Quinn: ‘Tale of two halves’ for defense won’t be tolerated

Falcons coach Dan Quinn has seen enough.

“No more tale of two halves,” Quinn said on Monday, the day after the Falcons' 40-39 loss at the Cowboys on a last-second field goal.

The Falcons built a 20-0 lead and we up 29-10 at the halftime before collapsing in the second half. They held a 15-point lead with 4:45 to play.

“We’ll turn our attention to Chicago,” Quinn said. “We’ll fight like hell and reset. I just wanted to make sure that we were very clear on that in terms on how we are going to move forward and what’s expected from all of us. That responsibility is on everyone, players, coaches, everyone, period.”

The defense started out well and created four turnovers. Linebacker Foye Oluokun was running around knocking the ball off of Cowboys at an alarming rate.

“I thought Foye had just about the best 17 plays of a linebacker that I can remember with the amount of forced fumbles to go,” Quinn said. “I thought he was just on it. A performance like that is hard to replicate by anybody.”

Then Oluokun suffered a hamstring injury and was out for the game.

The Falcons gave up 14 first downs and 203 yards in the first half, when Dallas converted 2 of 6 on third downs.

In the second half, the defense, without Oluokun, defensive end Takk McKinley (groin) and safety Ricardo Allen (elbow), fell apart.

The Falcons gave up 367 total yards,19 first downs and the Cowboys converted on 5 of 7 third downs in the second half.

The Falcons brought pressure in the first half with blitzing from linebacker Deion Jones. In the second half, Quinn said they did not stop attacking and they did send cornerback A.J. Terrell on a blitz.

“I think more than anything, you talk about the explosive plays,” Quinn said. “That was a big one where they had three of them.”

Quinn was not asked how strong safety Keanu Neal ended up on Dallas wide receiver Amari Cooper in coverage. The speedier Cooper got loose for a 59-yard gain. Was it a blown coverage? Or was it just a mismatch that was exploited?

Also, in the second half the Cowboys were 4 of 4 in the red zone.

“We have to dig hard on the red zone and make sure that part, when you’re able to make some stops there, kick some field goals, that’s going to be a big factor,” Quinn said. “We’ve got to be able to do that.”

Quinn insisted that the defense kept attacking in the second half. LaRoy Reynolds and rookie Mykal Walker played for Oluokun.

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner and Steven Means picked up McKinley’s snaps.

Neal and Damontae Kazee played most of the safety snaps and rookie Jaylinn Hawkins played five plays.

“If you’re called upon, you’ve got to be able to deliver,” Quinn said.

Quinn was happy with the turnovers.

“In the first game, creating zero, that’s certainly not going to get it done,” Quinn said. “So to have us back in the plus in a big way, that was more the style and identity that we are looking for in forcing takeaways and creating good field position for the offense."

After the game, Jones didn’t have a good explanation for the defense’s second-half collapse.

“A lot of learning on tape,” Jones said. “We have got to hone in on our finishing (opportunities) and make them happen our way.”

Jones said the defense didn’t do anything different in the first half, when they gave up 10 points and the second half, when they gave up 30 points.

He liked blitzing and had a shared sack with Dante Fowler.

The Falcons clearly missed Oluokun and McKinley.

“We definitely missed Foye," Jones said. "His energy. All of that. Next guy up. We just have finish off what we need to finish. He was still involved. He was getting guys on the side, keeping guys in it. He was still there. He just wasn’t on the field.”

The Falcons don’t plan to let the devastating loss to the Cowboys linger.

“We are all a team,” Jones said. "We win and lose together.

“I feel like we are on the right track. Just little growing pains that we are going through. Once we get through that, we are going to be all right.”

The Falcons don’t believe they are headed down the same path as last season, which started 1-7. They were 1-4 in 2018.

“Not at all, we’ve got the right team with us,” Jones said. “A lot of tough-minded guys. Guys that are going to turn over every stone to get a W. Like I said, we just didn’t finish the way we wanted to.”

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