is a 22-man sport. Matt throws the ball but WR has to catch or he hands off and line has to block and RB has to hit the hole. Keep up the good work.

Matt: You should see the comments I can’t publish … or my choice words for them! But seriously, fans are passionate, and emotions run high after wins and losses. I get it. My job is to make sure they remember the facts (whether they want to acknowledge them is another story) and to drop the hammer on false or lazy narratives – and have fun with it. But you’re right – it’s a team game.

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