From 6-1 to shut out in Charlotte: What happened to the Falcons?

Angry Birds. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

Angry Birds. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

CHARLOTTE — These short takes are presented as an adjunct to the Falcons-Panthers game column, which can be found here. The Panthers won 38-0. The Panthers are 13-0. The Falcons are not.

1. We begin with a detailed recap of all the Falcons’ scoring plays.

(Blank space.)

2. We continue with a rundown of all the things the Falcons did right.

(More blank space.)

3. So, frivolity aside, what happened to this team? It’s clear the Falcons weren’t as good as they looked when they were 5-0 and then 6-1, but we pretty much knew that. They entered the season with the league’s softest schedule, and they took advantage – until they started losing to all comers. The schedule has toughened, but only a bit. In their six-game losing streak, the Falcons have been beaten by the 49ers, the Colts and the Buccaneers (twice). None of those teams is above .500.

What nobody could have imagined was that the Falcons’ offense would be the chief culprit. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones haven’t missed a game, but Ryan was again substandard (two turnovers, two fumbles, three sacks, a passer rating of 71.2) and Jones was rendered just another guy (88 yards on seven catches). In the second quarter, the Falcons faced first-and-10 at the Carolina 20. After a first-down sack and fumble and Jones recovery, it was second-and-36. They wound up punting. The Falcons have scored a first-half touchdown in only two of their past seven games. They’ve scored a grand total of three touchdowns over the past three games. (By way of contrast, they scored three in the second half against Dallas on Sept. 27.)

Let’s give the Panthers their due. They’re really good. (Maybe you guessed as much from their record.) They’ve developed an offense to complement their brawny defense, and that wasn’t always a given: Kelvin Benjamin, their best wide receiver, was lost in training camp to injury. They hit the Falcons hard early – it was 14-0 after 6 ½ minutes, 21-0 after a quarter, 28-0 at the half — and the Falcons seemed interested in hitting somebody after the whistle than before it. Coach Dan Quinn gathered his men on the sideline during the first half to lambaste their lack of poise, and afterward asked what single silly thing prompted his tirade. He couldn’t recall. There were so many silly things.

The scariest part about Sunday’s flop was that the Falcons didn’t start turning the ball over – they finished with four, all in the second half – until they were too far behind for it to matter. They were simply overwhelmed by Carolina’s excellence, and a team with talents on the order of Ryan and Jones and Devonta Freeman and Desmond Trufant and Vic Beasley Jr. shouldn’t be overwhelmed. Over the first seven games, the Falcons mostly played to their strengths. Over the past six, it’s as they have no strengths. When they were 6-1, you felt a corner had been turned. Today it feels as if every advance made then has been canceled by what has become a retreat on roller skates. This isn’t the worst stretch of Falcons football we’ve ever seen, but it’s among the most disheartening.

Reader Comments 0

188 comments
michaelwb
michaelwb

The AJC really is an awful sports website. I can't believe I pay for this. 

19palmer49
19palmer49

Agree this is the WORST sports Internet page ever. I am unsubsrcibing . PLEASE shut it down. No real time scores. Same articles stay up forever.Awful!!!

ShootinTheHooch
ShootinTheHooch

The real culprit is Bradley. It's his fault for saying the Falcons would make the playoffs when they were 6 and 1...the kiss of death! Just like it was his fault for Richt being fired because he wrote that Richt could not get the job done, although in that case he was just stating the obvious.

moh236
moh236

Mr. Blank, Please get rid of TD and have Shanahan banned from the state of Ga.

Give Ryan another year with a REAL OC and then decide if he's truly washed up or not.

Jeff Archer
Jeff Archer

You all are crazy talking about get rid of DQ the problem is talent. You need to get rid of TD and the other problem is Kyle and how you going to say Vic is a bust it's his rookie season you don't expect the man to have 20 sacks his rookie year he has 3 sacks he will only get better once he add a few more pounds and learn some more moves GTFoh I can say Matt arm isn't the strongest so they should look at drafting a Qb in the later rounds next year though and the Oline need work when your Qb only has 2.3 secs to get rid of the ball smh any Qb would get frustrated and turn over the ball!!

Trainer2013
Trainer2013

I'm sorry for this short rant. The AJC website IS sorry. Just a malware/cookie trap. And what is it with the locked in, no real coverage on the day of the game crap. You have to go to sources out of town to get reviews of the Atlanta teams.


Well, like the Falcons on the field, the AJC doesn't have a clue on how to run a newspaper in the digital age.


On to the Falcons.


What's old is new. We've lived in Atlanta for 26 years and all of this is so familiar. Look, Atlanta is a town that's ALL about making a deal that makes a few people some money. That's how the town was built. That's the culture of the city. You can't really complain, if you know that THAT'S the deal. The bottom line.


Atlanta sports owners want to do deals more than get championships. What's on the field is less important than selling the IDEA of having a sports team. Selling tickets, jerseys, building new stadiums, real estate deals; THAT'S where Atlanta owner's hearts are.


The Falcons will be 6-10 and Blank is happy. 


It's the Falcons.


Merry Xmas.

georgiamd
georgiamd

Thomas Dimitroff would not recognize football talent if it bit him in the butt! Look at his draft record (horrible) and look at the players he shipped out and suddenly became valuable contributors for their next team. Couple this with the fact Matt Ryan has become a very ordinary quarterback making poor decisions to go along with his poor throws. He either overthrows or underthrows 50% of his passes. This team is doomed until it brings in someone who can properly evaluate football players and their worth to the team.

SaulK
SaulK

if matt learns that complicated offense, maybe atl can win 8 games next year!! Forward!

Keryia
Keryia

It takes time to prove and show worth and weakness I see no change and no progress we need new players coaches and scouts and new upper level management people who are driven with vision people who have heart and passion for the game really Authur Blank we got to have best and Better not this what Authur Blank you have brought this upon ATLANTA fix it NOW .

Keryia
Keryia

Mr. Blank now is the time of action your front office and your scouts needs to be gone Make this Happen Authur Blank this is your Show piece complete JUNK

SaulK
SaulK

@Keryia is arthur reading this blog??? Billionaires should have gofers that take care of that stuff!

Keryia
Keryia

This is the Real FALCONS worst at the very best this is a top to bottom Complete problems the front office has to go be gone already until this happens it will always be more of the same weak and empty why do Atlanta keep and stay with has been Players and keep picking useless players Dimitroff has to be gone NOW .

JB Falcon
JB Falcon

@Keryia Where did you learn to write so well? You know, commas, periods, things like that? 

WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR
WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR

The Falcons game plan:  Just throw the ball to Who-lio and keep his stats up.  Keep believing in Beasley though no one else does in the NFL.  Keep hoping Matt Ryan is a franchise QB.  Keep buying the O-line is terrible (not even close to the worst in the NFL).  And by all means, center your defense around no name talent at all positions.

WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR
WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR

Seriously, this is a bad team.  They were a bad team at 6-1 because they played NOBODY.  Their schedule was the weakest in the NFL.  Dan Quinn bought into a pipe dream of Blank's and was promoted beyond his competence.  My prediction for the future Quinn years (2 more) . . . . PAIN.

Keryia
Keryia

@WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR  I agree for me the wrong coach and worst players on offense and defense is worst ever

patriotdog
patriotdog

Well, the new law that one has to have a passport for domestic flights will make living in Atlanta just like living in Moscow during the Cold War...they didn't have pro football, either, and you needed 'papers' to travel.

chalkdawg4
chalkdawg4

Plenty of room to get in at corporate sponsor stadium preview.  May be the only thing more screwed up as this website.  sure I will be flagged.

Jimpaper
Jimpaper

Well one thing we have found out. The Genius behind Home Depot's success was not blank.  Listening to an OC explain after a 38-0 shutout that his scheme still works is beyond disgusting it is just stupid. Thank goodness this team only has 3 lousy games left 

SaulK
SaulK

there are more big busts on the falcons roster than a roomful of playboy playmates! the team sucks to the core!

TPCP
TPCP

Please explain to me again why Matt Ryan is an elite QB? .... Well, he's having a rough year and it's all the O-Line's fault. It's Shanahan's fault. It's his receiver's fault. It's the cheerleader's fault. It's everybody's fault but Ryan's! That's why the Boston scare-crow  has 5 million turnovers in his 8th year in the league. A team's QB has to be the leader of the offence. If he plays lousy, it filters down to the whole squad. You can't rise any higher than your leader. Get rid of Ryan, Shanahan, Dimitroff, and find some people who want to win. Fire them all!

Jmonty
Jmonty

@TPC He's not.  He is just a slight better than average QB.  With our crappy O line, no QB would do good.  Heck, it's a wonder Ryan isn't doing Aflac commercials at this point.  He does not have a strong arm.  So, the deep ball doesn't threaten most teams.  Added to that, he barely has time to plant his feet, so his passes are rushed.  Part of the blame is Ryan.  However; I put most of it on the O line.  They can't block, nor open holes for our RB's.  Do we need a new QB?  Probably..  Is there one on the block that is better than Ryan?  No.  Best we can do is find one late in the draft.  However; our O line, D line and LBs all need replaced.  That is what I imagine they will work on next year. 

TOJacket
TOJacket

@Jmonty @TPC He is much better than an average QB. Wrong offense for Matt...........are you telling me you think he wants to throw 4-5-6 yard passes the whole game?

NativeAtlantan57
NativeAtlantan57

CNN BREAKING NEWS: General George Tecumseh Sherman has broken through the Atlanta Falcons offensive line untouched and is marching his way to the sea.

TPCP
TPCP

@NativeAtlantan57  I don't know who George T. Sherman is but if his brother is William T. Sherman, then break out the beach chairs, because he'll be in Savannah before night fall.

HymanRoth
HymanRoth

With total respect, Sir...Vic Beasley? You're joking, right?

Cupofjoe
Cupofjoe

Nothing to read here as the world was saved by 100’s of world leaders last week including the world renowned climatologist Kerry- whew- I thought he was simply a meteorologist.

Hold onto your wallets and watch new millionaires and great companies and foundations focused on the climate effect of the hooked nose Portuguese owl.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Hmmmm....Hawks stumbling, Falcons stumbling, Braves face down in the dirt......are we back to being "Loserville"?

TOJacket
TOJacket

@TideDawg @TOJacket Exactly!.......Tech folks are over-achievers!.........we beat a top 10 team.....the one you guys played embarrassed y'all on beloved Sanford and son.....in fact Tech played 4 teams in the top 10.......SOS was much tougher than the SEC Least 3rd place team?.......guess half of you felt good after that game.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@TOJacket @TideDawg SOS! Is that a call for help? Typical Tech fan...ask a simple question and get a recap of the season. Actually, I don't have anything against Tech or it's fans. I just don't like their coach. That's a personal feeling that means nothing to anyone but me. Yeah! Yeah! I know! Tech had a great year...LAST YEAR! How's that working for you this year?

TOJacket
TOJacket

@TideDawg @TOJacket We Tech fans have a great year every year!......why the grudge against CPJ? He is a very good Coach.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TideDawg 

"Back" to being Losersville???

Have we won a championship the past two decades?

Have we won more than one the past half-century?

No "back" to it, TD--regrettably.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@DawgNole @TOJacket @TideDawg We have beat the dawgs and the Noles in the last year and 2 weeks........your teams must be in the City Limits huh Mrs. Landers? 22-16.....We run your other State sport......LOL

Jmonty
Jmonty

@DawgNole @TOJacket @TideDawg How does a Falcon blog turn into a pissing match between GT and UGA??  Geez..  Plain and simple both teams sucked this year...We just sucked a lot more.  Pretty much sums it up.  CPJ is a good college coach.  He has a great graduation rate and puts school before playing.  I can't say the same for many other colleges.  Yeah... 3-9 is not what we wanted.  But, as long as we have the DC we have, it's going to happen.  Keep is classy guys. 

TideDawg
TideDawg

I wonder what Arthur Blank did when Home Depot was making huge profits and then dropped down to the "squeaking by profits" with a nosedive of stock price. Whatever!! Would it work with the Falcons?

Gatorzone
Gatorzone

Worse than being upset...  I have gone back to not caring anymore...

Jmonty
Jmonty

@TOJacket @Gatorzone The players care.... they care whether they get a pay check.  Other than that??  Yeah...that's about it.   Until they fix that crappy O line and that thing called a defense, we won't get any better. 

TOJacket
TOJacket

@Jmonty @TOJacket @Gatorzone Art better quit playing grab-a$$ on the sideline and as my mama used to say.....have a little prayer meeting with some folks?

TOJacket
TOJacket

@Gatorzone It's hard to care sometimes when you have some players that obviously don't care.

Falcons4Eva
Falcons4Eva

@Gatorzone Totally Agree.  When the fan base don't care, getting upset is the least of Blanks worries. Its going to take a major overhaul to get the fans back - it starts with the firing of Thomas DimWit and then sorry Kyle Shannahan.