Short takes: This Falcons’ loss is on Dan Quinn

San Francisco tight end Garrett Celek and quarterback Blaine Gabbert celebrate after Celek caught his second touchdown pass against the Falcons in the second quarter Sunday at Levi’s Stadium. (Getty Images)

The Falcons lost to San Francisco 17-16, their third defeat in the last four games. You can read my full game column by clicking here.

Below are my three “short takes” on the game.

1. THIS ONE IS ON DAN QUINN: A lot of praise was heaped on the Falcons’ new head coach early, and justifiably so. But since a 5-0 start, the Falcons have  lost to three bad teams — New Orleans (1-4 at the time of their game), Tampa Bay (2-4 at the time of their game) and San Francisco (2-6 before Sunday). Quinn failed to adequately prepare his team after last week’s dreadful loss to Tampa Bay. He and the coaching staff failed to fix the problems on either side of the ball or find a way to defeat a 49ers team that had been reeling. Late in the game, on fourth down from the 49ers’ 1-yard line, Quinn opted to go for a chip-shot field goal to narrow the 49ers’ lead to 17-16 rather than have his team attempt to score a go-ahead touchdown. That regrettable decision backfired as the Niners, starting the relatively inept Blaine Gabbert at quarterback, ran out the clock.

2. EARTH TO SHANAHAN: FREE RODDY!  Sorry but I’m just not getting this ignore-Roddy-White philosophy of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. White seldom, if ever, is a primary receiver on the play call and if he’s even a secondary or third option Ryan rarely looks in his direction. I understand White is 34 years old and has lost a lot of speed but to reduce his status to that of a ghost in the offense is nonsensical. My sentiment has nothing to do with White’s legendary status in the organization. It simply comes from the standpoint that he can still play and can make key catches for an offense that clearly is struggling. White wasn’t targeted for a pass until six seconds remained in the third quarter (it was broken up by a defender). He caught a 20-yarder in the fourth quarter the second time he was targeted.

3. OFF THE BANDWAGON: When I lived in San Francisco, the 49ers dominated the local sports landscape, which was to be expected for a perennial Super Bowl contender. But the extent to which the current team has turned off the fans was in evidence. Levi’s Stadium, which opened only last season, was at least one-third empty (capacity is 68,500). Fans don’t like the location of the stadium (wedged into a small footprint between an amusement park and office complexes in Santa Clara, where there’s little room to park and no tailgating space). But they’re mostly turned off by the unraveling of the organization, from CEO Jed York on down. Those who paid $2,000 to $80,000 for personal seat licenses (PSLs) are furious. We seldom witness seen such an angry fan base for a team that only three years ago was in the Super Bowl. So let this be a lesson for any sports owner who believe a new stadium will solve all of their problems — even if the short-term financial gain from PSLs fattens their checkbook.

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Reader Comments 0

50 comments
Kenny Powers
Kenny Powers

Yea you and Bradley can call out Dan Quinn, which he deserves but you both just sit by and let Fredi Gonzalez have a continuous pass year in and year out.

Mutley
Mutley

Oh Oh, Quinn is coming down with a bad case of Richtitis from which there is no known cure other than termination

NajehDavenpoop
NajehDavenpoop

Yes, it was a major coaching mistake by Quinn. Doesn't excuse the offense failing to score 20 points against a defense that had given up at least 20 points in every game since Week 1. Shouldn't have ever gotten to that point. 

wizatlanta
wizatlanta

Nowhere do I read anything about the deficiencies in Matt Ryan.  Matt seems content to look for the 3 yard throw even with plenty of time in the pocket.  Two completions over 20 yards and one was virtually a hail Mary at the end of the first half. I do agree with the Roddy White comment.  Ryan would rather try to fit a pass into triple coverage for Jones instead of looking for a wide open White.


Not fun watching two Georgia Bulldog games in the same weekend...

pride
pride

Falcons coach Dan Quinn's decision to kick a FG was so dumb, making it hurt their win probability

By Rodger Sherman

@rodger_sherman on Nov 8, 2015, 9:33p 23

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

This is one of the worst decisions an NFL coach could possibly make.

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The Atlanta Falcons should've beaten the San Francisco 49ers. I'm not just saying this because the San Francisco 49ers were starting Blaine Gabbert and were without Reggie Bush, Carlos Hyde, Anquan Boldin, and their top three cornerbacks, although, well, to be honest, that's also a pretty good reason.

I'm saying this because the Falcons had the ball on the 2-yard-line down four points with under three minutes to go. And head coach Dan Quinn made one of the worst decisions a head coach can make: He opted to kick the 19-yard field goal rather than attempt to score a touchdown. He opted to attempt a field goal that didn't even tie the game while ceding possession to the opponent.

Sure, the Falcons hit the field goal to cut the lead to one point, meaning if they'd gotten a stop, they could've gotten the ball back and kicked another field goal. But they never got the ball back: San Francisco got two first downs and ran the game out.

How bad of a decision was this? Let's take a peek at the 4th Down Calculator, via Advanced Football Analytics:

If you don't know how to read that: Going for it gave the Falcons a 53 percent chance at winning. They had a 42 percent chance at making it, which would've resulted in a 78 percent chance at a win, and a 58 percent chance at missing.

But even if they missed, they would've given the 49ers the ball pinned on their own 2-yard-line, potentially leading to a safety and the ball back, a defensive touchdown, or a blocked punt for a safety or a touchdown. And even if none of those happened, the Falcons still could've gotten the ball back in good field position after a punt from the two. In the likelihood that they didn't get the TD, they still would've had a 35 percent chance at winning.

Actually making the field goal meant the 49ers were getting the ball back in much better field position, still with a lead. Making the field goal gave the Falcons just a 17 percent chance at winning. Simply attempting this field goal hurt the Falcons' chance at winning by 36 percent. They would've been better off getting zero points and keeping the field position.

If you think it's foolish to just run off what one set of numbers says, most win probability formulas would agree. Numberfire says the made FG dinged Atlanta's win probability by over 40 percent: They had a 50.48 chance of winning beforehand, and a 9.14 percent chance afterwards.

It's always easy to criticize coaches in hindsight: If the Falcons get the ball back and win, Quinn seems smart.

But if the Falcons had gone for it and missed, few would criticize Quinn. It would've showed he had confidence in his offense, and something possibly resembling guts. And according to the numbers, it would've given Atlanta a better chance at winning than if they made the stupid field goal he asked for.

Eric_C
Eric_C

Oh, and totally agree about Roddy...that situation is getting old.

Eric_C
Eric_C

According to SB Nation...the Falcons had better odds of winning the game if they had "missed" the FG - that is how bad of a call it was

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Your "relatively inept" QB was better than Mr. Fourth Quarter, Matty Deiced yesterday.  I thought Gabbert played a good game and am interested to see if his lack of production in Jacksonville may have been due to inexperience and a horrible team around him. 

saviorfaire
saviorfaire

Nah, it's just how bad the Falcons are.

Zapp
Zapp

I normally don't hit two columns on the same day, but yours is touching on the real problems.  The head coach has not taken control of this team during bad times.  He allows Shanahan to continue to have no rhythm to his play calling.  The man doesn't know how to be an offensive coordinator, but there is a very good one on the market now.  He understands how to call plays for superbowl teams, having been offensive coordinator for Pittsburgh, and they haven't won one since.  Get rid of baby Shanahan and hire someone who knows how to set up an offense.

We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again
We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again

No other way to put it: the Falcons are a bad football team right now. A 6-3 record feels very hollow when only one of the wins was against a team with a winning record and all of the losses were to below-average teams. 


Shanahan seems completely averse to throwing downfield. We hit Julio on a long bomb right before the half and never even made an effort to stretch the field after that. Ryan looks lost in this offense.


Quinn's preparation this week was poor, but his in-game coaching was even worse. That was a ridiculous use of a challenge with 8 minutes left in the game -- ball spots almost never get overturned -- and his decision to kick a field goal with less than 3 minutes remaining at the 2-yard line defies comprehension. I'm still a Quinn supporter, but two straight abysmal losses have diminished my confidence. His game management yesterday was Mike Smith-level bad.

saviorfaire
saviorfaire

You are correct on all points. This is one of the worst teams in the league and all the other teams know that. Matt Ryan throws 3 yard passes to receivers that are uncovered due to defensive backs giving a 5 yard cushion. His stats look good because those passes are always open. The Falcons can't put the ball in the end zone. Look at the skill position players on offense and tell me why the team can't score touchdowns? It's because of a weak QB that can't move, run, throw down field or target the end zone.

Peachs
Peachs

Do not understand the RW thing, why play with 10 players?  

OH:IO
OH:IO

Free Roddy?


FREE LILLY

Hairy Dawg
Hairy Dawg

Specially on the road you go for it at goal line. Elses you got to get D stop and then march down field with crowd yelling againts you before making kick.

ZAZ
ZAZ

Falcon's are a mediocre team and are playing like it. Why the surprise here? The season, so far, has involved sub-.500 teams and 3 losses against those. The mistake was for some to over-estimate the ability of this team based on record. Heck, even the radio experts have ignored reality and simply trumpeted the Ws as some kind of real indicator for this season. Drill down guys and it's easy to see that we still have a mess here.

Centrist
Centrist

Damn, just what is it with this team with field goals anyway?  Not just this year either because this goes way back.  Drive down the damn field and kick a field goal.  This is Falcons style football and once again cost them the game.  I'll bet 95% of Falcons fans were screaming at the tv for the Falcons to go for the touchdown from the one yard line but oh hell no it's field goal time again.  Amazing, just amazing.

candlin14
candlin14

If Quinn is a real coach he would sit down with Ryan and Shannahan and ask what the problem is. This QB does not look comfortable. Shannahan has turned this guy into a one read or check it down QB. We have no creativity on offense. We have a smart IQ QB who has proven to run no huddle and we don't use it. There is a problem between Ryan and Shannahan and it is obvious now. 


GET IT FIXED QUINN AND WHILE YOU ARE DOING THAT FIND YOUR BALLZZZ... ANY COACH WOULD HAVE GONE FOR THE WIN TODAY, YOU MY FRIEND WERE BALLZLESS AND DESERVED TO LOSE WITH THAT COACHING DECISION...

UGA76
UGA76

It's easy to say that the Falcons should have gone for it.  My question is what play do they run?  Our OL is still woefully weak.  I can't see running the ball. We don't have a TE that we can trust in that situation.  They leaves Julio and Roddy.  Maybe SF is crazy but surely they would double team  both.  

I prefer to look at the long term.  Fantasy Football Dimitroff was so inept that Atlanta had the 31st rated talent going into last years draft.   Atlanta is at least one more great draft from being serious playoff contenders.  I think a 8-8 and drafting at about 15 would benefit the team much more in the long term than losing in the first round of the playoffs and drafting at 27.  

      

DamonH
DamonH

Looking more and more like last year's roddy extension was retirement money. You dont give a guy an extension one year and write him out of your offense the very next

cloudodust
cloudodust

Rebuilding teams need not read the accolades from an enduring base of love festive hopefuls. The daggers have been put back in their sheaths and the talons have been removed. Okay Dr Quinn, Medicine Man, WTH are you gonna do to right this ship..? Go ahead and tell us to, Just wait 'til next year..? If so, fine. I'll watch something else.

ejmcga
ejmcga

I think the Falcons should change their name to "The Cure"/  Now we have taken 3 terminally ill opponents off of their deathbeds and breathed new life into their programs.

Eric_C
Eric_C

The bad decision to kick the FG is exactly the kind of thing that got Mike Smith fired.  Imagine they go for 4th down and don't get it...SF gets the ball inside the 3 with limited play-calling and likely punts from the end zone. Best case, you score a TD and likely win. I just don't get that decision at all.  We can scream about all the other issues, but this sort of decision is what makes the difference between winning and losing in the NFL.

TideDawg
TideDawg



@Eric_C  I have to agree with Eric. That call by Quinn did didn't make sense. Quinn is new to the HC position. I think he got too caught up in the game and forgot who has to make the decisions. He's learning.


Happy_Smith
Happy_Smith

...  and Beasley is also UNDERSIZED and a Bust...  We drafted this guy to RUSH the MF QB!!! Fact is.. hea ain't BIG enough... Swich Beasly to LB next year and get us a NFL Size D Lineman!!  Hey Ra'Sheed Hageman... Unless you want to join Littleman Freeman on the BFI Trash Truck... Earn yer flirping paycheck... Will Ya!


Phillip Wheeler gets the Game Ball... The Hit was legal and exemplary for some of you other over-priced Gold Brickers.

If ya don't wanna play, there are other smelly apes on the Trash Truck that will!!!!


TheMatr1x
TheMatr1x

@Hairy Dawg Nah Freeman is playing well, don't need Gurley. They should've traded down into the middle of the first round and got an extra late 2nd or 3rd round pick. Then select Bud Dupree late in the first and then Randy Gregory. That would've gave you nice two young defensive ends and some extra picks to play with for a CB instead of Jalen Collins.

Hairy Dawg
Hairy Dawg

I told you they should a drafted a real player from Dawgs like Gurley instead a some Clemson ACC chump. Gurley keep scoring TDs and running ball like a man while Beasley done disappeared.

chasjons
chasjons

                         Kicking FG                                           Go for TD


Success %            95%                                                     65%
Points                       3                                                           6
Expected Value  2.85                                                    3.65
Chance of Win        40%                                                  80%


This is why you have to go for it.  It is the same formula poker players use to make decisions.   The numbers are made up, but if you assume there is a 95% chance of a successful field goal from 4th and goal and a 65% chance of scoring a touchdown then your expected value is higher going for the TD.  That doesn't even factor in the extra point which would give going for the TD and even higher expected value.



These numbers alone would dictate that a coach should go for the touchdown, but if you factor in the game situation then the decision should be a no brainer.   If you kick the FG (which we did) then maybe you only have a 40% chance of winning the game after that.  But if you make the TD then maybe your odds of winning the game go to 80%.   I made up all of these percentages but my guess is that they are fairly accurate. 

I am no mathematician, but I think you could sum it up and say that you don't kick a field goal there because the incremental chance of winning the game is only slightly increased (relative to not getting any points on 4th).  On the contrary if you get a TD your incremental chance of winning is large.  The odds of making a FG are high, but it really doesn't have a high return.







Happy_Smith
Happy_Smith

EARTH TO QUINN & SHANAHAN II:


Devonta is UNDERSIZED in the RedZone.  PLAY COLEMAN!!  Coleman is not the huge back we still need (TJ Duckett), but he presents as the best run option in the Redzone!!!  Are you kidding me with retarded passes from the 5 yard line.  RUN THE GD BALL!!!  


and OMG...  If I am the opposition, I am going to triple team Julio all day too, because Ryan is apparently under orders NOT to throw to Roddy.  We would rather look to Nick Williams vs Roddy.  Come on Kyle... Are you on Drugs!!!    Flirpity Flirp Man!!!!  Looking Roddy's way is only going to help Julio and the Falcons.  If I know the ball is ALWAYS going to #11, I like my odds of stopping the "best WR in the NFL"


Coleman & Roddy are ready for their numbers to be called!! Wake Up Will ya!!!

TideDawg
TideDawg

@Lassy39  Roddy wants to protect Roddy. This is probably his last season and he wants to go in one piece.

mar1049
mar1049

And they are getting a new stadium for this type of play.

TOJacket
TOJacket

I can't believe they didn't go for the win?......damn

etherdome
etherdome

Do you think they are playing a lot of music at practice lately.  


I'd like to hear more about football discipline than the Head Coach's playlist.  

chasjons
chasjons


Smitty is back secretly making lame play calls from his cell phone!  You have to go for it on 4th and goal there at the end of the game. That is not open for debate.   If you don't get it on 4th you still have them pinned at the goal line and still can win it if you get the ball back.   

The real problems are with the O an D lines as we know, but this game could have been won.  We really don't have any creativity with our offense right now and are too predictable.  When was the last time the Falcons tried a QB bootleg?  Maybe back in the Dan Reeves era? Ryan is not the problem, but he does need to look for other receivers that aren't JJ.   

Hell Horsey
Hell Horsey

Glad to see some frank criticism of the delusional PSL program, which is a betrayal of all the hard-working, long-suffering fans of this sorry Falcons franchise. Blank will be lucky to fill 2/3 of his overpriced cathedral to show off his Superbowl-winless team to his caviar crowd pals.

RangeRover
RangeRover

Jeff,


I hope you have the will and the courage to challenge this buffoon of a coach who lacks any courage at all!

donnieboy
donnieboy

Screens, draw plays, misdirection plays, shovel passes, reverses,shots down fields, bootlegs. Do something creative!! Looks like defenses have us on our heels instead of the other way around.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@donnieboy  Jeff is only interested in placing the blame. He doesn't deal in solutions to problems.

Gman84
Gman84

Thanks for pointing out the foolishness of extorting tens of thousands from your fan base for the "right" to buy seats to see a crappy product. Blank's greed will cost him dearly. 


This awful franchise has only had a handful of decent seasons. Apparently he thinks this is Green Bay, Pittsburgh or some place where the team has actually been a source of pride vs the constant embarrassment that is the Falcons. 

Hell Horsey
Hell Horsey

Uh-oh, where is chopp to spin YET ANOTHER Falcons loss? Is the Falcons ticket office on RED ALERT again in the lunchroom, just like last time they lost to a sorry team? Get in here and sell those PSLs, pork chopp, or Artie Blank will never promote you out of the broom closet!

TGT88
TGT88

Also, where's the fire?! Where's the passion?!! Where's the sense of "WE WON"T LOSE THESE GAMES?!!!" Anyone have any idea who the fiery leader is on this team?

JeanLE
JeanLE

I didn't pick us to win in my pool and unfortunately, I was right. This team is completely inept on offense and I agree, I do NOT understand why Roddy is not any part of this offense. Why???? The o-line did a poor job with no holes for Devonta and yet another bowling ball snap by Person at center. Don't even get me started on my anger at letting Joe Hawley go (glad he found a job with Tampa). The defense can't get a stop at the end when it counts, and the team looked completely unprepared. We make every horrible QB look like Joe Montana. This is a bad team and for this result, we could've just kept Mike Smith. Matt Ryan is a shell of his former self. Shanahan is just as much of a mistaken hire as Shottenheimer is for Georgia. All this and I have no confidence anything will be changed or fixed during out bye week. This season is over folks.

Eric_C
Eric_C

@JeanLE  I'm as frustrated as you, but to say the season is over with a 6-3 record is foolish

GASports
GASports

Matty Melt is NOT going to take the franchise to a championship. He's looking for Julio EVERY freaking play.

NO PASS RUSH

NO BLOCKING

TERRIBLE COACHING

TGT88
TGT88

This is going to be a LONG plane ride and a long two weeks. What a PITIFUL display the last four/five weeks!!! LOTS to answer for with this team.

Falcons just lost to one of the worst QB's in NFL history: http://www.bigcatcountry.com/2014/4/17/5624884/blaine-gabbert-bust-worst-qb-jaguars-dvoa

Needed OT to beat one bad QB. Barely beat another replacement QB scoring only one TD. Lost to a rookie at home last week. If Ryan is a real winner, there's NO WAY he allows his team to lose these games!!!

Maybe one of those games, but NO WAY 3 of them!!!

Also, SF came into this game ranked 27th in rush defense (http://espn.go.com/nfl/statistics/team/_/stat/rushing/position/defense). They've given up about 124 yds./game, yet we never could get anything going?!!! As I said last week, given that we played ANOTHER team who's "pride is on the line" (i.e. another bad team), what will be the excuses this week?

Also, there's virtually NO creativity on offense. With our offensive weapons, how can we be that inept?! Arguably the best receiver and the best running back in the league and we can't get in the endzone?!!