Failure To Fly
By: JJ Lanier
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
Making it to the proverbial mountain top is the goal of almost any athlete and coach.
The only problem with getting to the top is things can only go down from there. The Falcons may not have technically made it to the top of the mountain, but they, and Dan Quinn in particular, are finding out how quickly that fall can come.
So, here’s the good- Quinn ended an 18 draught for Falcons when he led them to the Super Bowl a few years ago.
He also guided them back to the playoffs the following year, something most teams that lost in the previous years’ championship game had struggled to repeat, so I give him credit for that. Plus, the Falcons have had some injuries, particularly on defense, which should be taken into account.
Now for the bad news- in today’s NFL none of what I mentioned above really matters, especially when you didn’t actually win the Super Bowl.
Since their Super Bowl appearance three years ago, Atlanta’s win total for each season has been 10-7-and “on pace for fewer than 7 wins this year”.
I realize after you win 14 games you’re going to step back, and 10 wins certainly isn’t anything to shrug, but it’s still a continual decline.
Defensively, the Falcons have had difficulty stopping the run and forcing turnovers; not a great combination, to say the least.
Fortunately, outside of the Houston game, where their defense had more leaks than the staff at the White House, they’ve been able to minimize the damage when it comes to points.
Surprisingly enough, the offensive side is really where they’ve been hurting. Matt Ryan is currently having a career worst TD/INT ratio and the running game is basically nonexistent.
Point being, you can deal with a few less wins each year as long as there isn’t a huge drop off in performance on the field, which isn’t the case.
Throw in the injuries to Drew Brees and Cam Newton, combined with Tampa’s inconsistency, and the season was opening up to be Atlanta’s for the taking.
The Falcons have yet to face either of those teams. All three are playing better than expected, so while their success isn’t a direct correlation to Atlanta’s struggles, it does make the season up to this point that much harder to handle.
You also can’t ignore Atlanta has some pretty high priced players that are right in the middle of their primes (Julio Jones) or close to nearing the end (Ryan), adding additional urgency to each season.
Personally, I don’t think Quinn should be in danger of losing his job, but the Falcons care about my opinion as much as McDonald’s does about my individual boycott of the McRib- seriously, that whole sandwich is just unnatural.
But, it’s all about what have you done for me lately, and if this current trajectory continues, Quinn answer will be very short.
I remember the simultaneous look of joy and exasperation on the face of my high school chemistry teacher when she found out we (her students) had the highest end of course test scores in the state; she was at the top of the mountain.
Unfortunately for Quinn he’s currently experiencing the exasperation and difficulty in Atlanta without having ever experienced the joy beforehand.
If things don’t change, he may not have to worry about it anymore, at least not in Atlanta.