The big debate going on amid the Falcons’ collapse is whose fault is it: Matt Ryan’s or Kyle Shanahan’s? I’ll address that (again) in a column later in the week. But there’s something actually more important going on and it was brought home in Sunday’s loss at Tampa Bay.
The Falcons aren’t “finishing.” They’re not finishing plays or quarters or games. That’s not on Ryan or Shanahan as much as it’s on coach Dan Quinn because “finishing” has been his mantra since he arrived. The defense missed an abysmal number of tackles in Sunday’s 23-19 loss to the Buccaneers and looked comatose during Jameis Winston’s 20-yard run on third-and-19, which set up the deciding touchdown.
I referenced the play here in the game column, linked here. Michael Cunningham wrote about it in his breakdown of the play, linked here. Quinn has admonished players for it and some players have acknowledged their mistakes. But now the team has been called out by Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.
First, here’s the play again:
McCoy told the Buccaneers’ radio network (via JoeBucsFan.com): “Go back and look at the play and look at Jameis’ speed, and how he was playing, as opposed to look at the Atlanta Falcons and the speed they were playing at. They had thought he was down, guys walking around, jogging to him. Even when he started running again, guys were just jogging, ‘Oh, we’ll get him down.’ And Jameis was running for his life. You could just see the difference in how he was playing opposed to how the other team was playing. I mean, you just, we want it, man.”
Players don’t like being called out by opponents. But in this case, the Falcons can’t say a word because McCoy speaks the truth. They know it. Quinn knows it. And I can reaffirm what you probably already know: Quinn was still livid about the play on Wednesday when I spoke to him. The sluggish play didn’t just lose the game, it’s a reflection on him and on the attitude of the way his team plays. It would be a reflection on any coach, let alone one who spent his career preaching aggressiveness on the defensive side of the ball, which showed when he was the defensive coordinator in Seattle.
Yes, Ryan and Shanahan deserve to absorb some hits for what is going on with the offense. But until those problems get worked out, the Falcons had better control what they can — and that’s not taking mid-game naps.
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