Jones, Ryan discuss Koetter’s play-calling after loss to Saints

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Falcons interim coach Raheem Morris comments on the team’s offensive efforts inside the 20-yard line against the New Orleans Saints.

In eight quarters of action this season, the Falcons could muster just one touchdown against the rival Saints.

In the 21-16 loss Sunday to the Saints, the Falcons didn’t score a touchdown until the fourth quarter and settled for three first-half field goals after stalling.

Late in the game with a chance to win, the Falcons couldn’t break the goal-line twice.

On four trips inside the Saints’ 20 yard line, they scored one touchdown.

After the game, Falcons interim head coach Raheem Morris, quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones were asked about the team’s struggles and the play-calling of offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.

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“I’m very confident in our team, just in general,” Morris said when asked if he was confident in the play-calling. “You never separate anyone when you talk about the team. The confidence that flows through us in order to go out there and dictate terms and try to win the game and do what we need to do, we have confidence in that.

“We did not do that today. Those things every week will always be looked at, they will always be judged. You can always play Monday morning quarterback, but we refuse to do that here. We will always come out ready to game plan for our next opponent.”

Ryan was asked, “Do you have still have confidence in Dirk and do you still think he’s a good fit for you and this offense?”

He said, “I do. I have confidence. Dirk does a good job of putting the plan together and putting us in situations to be successful. I think like every week, there are some things he can do differently and there are things we have to do differently as players and make plays when the situations present themselves. That’s how I feel at this point. We’ve got to find a way to get the job done. We’ve got four games to go and hopefully we can be the most productive we’ve been all year in this last quarter.”

Jones was asked, “What have you thought of the play calling and is that part of the problem?

Jones said, “It comes down to execution at the end of the day. Definitely execution. But, you know, it’s like we watch film … but if its some situations there like they played us earlier in the game we have to make in-game adjustments. They are doing this, but we have to get after them doing that. You can always say that. But it’s hard for me. I don’t know. He’s in the box. I can’t see.”

Jones was also asked if the play-calling was too predictable.

“That’s not my call,” Jones said. “It’s us together as a unit. I don’t know if we were predictable or not.”

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Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones makes a first-down reception against the New Orleans Saints during the first half Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones makes a first-down reception against the New Orleans Saints during the first half Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.  (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

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Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones makes a first-down reception against the New Orleans Saints during the first half Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

In the two losses to the Saints this year, the Falcons have converted on 5 of 27 third downs. In Sunday’s game, they were 5 of 13. The Saints did enter the game with the No. 1 ranked defense in the NFL, allowing just 284.9 yards per game.

The Saints held the Falcons to 262 total yards.

The offensive line, which gave up eight sacks and 11 quarterback hits in the first meeting on Nov. 22, gave up three sacks and eight hits.

Also, the Falcons couldn’t run the ball effectively. They rushed 21 times for 70 yards for a 3.3 yards per carry average.

“They are a good defense, that’s for sure,” Ryan said. “I think part of it has to do with the type of third downs we were in. We needed to be in more third-and-shorts to give us better opportunities. We weren’t in those and I think we needed to play better. The combination of that makes it for a tough two games against them.”

With a chance to win the game, the Falcons called three straight runs for Todd Gurley. The team is managing his chronic left knee issues. He played sparingly until Ito Smith left the game with a head injury.

“We were productive on the first one,” Ryan said. “Got us into good position, second and short and then not productive with the last two runs. That’s tough. Our job as players is to execute the play calls and do our jobs, make them work and we didn’t do a good enough job today.”

After a no gain and loss of seven yards, the Falcons tried to throw a corner route into the end zone. With the pocket collapsing, Ryan lofted up a prayer to Jones that was behind him.

Jones was running a corner route, but had to stop and reach back and try to make a difficult catch.

“I was just trying to give Julio a chance in the back (of the end zone),” Ryan said. “I didn’t know if I could hold on to the ball any longer than I did. I just tried to give him some air and give him a chance. It probably just needed a touch of a bit more air. In those situations you have to put one up and see what happens.”

Falcons’ final four games

Falcons at Chargers at 4:25 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 13

Buccaneers at Falcons at 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 20

Falcons at Chiefs at 1 p.m., Dec. 27

Falcons at Buccaneers at 1 p.m., Jan. 3

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