Though the Falcons are eliminated from the playoffs, coach Dan Quinn plans to continue to try to win the final four games of the season.
There will be no tanking. But there may be a chance to look to the future and develop some of the younger players on the roster.
Quinn wants to get a look at guard Chris Lindstrom, who was supposed to be the crown jewel of the offensive line rebuild. He was the 14th overall pick in the draft out of Boston College, but suffered a broken foot in the season opener.
Lindstrom was placed on injured reserve with a designation to return. He has not been cleared by the doctors to be activated for his 21-day rehabilitation period.
“We still have one player that we are waiting to see where Chris would be,” Quinn said Friday. “We’ll certainly have a better understanding of that as we get into next week. All things for us are on the table, looking to see how we can play better. That’s always part of it.”
The offensive line collapsed against the Saints on Thursday night. The Falcons couldn’t run the ball and gave up nine sacks and 13 quarterback hits in a 26-18 loss. The formula to run the ball to set up the play-action passing attack has not worked consistently this season.
When the Falcons have gotten into obvious passing situations, the offensive line has not protected Ryan.
Quinn broke down all nine of the sacks.
“So there was nine in total for the entire game, and I thought for New Orleans, there was three that I thought were on coverage,” Quinn said. “They’re rushing coverage, working together, and that happened where to go, where they were guarded or what have you.
“Then there was two each on (left tackle Jake) Matthews and (right tackle) Kaleb McGary. So, two each on them. One each on (running back) Devonta (Freeman) and (right guard) Jamon Brown. At the end of the day, just to have nine is totally unacceptable to have that, and then couple that with the turnovers, that’s where it was at.”
Ryan threw two interceptions and lost a fumble. He also took a nasty stiff-arm from Saints defensive tackle Shy Tuttle on one of the interceptions.
With the game on the line, the Falcons couldn’t overcome the porous blocking up front.
“What made it probably more disappointing was to have the three (sacks) on the last drive with a chance to go with just some crazy onside kicks and stuff,” Quinn said. “So to have the game end that way was, I thought, bummed you out more than anything.”
In addition to hoping to look at Lindstrom, Quinn will try to develop other younger players. He didn’t respond when asked about resting injured veterans such as tight Austin Hooper (knee) and wide receiver Julio Jones (shoulder).
“You definitely want to take a look and see where you are at,” Quinn said. “Through some injuries we’ve already had that at a number of spots already to see where they development could go and who you could look at. Some of that starts on special teams.”
The Falcons already have taken extended looks at wide receivers Russell Gage and Christian Blake, defensive end Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, cornerback Kendall Sheffield and to a lesser degree running back Qadree Ollison.
“Those chances sometimes they come up through injury,” Quinn said. “But the other part is that we want to keep developing them and pushing them so they can max that out. But it’s always still about playing our best to go win.”
Despite the loss, the Falcons continue to play hard for Quinn, who’s being evaluated and possibly could get terminated.
“We always know that,” free safety Ricardo Allen said. “I try to stay out of that. That’s why I try to get out there and play as hard as I can, do as much as I can for my team and do what I can for Coach Q.
“Try to be a leader and a captain, try to be one of the hardest-working players on the team, try to come out with these wins in front of our fans and at home.”
It has been a difficult season for Quinn.
“I’ve certainly learned a helluva a lot of this year,” Quinn said. “More so than any year. We are going to keep continuing to push and go for it like crazy.”
To close the season, the Falcons host Carolina at 1 p.m. Dec. 8 before going to play San Francisco on Dec. 15, hosting Jacksonville in the home finale Dec. 22 and at Tampa Bay on Dec. 29.
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Credit: Doug Roberson/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution