Falcons hit desperation mode ahead of Monday date with Packers
Dan Quinn is sitting squarely on the hot seat and the Atlanta coach may need an upset victory to retain his job when the Falcons visit the Green Bay Packers on Monday night.
Quinn’s job status took a downward plunge following the Falcons going from a pair of probable wins to painful losses. With back-to-back double-digit fourth-quarter leads blown the past two weeks, the Falcons (0-3) are huge underdogs as they take on the unbeaten Packers (3-0) at Lambeau Field.
Not surprisingly, questions pertaining to unemployment isn’t a topic to Quinn’s liking.
“Any time I take away from that, it takes away from the team and the focus for Monday night,” Quinn said. “So, it doesn’t do any value to discuss it much further than that.”
Back-to-back collapses aren’t going to be ignored by fans of the club. Owner Arthur Blank certainly isn’t too thrilled over a winless start that follows back-to-back losing campaigns.
Atlanta lost its season opener to the Seattle Seahawks 38-25. But the Falcons appeared to be solidly rebounding with a 15-point fourth-quarter lead over Dallas. But the Cowboys rallied for 16 unanswered points over the final 4:57 for a 40-39 victory.
Last week, the Falcons built a 16-point fourth quarter lead against Chicago before things again went awry. The Bears erupted for 20 straight points over the final 6:20 to notch a 30-26 win.
Neither of those two forgettable outcomes rate as the most embarrassing result during Quinn’s six-season tenure.
He superbly guided Atlanta to the Super Bowl following the 2016 season — routing the Packers 44-21 in the NFC title game — and his team was whipping the New England Patriots 28-3 late in the third quarter. Instead of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy a short time later, the Falcons were part of a meltdown for the ages as they allowed 31 unanswered points and lost 34-28 in overtime.
The pattern of bitter defeats is adding up but quarterback Matt Ryan continues to insist Quinn is the right man for the job.
“We’ve got his back,” Ryan said. “We’ve got to play better as players. That’s what you have to focus on. When things aren’t going well, it’s easy to look around and see what everybody else is doing or where everybody else is screwing up. The only way we’re going to improve as a unit is if we all kind of look in the mirror and find ways to improve individually.”
Ryan has passed for 961 yards and seven touchdowns to help the team average 30 points per game. But the defense isn’t holding up its bargain as it ranks last in the NFL in scoring defense (36.0) and 31st in total defense (463.3).
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the Packers are likely salivating over seeing the Falcons on the slate. Green Bay leads the league in scoring (40.7) and ranks second in total offense (459.7).
Rodgers has been superb with 887 yards and nine touchdowns and also hasn’t thrown an interception. And he has torched the Atlanta defense numerous times in his career as he has passed for 2,165 yards, 17 touchdowns and just two interceptions in seven regular-season meetings.
Rodgers’ relationship with coach Matt LaFleur has improved. It was clear last season that the partnership was bumpy but it has been smooth sailing so far this season.
“I think Matt has really settled into the rhythm of the play-calling,” said Rodgers, “and it’s made my job a lot easier.”
The Green Bay defense hasn’t always been so stout and is allowing 28.3 points per game. The Packers allowed 30 or more points in two of their wins.
LaFleur feels it is basic issues that is plaguing the unit as he said he counted 13 missed tackles in last week’s 37-30 win over the New Orleans Saints.
“There were a couple others where they don’t get credited for missed tackles but we had some guys that took some bad angles that weren’t in position to make a tackle,” LaFleur said. “So there were definitely some concerns there, no doubt about it.”
Green Bay will be without linebacker Christian Kirksey (groin) on Monday. Allen Lazard (team-best 254 receiving yards) sat out Thursday’s practice with a core-muscle injury while fellow wideout Davante Adams (hamstring) was a limited practice participant and is hopeful of returning after a one-game absence.
The Falcons placed cornerback Darqueze Dennard (hamstring) on injured reserve. The status of defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (hip) is of major concern, while safety Keanu Neal (hamstring) and receiver Calvin Ridley (ankle) were among the others who missed practice.
–Field Level Media