The first half of the season is done, to say the least, it’s been less than ideal, and that’s putting it mildly. Forget that, on second thought, I might as well put it bluntly, it’s been abysmal in my vocabulary I can’t find a word to make it pleasant. Heck, you already know the truth. I am attempting to dance around it but somehow paint an accurate picture. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter which words I use a six-game slide that equals to a 1-7 record is what it is.
The only thing that could be done is to hit the reset button in the bye week. Hopefully, they got away from everything football, didn’t think about it, talk about it, hopefully, they went to the beach, mountains or home, wherever that space is located that brings about that refreshing piece of mind.
The Falcons are hoping that the bye week has given them the opportunity to reset. Perhaps it was as simple as a shower to wash away the stench of the first half of the season. My point what’s done is done can’t dwell on it. All they can do from here is concentrate on what’s in front of them, and that’s the back eight.
Coach Quinn spoke about the bye week coming a good time for the team and his personal reset.
“I had to reset as well because you carry that. For me, you want the success for the team, for Arthur [Blank], for the community, the fans – everybody – and when you are not meeting that mark, it definitely weighs on you, and it is heavy. You have to make sure all of our energy and attention is focused on the win. That is really where I put my attention – how do we get better and go? That is really where I put my attention and time and how we can get it there. That is really where I try to put as much time as I can. I am charged up and ready to get rocking.”
To do just that, he has made some coaching changes. Raheem Morris, who coached the wide receivers, will move back to being the secondary coach. Bernie Parmalee, the former Miami Dolphins running back, will be the running backs coach. Dave Brock was working with the running backs he is going back to wide receivers.
Jerome Henderson Defensive Passing Game Coordinator/Secondary Coach seemed enthused, saying,’ he is a fresh set of eyes with new energy, Rah is such a phenomenal person, if you ever been around him, you know what type of person he is, what kind of thinker he is. Then his experience on offense now he is helping us to see things that we didn’t even know. He says things like, no, no, that adjustment is because of this, and it’s been a really good start of the week with him over on this side of the ball.
Again his eyes and his perspective are unique hard to find guys in this league that did it at a high level on both sides and can relate to both sides with both perspectives. So I think they will feed off him quite a bit.
It appears as if though they are grasping at the smallest of things to bring about improvement. Something had to be done. I guess if you didn’t terminate the head coach, one strategy is to move the coaches around, if not for any other reason, to get a different voice in the ears of players.
It seems like a small thing, but when you can’t find the missing ingredient and have all the talent in the world, you have to do something. Perhaps the move will settle the fan base; they can see you are doing something different at least that can be pitched.
As bad as it’s been, the good news is they have not played an NFC South opponent which brings about a ray of hope. The bad news is they have them all lined up six of the back eight starting this weekend with the New Orleans Saints, which presents the top of the mountain instead of the bottom where they can reave up to the task. They are 12 point underdogs.
Drew Brees is back after a five-week break caused by an injury to his hand, he returned last week as good as ever completing 34 of 43 passes for 373 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception drawing respect from Dan Quinn, “It is hard to think that you can improve after sitting out five games but somehow he [Drew Brees] did that.
I think the Saints had around 500 yards of total offense in the game. I think that over the years, there has been consistency in his ability to deliver the ball in the right spot in the right space. You are not going to confuse him a lot with looks, but his ability to put the ball in the right location to the right player – from a scheme standpoint, they have done similar things but with different people in some of those roles.
He has been the constant and certainly has all of the respect from us for that. You can go back to 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, all the way up until now, and some of the concepts will look the same, but he is the one who is at the front of the execution.”
Jerome Henderson had a more detailed level of respect for the future Hall of Famer.
Drew is such a phenomenal player. You know you watch him how he does everything very meticulous in his prep. You can see that. He has command of their offense and can get them in and out of trouble based on his information his time in the system you can see him at the line of scrimmage identifying looks and expose a defense and take advantage of it. Moving guys around and doing that extra step to get that exact match up he wants or the exact look he wants and manipulates the defense, he will be a tough challenge for us.”
That might be an understatement considering the Falcons are allowing 31 points a game and struggling to get pressure and sacks on the quarterback, leaving the defensive backs more vulnerable than they are by themselves. Communication has been a major issue exposing weaknesses; thus, the move with Coach Raheem Morris, who has a plethora of defensive back coaching experience.
Let’s hope the time away will be as favorable for Matt Ryan, who missed his first game since 2009, breaking a 163 consecutive games streak. Sometimes getting away is a good thing you get to see things from a different perspective.
Matt Ryan and Desmond Trufant returned to practice the head coach was optimistic, “Matt will get some practice work today. He’ll be in a limited fashion, but we’re getting him back into the groove today. [Desmond] Trufant as well. It will be good to have both of those guys back in action and doing some form of participation today. We’ll ramp them up as the week goes, but it will be good to have them back in action today.”
After cutting ties with Matt Bryant, the greatest kicker the franchise has ever seen, Younghoe Koo, the first kicker in Georgia Southern history to be named a finalist for the Lou Groza Award, has been signed as the fifth kicker this season. He comes by way of the New England Patriots practice squad and the Atlanta Legends of the AAF, where he was 14 for 14 field goals. Those last numbers bring about optimism.
For most of the season, the Falcons have played better in the second half of games none more impressive than the last versus the Seattle Seahawks, where they fought back from a 24-0 half time deficit to avoid embarrassment before a sparse home crowd. They shut it all down, allowing only 3 points and 21 rushing yards in the second half. Russell Wilson could muster only 182 passing yards his least productive of the season.
Considering they are in the second half of the season, they are hoping that philosophy carries them for the rest of the way.
Matt Ryan has the right approach, “You know, it’s trying to win one football game. That’s my approach. This week is trying to stay present in what we’re doing right now, trying to make sure that we put in a good week’s worth of work and win this one football game. Trying to knock those wins out one in a row as we go. My focus isn’t really any further than just the opponent that we have this week.”
As in life, sometimes you set lofty goals; however, along the way, they can be adjusted to something attainable as long as it a step in the direction of the ultimate success. Surely the Falcons were thinking Super Bowl at the beginning of the season; at this point, playoffs would be miraculous; some may say winning two games in a row.
I asked coach Quinn the question considering your current circumstances from here, what does success look like to you?
“I told the team the division starts, and we want to throw it as hard as we could for this four-game block. We get a chance to play on Thanksgiving, and what I like about playing on a Thursday is that you get a chance to reset and go. We will then have a very good sense of where we are in the division with the four-game block coming up. Then we still have some division games obviously right after that. In this four-game block, I hope that success would look like a positive turnover margin and excellent communication on all three phases. On the special teams’ side, I would like to see winning field position and effective kicking and punting.
Those are some of the things that I discussed. If we do those things right, a lot of the other things will take care of themselves, but we have been way off in that space. Turnover margin, communication, and field position on the special teams – I can’t tell you how important those three things are. Those will be a good way to tell where we will be in a month’s time.”
To see if the reset button was programmed correctly, this week, the Falcons are facing their biggest test in the NFC, the New Orleans Saints; it’s party time on Bourbon Street and perhaps a lifeline to the season.