Before heading to Houston, Julio Jones said the Falcons needed to “at least score 21, 28 points a game” if they were going to get things back on track.
Jones also added that “everybody just has to fix themselves first.” But before they can fix anything, the Falcons must figure out who they are first.
The Falcons ended up scoring 32 points but it’s clear there’s a lot that still needs to be fixed, especially on defense, as they ended up losing by 21 to the Texans on Sunday and falling to 1-4 on the year.
The 53 points surrendered to Houston (3-2) was the most a Falcons team has allowed since they gave up 56 to the Kansas City Chiefs back in 2004.
So, who exactly are these Falcons and how do they fix things? Right now, the only definitive thing we can say about them is that they’re a 1-4 football team sitting in fourth place of the NFC South.
But they’re more than that.
The Falcons, who entered Sunday’s game with the 11th-ranked offense in the league, trotted out Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Mohamed Sanu, Alex Mack (and a few other guys with Pro Bowls under their belts) onto the field at NRG Stadium.
The proven firepower is clearly there and, as we saw in Houston, they’re capable of scoring points. Yet through five games, the Falcons offense is only averaging just 20.4 points per game.
That’s not cutting it. Why? Do the math.
While the Falcons’ defense began the day ranked No. 9 in total defense (No. 15 vs. the rush, No. 25 vs. the pass), that unit is now giving up an average of 30.4 points though five games.
Making matters worse, the Falcons surrendered 592 yards of total offense to the Texans – many of them coming on several explosive plays. Houston averaged 8.8 yards per play while tallying 10 pass plays of at least 14 yards, including eight of 20 yards or more.
In short, the big-yardage plays made by Deshaun Watson and Co. did the Falcons defense in. Watson finished his day completing 28 of 33 passes for 426 yards and five touchdowns – and a perfect QB rating of 158.3 to boot.
After the game Dan Quinn said the Falcons’ backs are “against the wall” and that “it’s gut-check time for us.”
He also added that “this is a group that’s not going wait by and hope it gets fixed.”
Quinn and the Falcons are going to spend the week out in Arizona preparing for their coming game against the Cardinals and, I imagine, do a little soul-searching as they try to find their identity and get things, well, fixed.
As far as who the Falcons are and what exactly they hope to be moving forward, Matt Ryan might already have the answer.
“It’s about being a point-scoring machine,” Ryan said last Wednesday.
Ryan, who was named the league’s MVP in 2016, knows a thing or two about high-scoring offenses. He, along with many of the current Falcons still on this roster, averaged a league-best 33.8 points per game in 2016 – and that culminated with a Super Bowl run.
“We have not been that; we haven’t done a good enough job of that up until this point,” Ryan said.
If the Falcons hope to turn this season around, becoming “a point-scoring machine” sounds like a fine place to start.
It’s who they are. And it makes sense, mathematically speaking.