The Falcons (3-4) have a bye this week.
Here are four things that went wrong for the Falcons over the first seven games:
1. Refurbished weight room to blame for injuries? The Falcons have six starters on injured reserve in left guard Andy Levitre (arm), right guard Brandon Fusco (broken ankle), running back Devonta Freeman (groin/sports hernia), middle linebacker Deion Jones (broken foot), strong safety Keanu Neal (knee) and free safety Ricardo Allen (Achilles).
Jones and Freeman could return this season, but the rest of the players are out for the season.
Over the offseason, the Falcons showed off their new refurbished weight room. There is no direct link to the training or the weight room, but it is a coincidence that they’ve had a rash of injuries this season.
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“A lot of times, it’s bad luck,” said Dr. Ken Jung, a foot and ankle surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles. “The luck of the draw.”
Football is an inherently dangerous sport, which leads to injuries. Some contend that soft tissue injuries, like Allen’s Achilles, happen because teams don’t practice as hard anymore.
“The size of the athlete, but when you are playing football you have 21 other guys on the field with you,” Jung said. “If you get in a collision or a pile up, a lot of times, that’s bad luck.”
The Falcons’ trainer is Marty Lauzon and the strength coach is Jesse Ackerman.
In addition to the injured reserve players, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (sprained ankle), defensive end Derrick Shelby (groin), kicker Matt Bryant (hamstring) and defensive end Takk McKinley (shoulder) have missed games because of injuries.
2. Beasley needs counter move. The “Should have drafted Todd Gurley: Best player available” crowd is coming out of the wood works again. Falcons defensive end Vic Beasley has played 351 of the defensive snaps (72.8 percent), but has just one sack, seven tackles, one tackle for loss and three quarterback hits.
Despite moving him back to defensive end, the Falcons have continued to drop him in coverage when needed. Beasley had 15.5 sacks to lead the league in 2016. He had five last season.
“If you’re a one-trick pony, the last thing I’ll say, if you’re a speed rusher, these tackles set for speed,” said Pat Kirwan, a former front executive and analyst on SiriusXM NFL Radio when asked about Beasley on Tuesday. “If you don’t have a counter that’s real. A power (move) across (their) face that is really good or a spin move, if you don’t a second (move.) Most times you need three things, but if you have two, you’ve got a chance. If you’re just a one dimensional rusher, you’re not going to get very far in the NFL against these tackles.”
3. The invisible rushing attack. The offensive line has not opened up much room in the running game. The Falcons have rushed 157 times for 583 yards for a sub-par 3.7 yards per carry and seven rushing touchdowns.
With a chance to run out the clock against the Bucs, the Falcons were stymied on a third-and-2. The short-yardage offense hasn’t improved since they had to pass on third-and-1 in the Super Bowl.
“We’ve got work to do there still,” Quinn said of the run blocking. “We have got to find ways to get running backs Tevin (Coleman) and Ito (Smith) more space. We are going to continue to work really hard at that.”
4. Missed tackles. Going into game against the Giants, the Falcons had missed 64 tackles, which was the third-highest total in the league.
They defense played it’s best game of the season from a tackling standpoint against the Giants running back Saquon Barkley. The Falcons became the first team to hold the rookie sensation to under 100 total yards.
“Some of the things won’t show up on the stat sheet (like) are we improving our tackling,” Quinn said. “We still need to improve our ability to take the ball away.”