Here are the grades, after reviewing the film on gamepass.nfl.com, for the Falcons after their embarrassing 28-16 loss to the Browns on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.
Run offense: The Browns bottled up the Falcons’ running game. After taking a 28-7 lead in the third quarter, the Falcons were forced to pass. Tevin Coleman rushed for 44 yards on 11 carries. The Falcons were held to 71 yards rushing on 18 carries for a sub-standard 3.7 yards per carry. The Falcons can’t seem to find any consistency with the rushing attack. Grade: C-plus
Pass offense: Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 10,000 receiving yards, surpassing former Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson's previous record of 115 games. Jones is 769 yards behind wide receiver Roddy White (10,863) for the most yards receiving in franchise history. Matt Ryan completed 38 of 52 passes for 330 yards, including two touchdowns, and had a fumble. He finished with 102.2 passer rating. Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu had a costly fumble at the start of the third quarter when he carelessly reached the ball out 14 yards away from the first down marker. “I don’t know why he’s being so careless with this ball right here,” Fox Sports color analyst Ronde Barber said. “There is no reason to.” Tight end Austin Hooper had his fourth 50-yard receiving game this season. He had 10 catches for 56 yards and one touchdown. Hooper has 46 catches for 418 yards and three touchdowns. He’s on pace to catch a career-high 82 passes. Grade: D
Run defense: The defense was shredded for 211 rushing yards. Browns running back Nick Chubb rushed for 176 yards, including a 92-yard run that should been stopped by Duke Riley at the 9-yard line or at least by free safety Damontae Kazee at the 23-yard line. Riley disowned his gap and tried to run around a block by Cleveland center J.C. Tretter instead of shedding the block. Kazee went for a low arm tackle on the sturdy Chubb. A nice form tackle – hit, wrap and lift – would have worked. The defense acted like they never had seen an inverted wishbone before. While it was likely an un-scouted look, it was the most archaic of football formations. Pro defenders should be able to adjust on the fly and play gap-sound defense against the formation. The Falcons did not, but were bailed out by an errant pass from running back Dontrell Hilliard that was intercepted by Kazee. Trufant gave a questionable effort on the 92-yard touchdown run and appeared to be running away from the play instead of attacking the ball carrier. Grade: F
Pass defense: Newly acquired defensive end Bruce Irvin entered the game to play Takk McKinley’s right defensive end spot in the second quarter. He played right end next to Jack Crawford and then Grady Jarrett on the following play. On third-and-9, the Falcons used their NASCAR package of Beasley, Jarrett, Irvin and McKinley. Irvin stood up at tackle and did an outside stunt with McKinley coming inside. He came out and on the next play and Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield found Rashard Higgins open in the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown pass. Kazee stayed on top of Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who had a step on Brian Poole. The Falcons were expecting Alford, who was playing on a bad ankle, to handle Higgins one-on-one. Trufant appeared to be giving receivers too much cushion. On Chubb’s 12-yard touchdown pass, the Browns faked a dive and a reverse. Mayfield looked to his left and linebacker De’Vondre Campbell slide out two steps. Mayfield whipped around to his right and tossed a dart to Chubb. Campbell couldn’t make up the two steps and Chubb barreled into the end zone. Grade D-minus
Special teams: Justin Bethel had one tackle has 11 for the season, which leads the league in special-teams tackles. Giorgio Tavecchio made all of kicks. Matt Bosher averaged 39.3 yards on three punts and placed two down inside the 20. He had 4.11 seconds of hangtime on his first punt of 36 yards in the first quarter. His second punt went for 38 yards, but had 4.55 seconds of hangtime and forced a fair catch. His third punt had 4.96 seconds of hangtime and went for 44 yards and was returned for 6 yards. Marvin Hall had a nice 26 yard kickoff return. The Falcons aren’t getting anything out of punt returner Justin Hardy. However, he is a dependable fair catcher. Grade C-minus
Coaching: The Falcons were not ready to play and that ultimately stops at the desk of Dan Quinn. After a tumultuous four-week climb back to .500 from a 1-4 start, the Falcons biggest challenge against Cleveland was a psychological one. They couldn’t handle the fact that they were playing the 2-6-1 Browns and played down to their level. When it was time to wake up, Sanu gave the ball back to the Browns by reaching the ball out miles away from the first-down marker. Also, the Falcons have failed to add any power to the offense. They picked up a fourth-and-1 early in the game when Sanu handed off to Ito Smith in the wildcat formation. Later in the game on fourth-and-goal inside the 1, they threw a pass to third-string tight end Eric Saubert. The fullback Rick Ortiz was inactive for the game. This is one of lessons from Super Bowl LI that they have refused to correct. The Falcons are now 2-of-6 on fourth downs and don’t have a power package to hammer out a tough yard or two when they need it the most. The Falcons took the Browns lightly. The Falcons came out flat. The Falcons were steamrolled. Grade F
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