Atlanta Falcons Blog

Atlanta Falcons blog by D. Orlando Ledbetter, the pro football and Atlanta Falcons reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Cover 9@9: Quinn faces first major hurdle in young head-coaching tenure

1. BIG COACHING CHALLENGE: Falcons coach Dan Quinn and his coaching staff face their first major challenge of the season on Sunday.

Quinn got the Falcons off to a 5-0 start, despite not playing particularly sound football.

Now, they’ve hit a rough patch of four games and have dropped three of them.

There’s been shaky play (turnovers), shaky play-calling (Where’s Roddy?) and a bad decision to kick a field goal, when they needed a touchdown to take the lead against San Francisco. Not trying to take the lead from the 1-plus yard line and throwing passes behind the sticks on third downs are cardinal sins in the Cover9@9 football book.

We’ll get to see if Quinn and his staff can rally the troops after their first back-to-back losses.

“I think it’s about getting better moving forward,” Quinn said. “But some of the things we did early on, that we were really successful at, let’s make sure we’re really true to those.

“That was the good part about the bye week. We have a big playbook offensively, defensively. Let’s make sure we are finding the things that we do really well and emphasize and stress those things as often as we can.”

2. RYAN ON THE NO-HUDDLE: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan believes the team can use the no-huddle more as a weapon to try to revive the offense, which has scored just 16.7 points over the past four games.

Ryan was asked by Brian Finneran on his weekly radio show on 680 The Fan on Tuesday if we should expect to see more no-huddle starting Sunday against Colts.

“Yeah, we’ll see,” Ryan said. “I think it’s one of the things that we have the ability to do and we work on it. Probably not as much as we did in the past because it was a bigger point of emphasis for us on offense.”

Ryan was taught the no-huddle as a rookie by former offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey and quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave. He’s used in deftly over his career and with offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.

“We have the ability to do it and it’s something that we’ve practice,” Ryan said. “I feel like if it comes up, it’s something that we’re going to be prepared for and we’re going to do really well.”

3. RYAN ON ADJUSTMENTS: Former Falcons linemen Mike Johnson asked Ryan if team’s have successfully adjusted to new offense.

“I think, not so much in the San Francisco game, I really think we did not play very well in that game,” Ryan said. “I think when you look at probably the last four weeks, we’ve been sloppier across the board. Not as detailed as we’ve needed to be.

“Whether if it’s protecting the football or turning it the football over. Whether if it’s procedural penalties that you mentioned, those things get you off schedule very quickly. I think that’s something that we haven’t done really well, probably over the past four or five weeks. Hopefully, that’s something we’ll do a lot better. Certainly, defenses will make adjustments and give us some different looks.

“I always like to look in the mirror. I think it’s on us and what we do.”

4. HANKERSON UPDATE: Falcons wide receiver Leonard Hankerson looked good running his routes on Monday.

“Hank had limited reps, but on the ones that he did, he had a couple of good catches on some deep balls and some comebacks,” Quinn said. “He’s an important guy for us.”

5. FALCONS’ PENALTY REPORT: The Falcons have committed 73 penalties through nine games, which is the 13th fewest in league.

The Falcons need to clean up their penalties issues, which include 22 holding penalties and 20 pre-snap penalties, because they need victories over two of the least penalized teams in the league in Carolina and Minnesota.

A total of 63 of the Falcons’ penalties have been accepted for 615 yards. Eight have been declined and two were offsetting.

The Falcons have had 32 penalties at home and 31 on the road.

Here’s a look at the Falcons’ penalty report:

Player, Penatly, Yards

Andy Levitre, 7 - 55

Ryan Schraeder, 5 - 35

Vic Beasley, 5 - 20

Robert Alford, 4 -97

Desmond Trufant, 4 -47

Levine Toilolo, 4-40

Roddy White, 4-35

Ricardo Allen, 3-30

Jake Matthews, 3-25

Phillip Adams, 3-21

Chris Chester, 2-20

Adrian Clayborn, 2-20

Ra’Shede Hageman, 2-17

Leonard Hankerson, 2-17

Kemal Ishmael, 2-10

Jacob Tamme, 2-10

O’Brien Schofield, 2-8

Nathan Stupar, 2-5

Kroy Biermann, 2-3

Devonta Freeman, 1-15

Philip Wheeler, 1-15

Paul Worrilow, 1-13

Charles Godfrey, 1-10

Josh Harris, 1-10

James Stone, 1-10

Julio Jones, 1-6

Matt Bosher, 1-5

Bryce Harris, 1-5

Paul Soliai, 1-5

William Moore, 1-1

Mike Person, 1-0

SOURCE: NFL Game Statistics Information System.

6. RED ZONE WOES: We were tipped about shortly after Kyle Shanahan was hired that his offenses had a tendency to stall in the redzone. But with an established quarterback like Matt Ryan things figured to be different in Atlanta.

While the overall redzone numbers are decent and in the top half of the league, there’s been a drastic dip.

The Falcons are 20 of 33 in the red zone (60.6 percentage, 10th in the league). The Falcons had 10 touchdowns in 13 red zone possessions (76.9 percent) in the first four games and were 16 for 22 (72.7 percent) in the first six games. But in the last three games — a 10-7 win over Tennessee and losses to Tampa Bay (23-20) and San Francisco (17-16) – the Falcons reached the end zone only four times in 11 possessions (36.4 percent).

The breakdown: four field goals, three turnovers and four touchdowns.

7. COLTS DEFENSE IS SOFT: The numbers suggest that the Colts’ defense is as soft as a marshmallow.

The Falcons’ offense should be able to get well against a Colts defense that is ranked in the lower half of the league in the four key categories – total yards (394.2 yards, 28th in the league), scoring defense (25.2 points, 22nd), passing yards (279.3, 28th) and rushing yards (114.9, 22nd).

The Colts are 30th in league with 13 sacks.

8. FALCONS' 32ND IN SACKS: The Giants recorded three sacks last week to move in front of the Falcons with 12 sacks. The Falcons dropped to last place (32nd) in the league with 10 sacks.

9. OFFICIAL DEPTH CHART: The team’s depth chart in the weekly release.


WR 11 Julio Jones, 85 Leonard Hankerson, 16 Justin Hardy

LT 70 Jake Matthews, 75 Jake Long

LG 67 Andy Levitre, 62 James Stone

C 68 Mike Person, 66 Gino Gradkowski

RG 65 Chris Chester, 62 James Stone

RT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 72 Bryce Harris

TE 83 Jacob Tamme, 80 Levine Toilolo, 81 Tony Moeaki

WR 84 Roddy White, 14 Eric Weems, 15 Nick Williams

QB 2 Matt Ryan, 12 Sean Renfree

RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 26 Tevin Coleman, 33 Terron Ward

FB 42 Patrick DiMarco


DE 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 99 Adrian Clayborn, 71 Kroy Biermann

DT 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 97 Grady Jarrett

NT 96 Paul Soliai, 95 Jonathan Babineaux

DE 94 Tyson Jackson, 93 Malliciah Goodman

LB 52 Justin Durant, 51 Philip Wheeler, 59 Joplo Bartu

LB 55 Paul Worrilow, 54 Nate Stupar

LB 50 O’Brien Schofield, 56 Brooks Reed

CB 23 Robert Alford, 32 Jalen Collins

CB 21 Desmond Trufant, 20 Phillip Adams, 28 Akeem King

S 37 Ricardo Allen, 27 Robenson Therezie

S 25 Wiliam Moore, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 30 Charles Godfrey


K 3 Matt Bryant

KO 5 Matt Bosher

P 5 Matt Bosher

KR 14 Eric Weems, 15 Nick Williams

PR 14 Eric Weems, 15 Nick Williams

LS 47 Josh Harris

H 5 Matt Bosher

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter and CineSport’s Noah Coslov talk about the challenges the Colts (4-5) will present this week against the Falcons (6-3) and the team’s offensive game plan on Sunday.

Here's how the Falcons achieved their 6-3 start

Here's a look back at the game stories, news and notes from the Falcons'17-16 loss to San Francisco, the 23-20 overtime loss to Tampa Bay,  win over the Titans (10-7), loss to the Saints (31-21) and their victories over the Redskins (25-19 in OT), Texans (48-21), Cowboys (39-28), Giants (24-20) and Eagles (26-24).


5 things we learned from the Falcons' 17-16 loss to the 49ers

How the 49ers beat the Falcons, 17-16

JEFF SCHULTZ: Latest Falcons' embarrassment is on Dan Quinn

Gabbert, 49ers make Falcons defense look weak

Weems provides brief spark with big returns

PHOTOS -- Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers

TAMPA BAY GAME COVERAGE -- Bucs 23, Falcons 20 in OT

5 things we learned in the Falcons' 23-20 loss to the Bucs

How the Falcons lost to the Bucs in OT

10 comments from Dan Quinn after the loss to the Bucs

Adams disagreed with overtime pass interference call

Matt Ryan's miscues help to gift the Bucs' 20 points

QUOTEBOARD: What the Falcons were saying after the 23-20 loss to the Bucs

Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston bests his role model: 'Mr. Ryan'

Falcons defense holds up, but forces no turnovers

Falcons rallied behind wide receiver Julio Jones

Bucs rookie linebacker Alexander dedicates win to deceased brother

TENNESSEE GAME COVERAGE -- Falcons 10, Titans 7

5 things we learned from the Falcons' 10-7 victory over the Titans

BRADLEY: Falcons do enough to survive

10 comments from Dan Quinn after the Falcons' 10-7 victory over the Titans

NEW ORLEANS GAME COVERAGE -- Saints 31, Falcons 21

5 things we learned in the Falcons' 31-21 loss to the Saints

Saints hand Falcons their first loss -- Quarter by Quarter

Matt Ryan: 'It was a tough night'

5 comments from Dan Quinn on the Falcons' loss

What the Falcons had to say after their 31-21 loss to the Saints

Why didn't the Falcons feed Freeman? -- Mike Check

Falcons flash some of their ugly past -- Jeff Schultz column

Falcons-Saints by the numbers

Tweetcap: Falcons flop in New Orleans

WASHINGTON GAME COVERAGE -- Falcons 25, Redskins 19 in OT

Falcons pull out 25-19 victory over Redskins in OT -- Quarter by Quarter

5 things we learned in the Falcons' 25-19 win over the Redskins

Alford's 59-yard interception return saves the day

What the Falcons had to say after the 25-19 win

Ryan, offense struggle with turnovers

Mark Bradley column: The Frenetic Falcons: Five-and-oh-my!

Roddy White hears support from the crowd

15 comments from Dan Quinn on the Falcons' victory

Roddy White: 'I'll be a Falcons for life'

Tweetcap: Falcons beat Redskins in OT

TEXANS GAME COVERAGE -- Falcons 48, Texans 21

How the Falcons hammered the Texans -- Quarter by Quarter

5 things we learned from the Falcons' 48-21 win over the Texans

Devonta Freeman stars again for the Falcons

What the Falcons had to say after pummeling the Texans

9 comments from Dan Quinn on the Falcons' victory

Jeff Schult'z column: Devonta Freeman, 7 TDs -- who didn't see that coming

Schraeder, Matthews keep Watt in check

Hankerson turns in a 100-yard receiving day (second of his career)

Houston's J.J. Watt tips hat to the Falcons

Former Falcons great Jessie Tuggle honored during Texans game

COWBOYS GAME COVERAGE -- Falcons 39, Cowboys 28

Falcons 39, Cowboys 28 -- Quarter by Quarter

5 things we learned from the Falcons' 39-28 win over the Cowboys

Mark Bradley's short takes: Julio, Freeman and the defense

Devonta Freeman is catalyst for Falcons run game

QUOTEBOARD: What the Falcons had to say after beating Dallas

Julio Jones does it again: 12 catches, 164 yards and two touchdowns

Mark Bradley column: A dominant half shows what he Falcons could be

Offensive line cracked the run-game code

Ryan directed second-half fireworks show

Beasley help lead resurgence on defense

Where's Falcons wide receiver Roddy White?

GIANTS GAME COVERAGE -- Falcons 24, Giants 20

Falcons 24, Giants 20 -- Quarter by Quarter

5 things we learned from Falcons' 24-20 win over the Giants

Mark Bradley column -- Don't stop believin': Dan Quinn's men are 2-0

A record day for Julio Jones: 13 receptions

Kroy Biermann: 'We're a ball-attacking team'


5 things we learned from Falcons' upset win over Eagles

Matt Ryan leads Falcons to 26-24 win over the Eagles

Jeff Schultz column: An impressive debut by Quinn's new Falcons

Mark Bradley column: A new year: The Falcons dig deep and hang on

Julio Jones moves into fifth on Falcons' all-time receiving list

Tevin Coleman powers new rushing attack

Ricardo Allen seals victory in first start at free safety

4 questions with Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones after the game

Falcons rookies Beasley, Jarrett make impact

Falcons' revamped offensive line shows positive signs

Falcons quotes after their victory over the Eagles

Falcons-Eagles: By The Numbers


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About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.