MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The Atlanta Falcons made it to the playoffs this season – one year after losing the Super Bowl.
Not many losing Super Bowl teams return to the postseason the next season, but Atlanta did. And that’s great. But there is absolutely no excuse for what happened last Saturday in Philadelphia, when the Falcons lost to a team that was playing with a backup quarterback and a team that does not have the amount of talent Atlanta has. They lost that game for one reason – coaching.
Dan Quinn got the Falcons to the Super Bowl last year. Again, that’s great. But his lousy coaching is why the Falcons lost to the Patriots. Then this year, Quinn led the Falcons back to the playoffs and they even won a game in the first round. Again, that’s great. But his lousy coaching is why the Falcons lost to the Eagles. Coaches are judged by how they do in the postseason, and this guy is striking out. The look Quinn had on the sideline last week was like he would have preferred to be anywhere else in the world. He looked overwhelmed. He looked like he did last February 5th in Houston.
And then, when the Falcons were driving to try and win the game with the time running out, Quinn’s offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian called two of the most stupid plays you’ll ever see. On second and goal, the Falcons had a shovel pass to Terron Ward, a backup running back. So, you have only a few plays to save your season, and with all the talent on your roster you try a shovel pass to a third-string running back? Then on fourth down from the two, Sarkisian called another questionable play. Matt Ryan rolled to his right, which shortened the field, and he only targeted Julio Jones. Then Ryan overthrew Jones and the game was over.
The season was over.
But why did the Falcons have a blocking fullback in the game and the blocking tight end? Why wouldn’t they have had more than two receivers, two targets for Ryan to throw to? It was a grave mistake. And now, for the second straight season, coaching has cost a very talented Atlanta team.
Dan Quinn has yet to show he can handle the stress of winning in the postseason. When the season is on the line, he’s 0-for-2. And after the season was over, Quinn should have fired Sarkisian. The Atlanta offense went from first in the NFL in scoring last year to 15th. The Falcons scored 33 points per game last season, and then just 22 this season. That should be unacceptable. Would Bill Belichick had allowed that to continue? No, he would have wanted a change.
This Falcons team is talented and should have been playing this weekend. But for the second year in a row, coaching kept this team from winning more. But hey, we’re Falcons fans. We’re used to this. We’ve been disappointed before – for decades – and we’ll be disappointed again. It happens every winter, one way or the other, that the Falcons are just going to mess up any chance they may have to be special.
But this season, it’s just hard to blame it on anything but bad coaching. And it’s a shame it probably won’t change for another two years – probably after two more seasons of Quinn coaching this team and making bad decisions.