Welcome back to Overreaction Monday, where a 5-0 record is fools gold.
Skinny: 6-7 with a six-game losing streak. Last game: Lost at Carolina 38-0. Next game: Sunday at Jacksonville.
Overreaction narrative: “Fire Dan Quinn! Fire Thomas Dimitroff! Fire Kyle Shanahan! Fire the guy who changes the heat bulbs at the concession stands that keep the bad hot dogs because I don’t like him, either. Fire! Fire! Fire!”
Reality check: Owner Arthur Blank says he has confidence in Quinn. I’m not really sure what that means but I’m 99.99 percent certain the head coach isn’t getting fired. Last week I asked Quinn if he could guarantee that both quarterback Matt Ryan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan would be back next season and he said yes. Dimitroff is in a bit of a different category because the Falcons have some obvious personnel issues, he shares blame for that — no, not all the blame but some of it — and it’s conceivable Blank will feel the need after this season’s collapse to fire somebody for public appearances. The status of other assistant coaches are uncertain. Quinn likely is evaluating his staff.
But let’s address the more immediate problems. The Falcons are devoid of any confidence right now. They came out Sunday at Carolina looking like they wanted to rip somebody’s head off but they lost their composure, played with no discipline and, after falling behind 21-0, checked out. Yes, they quit. Now, you’re not going to find anybody in the locker room or on the coaching staff who will admit players quit. But a team doesn’t lose 38-0 when players are going all out. This is what happened periodically over the last two years of the Mike Smith regime. Players stopped listening and, to some degree, stopped caring. Throw in incidents like Ra’Shede Hageman having a meltdown — requiring assistant Bryan Cox to pull him off the field — and cornerback Robert Alford whining to an official that Carolina receiver Ted Ginn Jr. pushed off on — instead of, you know, focus on making the tackle and then complaining — and that’s how you get 38-0.
Who’s responsibility is this? Ultimately, Quinn’s, because he’s pretty much the most important person in the organization after Blank. Any thoughts of pulling the plug on him are silly. But whatever he is doing to get his players’ attention isn’t working, because when players quit or play soft, that’s a reflection on their head coach. Does he need to bench a guy or two? Cut somebody? I don’t know. The NFL is a different animal. Teams don’t make mid-season trades and rarely flat-out release starters. Since the rest of the season is about player analysis, Quinn and his staff could start looking at backups and practice squad players. But the biggest issue right now is the Falcons are playing like the worst team in the NFL, and they’re not the worst team in the NFL. The problem is between the ears.
Last week: Hired offensive coordinator Jim Chaney from Pitt and offensive line coach Sam Pittman of Arkansas.
Overreaction narrative: “I don’t care! What about Jacob Eason?!”
Reality check: This is me on my front lawn, yelling to punk cyberspace: Shut up about Jacob Eason already. Whether the touted quarterback recruit comes to Georgia or not, everything new coach Kirby Smart is doing right now is not about one player or one season. Would Eason help next season? Of course. But it’s ridiculous that expectations would be so high for a true freshman quarterback and ultimately the program’s success next year and beyond are going to be defined by big picture decisions, identity and coaching.
As for Chaney and Pittman, I like the hires. Georgia’s offensive line never seems to be as good as it’s supposed to be and Pittman should help in that area. He is a bit of a coach on wheels — this is his seventh stop since 2000, 11th since 1995 — but he has become known as one of the nation’s best O-line coaches. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema and players tried to talk Pittman into staying. Bielema also appeared upset about Pittman’s decision and regretted not putting a no-compete clause in his contract.
“Probably the only mistake I made in retrospect was as I didn’t put it in there,” Bielema said. “He kind of always made the comment that, ‘You don’t have to worry about me going.’
Chaney has a reputation as a strong quarterbacks coach and coached the spread offense with Drew Brees at Purdue and pro style offenses elsewhere, including Tennessee and Pitt.
Smart’s decision to not retain defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt (who has returned to Alabama) is debatable. But if there was significant concern over whether Pruitt would be a disruptive influence on a new staff it’s also understandable. It would be a greater concern if Smart wasn’t a defensive coordinator himself. He should be able to hire a strong staff on that side of the ball.
- Matt Ryan and Kyle Shanahan need to figure out their problems
- Contenders valued Heyward far more than Braves
- Bethancourt, a cautionary tale about prospects, dealt to Padres
- McCoy calls out Falcons’ defense for ‘jogging’ — and he’s right
- John Coppolella begins to make amends with Miller trade
- Kirby Smart’s big task is making Georgia believe it can be great
- Falcons season goes from fantasy to nightmare
- Short takes: Playoffs?!? Falcons look dead in that department
- Georgia’s hiring of Kirby Smart looks good by comparison
- If Alabama’s defense is a sign, Kirby Smart looks ready to be a head coach
- Short takes: defense, running game could carry Alabama to national title
- Here’s hoping Mark Richt is doing this for right reasons
- Weekend Predictions: Alabama restores order after a wacky week
- Blog: Miami makes a great hire; did Richt make a great decision?
- On Kirby Smart, coordinators, loud but effective strength coach (video)
- Kirby Smart hire makes sense for Georgia, even if wow factor lacking
- Richt will enjoy quiet for first time, may be done coaching
- Greg McGarity’s career will be defined by first major hire
- Falcons have a problem, and surprisingly it’s their quarterback
- Richt’s firing confirms what many believed: It was time for a change
- McGarity mum on Richt, and Georgia’s win doesn’t feel like a celebration
- Short takes on Georgia’s win
- Johnson, Bobinski confident about Tech’s future
- Weekend Predictions: Dogs over Jackets in Bad Aura Bowl
- A new tradition, in the spirit of Furman Bisher: Giving thanks (to those who deserve it)
- Overreaction Monday: Richt’s status, Ryan’s fall, and does Tech have a chance?
- Georgia Tech loses Justin Thomas, ball and all hope
- Short takes: Jackets lose Thomas, fumble nine times (yes, nine)
- Weekend Predictions: It’s marshmallow opponent week
- Coppolella tired of being roasted, says, ‘We are not tanking’
- Roddy White has survived far worse things than reduced role in offense: tragedy
- Why are those Freeman T-shirts included in Braves’ clearance sale?
- Overreaction Monday: Richt’s ploy, Falcons’ bye, Braves’ salary dump
- Jeremy Pruitt’s defense is salvaging Georgia’s season
- Short takes on Georgia’s win over Auburn
- Simmons gone, and Braves’ offseason already looking like last one
- Weekend Predictions: It’s not a good time to invest in Georgia
- Former Georgia player Faloughi at center of Missouri protests