It’s going so badly the Falcons have fled the country

Exiting Baltimore, bound for Blighty. (Gail Burton/AP photo)

Exiting Baltimore, bound for Blighty. (Gail Burton/AP photo)

Exiting Baltimore, bound for Blighty. (Gail Burton/AP photo)

Exiting Baltimore, bound for Blighty. (Gail Burton/AP photo)

After a month like this, you’d think about fleeing the country, too. The Atlanta Falcons have lost four consecutive games by the aggregate score of 127-68. (Not-so-fun fact: The Falcons beat Tampa Bay 56-14 in September and have still been outscored by opponents by 28 points on the season.) They’re 2-5. Not one of their losses has been by single digits.

We started off thinking (for good reason) that their defense was lousy. Now their offense is, too. They’ve scored 40 points and four touchdowns in three games. The lowest three-game output for the 2013 Falcons — who finished 4-12, you’ll recall — was 33 points against Arizona, Carolina and Seattle, but all three of those teams wound up winning at least 10 games. This brings us to the truly sobering part.

The Vikings beat the Falcons 41-28 and haven’t won since. The Giants beat the Falcons 30-20 and haven’t won since. The Bears beat the Falcons 27-13 and lost 27-14 at home to the Dolphins on Sunday. Going back to Sept. 14, the Bengals beat the Falcons 24-10 and have won once since. Since beating the Falcons, those four teams are an aggregate 1-8-1. (Guess the Ravens should be stepping lightly, huh?)

The Falcons flew to London’s Gatwick Airport after losing in Baltimore, and maybe a week spent in England will provide the bonding experience this desperate team needs. Something good better happen soon, or else what was billed as a bounceback season will continue to devolve into a collapse so comprehensive that the only men sure to be left standing in Flowery Branch will be Arthur Blank, who owns the team, and Rich McKay, who can survive anything.

At this moment, the Falcons have only two things going for them — this week’s change of scenery and the NFC South. Their division is the NFL’s worst by three miles, and never has it looked more feeble than it did Sunday. The Falcons lost by 20 in Baltimore. The Saints blew a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter against the Lions, who’ll face the Falcons at Wembley on Sunday. The Panthers, who lead the division despite holding a .500 record, trailed 38-3 in a loss to Green Bay.

It’s possible that 8-8 could win the South. At issue is whether the Falcons can muster the 6-3 finish that 8-8 would require. Given that there are road dates at Carolina, Green Bay and New Orleans ahead, Sunday’s “home” game against Detroit qualifies as a Must Win. And here we look on the bright side: When last the Falcons won a game outside the Georgia Dome, it was also outside the United States — against Buffalo in Toronto on Dec. 1, 2013.

Reader Comments 0

116 comments
ColdSplash
ColdSplash

Rich McKay is like John Schuerholz, both realized they needed to "promote"themselves up to "President" and out of the GM job they both know would have their arSses canned with the rosters and organization moves they BOTH have been a part of the last decade. Atlanta sports franchise front office personnel are abject political scum artists that are all living off the millions us suckers are paying these idiots. And Wren and soon to be Dimitroff are and will be the suckers that pay the price for both these scum bags.

DealMe
DealMe

relax --- rich mckay and thomas are working some deals to get a new wide receiver for 5 draft picks---julio getting old!

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

As they did with McKay years ago, time to promote TD to President and find a new GM. I don't understand the logic but it seems to be the Falcons way.

SaintsInLosAngelesBy2020
SaintsInLosAngelesBy2020

"It’s possible that 8-8 could win the South." 

It's possible that 6-10 or 6-9-1 could win this division, which will net the champ an embarrassing thrashing at home by a wild card team. Carolina is not too good, but if they can't win this train wreck called the South, then shame on them.

 In 2012, 7-9 was the worst record in the South. Can any team reach that level in 2014?


Trivia: Name the only franchise in NFL history to lose a playoff game to a team with a losing record.

Hint: Who dat?

Princess_Leia
Princess_Leia

The Limeys are welcome to keep the Falcants.

MikeS777
MikeS777

Good column, Mark.  I think this team needs to move back to the ground and pound that got them good in the first place.  They used to pound the rock with Michael Turner, and Matt Ryan complemented that.  Once they decided to go all pass happy, they lost that run identity.  To be honest, they aren't all that good at it.  As you have pointed out before, that 2012 season included a lot of close games won.  This passing attack has been wildly inconsistent since day one.

Now Tony Gonzalez was a great trade, but I think they are now paying for the Julio Jones trade.  There is a serious lack of depth on this team, and the overall talent on the defense is not where it needs to be.  Those picks could have helped with both the O line and defense.  They have also tied way too much money in the offensive skill guys to allow for them to shore up other areas.

"Old Man Football" still wins this league.  Ask Seattle, Baltimore, the Giants, and now the Cowboys have picked that up running Murray the way they have this year.  The Falcons are already having to bring in extra blockers to help the patchwork O line.  I say we use this stable of RBs they have now, and get back to pounding the rock.  Let Ryan and the WRs be a complement of that running game.  Give the O lineman a chance to be aggressive and go after the defense.  Throw in an occasional screen.

Get back to letting the run set up the pass.  Then when teams stack the box, it's play action time going over the top to Jones and White.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

@MikeS777 Good observations.  That is how it worked before.  But we don't have a Michael Turner or a good offensive line anymore so unlikely it will work.  You have to play to your strengths and sadly, that is at the receiver position.  There's just not much talent left on this team after Matt Ryan and the punter and kicker - period.


This is all on Thomas Dimitroff (just like the Braves and Frank Wren).  The cupboards are bare.  Bad drafts/bad signings - and this is what you get and have to work with and so it goes.  Season over with the slightest injuries.  Looked shaky before the season - looks pathetic now.

VeryDisgusted
VeryDisgusted

@MikeS777 


Remember that Cleveland did not get much out of the draft picks from the Julio Jones trade. 


TD might not have fared any better had he kept those picks.  His record of picking has not been so good


TD and this coaching staff are equally culpable. 


There has been the good and the bad and this bad of a yr and a half looks ireparable

dawg4u
dawg4u

I am talking about straight drop back passes on mostly second or third and long. please get Antone Smith the ball more also!

dawg4u
dawg4u

The offensive coordinator of the Falcons should try more screens and draw plays plus any trick or misdirection plays that he can implement for us. A straight drop back pass given the awful state of our depleted offensive line is pure suicide and can eventually lead to Ryan being injured. TD is to blame for the sad state of the offensive line plus a very porous defense. He concentrated on the skill positions only much to the detriment of our offensive and defensive lines. The Falcons never win the battle on the line of scrimmage and until that changes then all the great skill position guys will be wasted!


Gizzle
Gizzle

Coach Smith needs to go.  We need to start anew now to build the necessary momentum before moving into the new stadium.  We have seen his best and its not good enough.  Thanks Coach Smith but we desire bigger/better things that you are incapable of delivering.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

@Gizzle Buy your Ford F-150 to thank Coach Smith and then bounce him out of there and hire Marty Shottenheimer.  He's still got it and will turn this team around.

bennyhayes
bennyhayes

No need to analyze and say "if only..."   The fundamentals of the game remain blocking and tackling. Falcons can do neither. Talent level is below every other team in the league in the trenches, even without injuries.Years of bad drafting of non-SEC players on the lines. 





DealMe
DealMe

while in london, thomas will trade 5 draft picks for a soccer player!

BravoDawg
BravoDawg

What a joke! Falcons could be playing on the moon, they will get smoked anytime, anywhere! bahahahaha

VeryDisgusted
VeryDisgusted

The Falcons could try something different and go for Richie Incognito or Eric Winston  but they choose to sign these practice squad BUMBS instead. 



zuzu331
zuzu331

Would Schultz's Personal Seat License cost extra,for accomodating where his brains reside?

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

Arthur's a little embarrassed about the product the Falcons are putting on the field so he's offered the following concessions to season ticket holders that feel jilted at this point:

1) A free evening with the cheerleader of your choice with his full support - hotel room included

2) For the ardent football fans such as himself, one free afternoon at a game roaming the sideline with Arthur where you and he can sniff the jockstraps together under Mike Smith's supervision


See, it is great to be a Falcons fan isn't it?

DealMe
DealMe

@TreeRollins will the offer also include a $500 bottle of champagne from arthur's collection?  If so, will it be french??

Falcon in Balt/DC
Falcon in Balt/DC

Fellow Fans,

I live and work in the Wash, DC/Baltimore Metropolitan area and all of my friends, family , and business associates know that I'm a life-long Falcons Fan. Well, today I got clowned with a new line......

What's closed in Atlanta on Sundays.....Chick-fil-a and the Falcons. 


Not easy being a fan right now ;-(.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

@Falcon in Balt/DC Spoke to a friend that couldn't get rid of 2 of his tickets to the last home game against Chicago so he left them on his windshield for the next guy.


Came back to his car after the game and found his 2 tickets and 4 more tucked in with them where he left them!


Good luck with the new stadium PSL's Mr Blank!

njsportsguy
njsportsguy

Can you imagine how much better an Atlanta football fan's life would be if Lamar Hunt had been able to get the  Kansas City Chiefs to move to Atlanta back in the 1960's???

VeryDisgusted
VeryDisgusted

I would like to see Ryan get a chance in another city where he would be appreciated more and had a team that could develop a line in front of him


There is an element of fans who will never accept him


Matty Ice would make a great Bear -- or a Jet.  Maybe some fans would like Geno Smth for Matty Ice -- just saying

Esquire
Esquire

@DisgustedFan  I would like to see Matty Ice grow a pair and get in the faces of some of these lame a_ _ players.  Being "Mr. Compsure" is not what this team needs.

LakeDawg
LakeDawg

@slydawg


Not only have his coach and GM failed him, but Blank has failed him. Blank hired a GM that doesn't have a clue and a coach who goes along with his roster management.

vesaversa
vesaversa

@DisgustedFan Hell No ! Ryan is a far better QB he just need a real coach and a front line to protect him.

slydawg
slydawg

Ryan is accepted by a majority of the fans. That's all that matters. Fact is, his coach and GM have failed him and put him in a no win situation. Now this team must be completely rebuilt and it's going to take at least three years. It's ok though. Most QB's either won a Super Bowl early in their careers or in their 30's. If he wants to go to another team before that, then so be it.

GeorgeJuarez
GeorgeJuarez

@DisgustedFan The way he's being hit his new nickname will be Matty "Melted " Ice, poor guy has no line to protect him and I'm surprised that he doesn't spent long periods of time on the injury list

VeryDisgusted
VeryDisgusted

The Falcons have drafted lineman such as Baker, Jerry, Konz, etc but they have not been very good. 


And Hageman is a bust in progress & Jake Matthews is no savior as of yet


The Smith & Dimitroff show should be closed down after this yr - two yrs like this are unacceptable


But they have not been total flops -- they did have 5 good yrs and are no longer effective now

Rickster_
Rickster_

Any chance we could revoke their passports so they can't get back in the country?

PeachtreeBart
PeachtreeBart

This is a unique perspective--hadn't considered that the time abroad might release the pressure off the Birds and help them have fun, bond, and play loose.  That defense just doesn't seem to have the requisite talent, though.  And the play-calling stinks.  Hard to fix all of that on the 6-hour flight.

Esquire
Esquire

The Falcons desperately need rest.  The good news is they will get the benefit of an extra one hours sleep with Daylight Savings Time change twice.  Once October 26th in London, and then again here in the USA on November 2nd.  Too bad that is there Bye week, with that extra hours sleep I am sure they would be ready for battle.  Yep.  

KeepinItSimple
KeepinItSimple

Maybe every fan feels this way across the country, but it sure seems like the local teams here suffer more injuries than the norm.  Braves lose pitchers non-stop.  Falcons can't keep starters on the field (OL, LB, WR, you name it).  The Bulldogs lost four WR's and two RB's last year, and are just as bad off this year, while a few years back we lost three or four starting OL's three straight years if I remember (calling for the S&C coach to be let go).  The Hawks have lost Horford the last two years and he is considered by many to be their best player and one of the top 30 or so in the NBA.  


I am not making excuses, but what is going on?


As for the Falcons and Dimitroff.  Apparently he did NOT learn the New England way.  In New England they rarely gave big money to WR's or RB's.  They gave money to keep and get quality linemen.  The Falcons hae done the exact opposite.  How many recent Super Bowl winners have been better on offense than on defense?  Two in the last seven years I believe, and they were dominant on offense which the Falcons are not.  How many offensive juggernauts have flamed out in the playoffs?  It's easier to build a contender through defense than it is through offense.  


I sure wish the Falcons would change their philosophy.  Linemen and defense first, offense second.  And stop spending on over the hill free agents hoping to fill in the gaps.  We have too many gaps to fill and stay in a good cap situation.  We should not be hurting ourselves by bringing in overpriced vets (even if they are good), when we could fill two spots with younger talent.  

drewK
drewK

Hilarious the city agreed to a billion dollar stadium for a loser of a team. 

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

I see the Falcons are going to teach London kids how to play football.  That could only mean they will give the kids belts with little velcro American flags to wear, telling them, "just touch the runner with the ball until the flag falls off."  "Try not to use your arms or shoulders to hit anyone."  "The objective of defense is to get the ball back to the offense as soon as possible, and that is done fastest by not covering receivers."  Hopefully, London will not declare war on Atlanta in 20 years.

Football Redneck
Football Redneck

TD and Smitty was given another year to straighten this team out after last year's losing team.Wow did they ever!!The team is probably worse than last year's team but hey we got to be on hard knocks.Time to give this team a good enema,need to clean house.

Iluvnutella
Iluvnutella

@Football Redneck  I would give Smitty moar time, but akin to the boyz on North Ave, I think Fish-fry and Dimitroff have run their respective courses.

gfw
gfw

Of course it's foolish to think that a football team reflects upon the quality of its home city; but in fact lots and lots of people are foolish, and anyone in pr/marketing will tell you that in fact it makes a huge difference to a city if its NFL team is a winner.  Not just a psychological difference...an economic difference.  Winning teams create (however irrationally) an association of the home city with excellence.  People want to live there, businesses want to locate there.  So our hapless team, with its hapless GM (who was hired due to a mystifying blind spot in the owner) is not doing Atlanta any good.  You know, "losersville," as some are again calling it.  It would frankly be better for us for Blank to move the team than to continue down the road we are on.  Ah, but he isn't going to do that, is he?  (He's got that stadium thing going on.)  So...do YOU have confidence that Blank can quickly turn this team around, firing TD and Smitty and bringing in new guys?  Are YOU confident Blank is up to picking really smart, talented people to run the Falcons, to make the cuts and trades and free agency signings that will be necessary to raise the team to well-above-average in the NFL? 

LakeDawg
LakeDawg

@gfw


No, I'm not confident. I think Blank is a quieter Jerry Jones. He has a massive ego and doesn't want to turn the team over to professionals. He would rather hand pick HIS guys and show everybody how he picked under the radar types and won.

StingerSplash
StingerSplash

I miss the Monday heat check, MB. And whither Schultz and his alter ego, the Count? They make such a cute couple. One a bloodsucking creature of the undead.  And the other The Count.

TrueFan1
TrueFan1

Let A. Smith and Freeman be put in on 1st and 2nd downs. put jackson in on thrid and short or long. 

Guyon
Guyon

Dimitroff does not understand the needs of a NFL football team. You begin with a good offensive line. They protect the QB, open holes for the backs, and keep the defense off the field. He began the destruction of the offensive line last year and has continued this year. Thus, the Falcons have won 6 games for the two years. Super Bowl teams have very good offensive lines. Detroit's defense is going to beat the Falcons silly. I hope Ryan doesn't get hurt. He has had to pass very quickly or run for his life. Next Sunday will be very ugly. Dimitroff has to go. 

Wilbo
Wilbo

Stop w the playoffs talk, please, would ya, Homer Domer! The Falcons do not belong in ANY type of playoff.


Football can be such a weird game, watch this sorry useless team beat the Lions 38-17 in Wembley.


The only bad side to that would be you n your goofy sidekick who gets his dog to pick games would be right back to predicting postseason possibility.


TrueFan1
TrueFan1

If we could just fix our offensive line, smitthy would take care of the defense.

Football Redneck
Football Redneck

Hell,Manchester United would be favored by 7 pts over the Falcons