Ryan has never had to dig out of 0-2 hole

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan discussing the devastating last-second 40-39 loss to the Cowboys Sept. 20, 2020, in Arlngton, Texas.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is in uncharted waters.

For the first time in his career, the Falcons have started the season 0-2.

From 2002 to 2020, 149 teams started the year 0-2, according to Pro-Football Reference. It was in 2002 that the league last expanded the playoffs. The league expanded the playoffs to seven teams per conference for the 2020 season.

The average finish of those teams was 6-10. A total of 16 of the 149 teams (10.7%) made the playoffs and just one team, the 2007 New York Giants, moved on to win the Super Bowl.

ExploreMark Bradley: Blowing games is what Dan Quinn's Falcons do

The best finish of 0-2 teams was 12-4 (twice), the most recent time by the 2013 Carolina Panthers. Two teams, including the 2017 Browns, went on to finish 0-16.

“I think you have to get the message across that it’s a marathon,” Ryan said. “There is no question that this one stings. It hurts, but a lot can happen. We have 14 games to go in the regular season. There is plenty of time to get done what we need to get done, but we’ve got to close out games when we get chances like this.”

The last time the Falcons started 0-2 was in 2007, under Bobby Petrino. That team went on to finish 3-13 and Petrino left to coach Arkansas in the SEC with three games to play.

Ryan was drafted by the Falcons in 2008 and has guided the Falcons to the playoffs in six of his 12 seasons, including a trip to Super Bowl LI.

The Falcons started 1-1 last season, but then dropped their next six games.

At 1-7, owner Arthur Blank held a media session to say the entire football operation would be examined. After the Falcons went 6-2 down the stretch, he elected to keep coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff in place, while president Rich McKay was named to oversee the operation.

With such a horrendous loss, there’s certain to be talk of a shakeup. Fox analyst Tony Gonzalez, a former Falcons and a Pro Football Hall of Famer, mentioned such a scenario during the pre-game show.

Ryan was asked about a possible coaching change.

“It’s early,” Ryan said. “It’s early in this season. So, we’ve got a long way to go. I don’t think about those kind of things.”

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones was on the hands team as the they were caught off guard by a slow rolling kick.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

The Falcons are set to face the Bears (2-0) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Bears beat the Giants 17-13 on Sunday.

“We all need to focus on next week and getting a win next week at home,” Ryan said. “We played a good team today. They did a good job of hanging in there and battling back. But we just have to focus on what’s in front of us and being better next week.”

ExploreWhat Matt Ryan said of the loss

Last season, nine teams started 0-2 and none made the playoffs.

In 2019, Cincinnati (2-14), Washington (3-13), the New York Giants (4-12), Carolina (5-11), Miami (5-11), Jacksonville (6-10), the New York Jets ( 7-9), Denver (7-9) and Pittsburgh (8-8) all started the season with two losses.

For the Giants, it was their third consecutive 0-2 start, and they elected to move on from longtime quarterback Eli Manning. Daniel Jones took over for their third game. Now, they’ve started 0-2 for a fourth straight season.

The Falcons dodged the 0-2 start last season with a dramatic win over Philadelphia. After pulling to 1-1, they lost their next six games. The Falcons avoided the 0-2 start in 2018 with a win over Carolina after a season-opening loss to the Eagles.

The Falcons' defense has been the problem. A week after allowing Seattle to complete 31 of 35 passes, the defense gave up 570 yards and 33 first downs to the Cowboys.

Raheem Morris, who helped the defense get turned over the second half of last season, was named the defensive coordinator. He’s off to a shaky start.

“Well, I would say it’s concerning enough that we really wanted to challenge for some takeaways,” Quinn said. “I was pleased to see that part. I suspect that this is the same type of group that when we see some things that we want to get corrected and move on, that that will happen as well.”

Quinn has been relying relationships between the players to led to better play on the field.

“They’re connected,” Quinn said. “They’re ready to go. We came out in the right space, but we didn’t finish in the right space. Hopefully, like I said, we’ll apply the lessons that we learned — defensively, offensively, teams-wise — the whole thing, to not have this moment and these feelings come back again.”

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