Falcons head coach Dan Quinn addresses the 24-12 win over Jacksonville in Atlanta. (Video by D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

There go the Falcons muddling up matters with another win

The tough decisions of a rich guy certainly are different than yours or mine, but that doesn’t necessarily make them less difficult.

These tough calls sometimes range beyond which monocle to wear to the yacht club or how many Rembrandts are too many Rembrandts. 

Most days I would envy Arthur Blank — owner of the Falcons and a fair slice of Montana — but not on the day when he ultimately decides what to do with his NFL team’s upper management. With another win Sunday over the piece of burnt toast that is the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Falcons continued to complicate what seemed such a simple choice just seven weeks ago. To keep his coach and GM, or to clean house and re-brand his team once more? Who would blame Blank if he just left the matter to chance and flipped a 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar — the world’s most expensive coin, according to moneyinc.com — and let that determine the fate of Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff?

All this winning of late is really inconvenient.

It’s not just the outside world that is bumfuzzled by a Falcons team 1-7 at the break of the bye week and 5-2 since.

“Yeah, there is some confusion,” said tackle Jake Matthews, grappling with what’s clicking now that didn’t click the season’s first eight games. “All year, we’ve worked hard. There has been the same mindset. We never once thought anything was handed to us. We tried to earn everything.”

Only, it’s working now. 

Sunday just compounded the confusion. Here was a day in which so many of the elements that were supposed to make these Falcons a playoff-capable team showed themselves much too late. After a win last week at San Francisco, their position in the 2020 draft slipped from eighth overall to 12th. This week it figures to slip even more, that being the wages of pride.

Devonta Freeman, the centerpiece who has been too often the salad fork, scored twice and totaled 127 yards of offense (74 receiving, 53 rushing).

Julio Jones was his usual sublimely professional self, continuing to do more than any other player on this roster to save Quinn’s job (10 catches, 166 yards). If the coach does survive, he owes his receiver at least 10 percent of his future earnings, not that Jones needs it.

Matt Ryan suffered two interceptions, but it didn’t matter. These Jags were incapable of making any good use of largesse, and Ryan still had himself another 300-yard passing game (384, specifically).

And the very symbol of Quinn’s misplaced judgment — defensive end Vic Beasley — had himself another sack Sunday, his fourth in his last three games and his eighth overall. With one game left in Tampa, he could reach double digits in sacks this year, an unofficial sign of the apocalypse.

Falcons defensive end Vic Beasley talks about his renewed sack production, adding another Sunday against the Jaguars. (Video by D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

On Dec. 22, we ask, are these Falcons ultimately a good team? A simplistic question, but the only kind of standard remaining with which to measure a team that left its playoff aspirations back in late October.

“I’ve been seeing a good team. The guys in this locker room got what it takes to be successful,” Freeman insisted.

“I feel like we could have done this earlier but that’s not how it happened,” said linebacker Deion Jones, working from the we-should-have-been-good-from-the-jump playbook. “We had to change the course of the ship, that’s all.”

Of the message he wanted to leave those fans who watched in person the Falcons last home game of a two-faced season — barely a quorum at the Benz — Matthews suggested: “Hang in there. We’re a good team. We’ll be back.”

Yes, a good team at the moment. But let’s do the math — it’s simple enough that even a journalism major can perform on a set of chubby fingers. Hmmm, 1-7 the first half. And 5-2 since. That’s 6-9 altogether, not the kind of winning percentage you’d want from your surgeon or your football team.

There is nothing simple or sensible about where these Falcons find themselves, and what solution fits best. Firing offenses are supposed to be clearer than this.  

The trend is slightly encouraging. The Falcons became good by the close of 2019. 

The bottom line falls several games below expectation. They didn’t get good quickly enough. 

One more game to play, in Tampa, then there is a decision due. I wouldn’t be surprised if the rich guy in charge even loses a little sleep between now and then, while wrestling with a call that will determine the Falcons course well into the next decade, that’s all. 

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About the Author

Steve Hummer
Steve Hummer
Steve Hummer writes sports features for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He covers a wide range of sports and topics.
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