Atlanta Falcons Hold Players’ Only Meeting


The Atlanta Falcons are reeling, losers of five of their last six games. The team reportedly held a players’ only meeting after their 4th consecutive loss.

ESPN’s Vaughn McClure wrote a post last night about the struggling 6-5 Atlanta Falcons hold a players’ only meeting on Tuesday, as the team desperately tries to right the ship during a potential playoff run.

Atlanta and the NFC West’s Seattle Seahawks are both tied at 6-5 for the final NFC Wild Card spot entering Week 13. Teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the New York Giants, and the Chicago Bears are nipping at the Atlanta Falcons’ heels a game back at 5-6. Atlanta will play division rival Tampa Bay down in Raymond James on Sunday.

-= Related: Atlanta Falcons Cannot Afford Another Loss to Tampa Bay =-

McClure reports that Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn knew about the players’ only meeting prior to it happening. Since he is building a reputation as a players’ coach, McClure believes that Quinn “more than likely viewed the players-only meeting as a spark, rather than a deterrent.”

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Quarterback Matt Ryan and Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan have received the bulk of the recent criticism surrounding the downward spiral of the Atlanta Falcons. Ryan has turned the football over 13 times in the last seven games (10 interceptions and three fumbles).

Though Ryan hasn’t said it publicly, behind closed doors Ryan is reportedly like many of his teammates critical of the inherent complexities of Shanahan’s offensive system. However, Ryan has taken the brunt of the blame when asked about the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive woes of the last month and a half.

While the zone blocking scheme of Kyle Shanahan has significantly elevated the rushing attack of the Atlanta Falcons as well as improved the overall protection from the team’s once-porous offensive line, Atlanta’s once lethal aerial attack has become more pedestrian by the week.

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  • Ryan is a three-time NFL Pro Bowler and has led the Atlanta Falcons to four NFC Playoff appearances in his first seven years in the league. Entering 2015, Ryan was perennially received as a Top 10 passer in the NFL. However since entering Kyle Shanahan’s West Coast offense after thriving in former OC Dirk Koetter’s Air Coryell attack, Matt Ryan is  having his worst season as a passer since his rookie and sophomore years statistically (2008-09).

    Whether it’s the confusing route trees or the unfamiliar progressions, Matt Ryan though he will still likely throw for well over 4,000 passing yards is not the same effective passer in this offensive system. An improved running game in theory was going to aid Matt Ryan, not hurt him.

    Having Matt Ryan struggle so badly in recent weeks in Shanahan’s West Coast passing attack seems to point out obvious flaws in the system. Ryan is the best quarterback Shanahan has worked with by a large margin. Guys that have played in Shanahan’s system include Matt Schaub, T.J. Yates, Robert Griffin III, Rex Grossman, and Brian Hoyer, all of whom Matt Ryan is undoubtedly better than.

    The reason the offense is the scapegoat in the Atlanta Falcons’ recent slide is that the defense has played better than it has in years under HC Dan Quinn and DC Richard Smith. Atlanta seems to force a turnover or two every game despite having no pass rush, a young secondary, and a finite ceiling at linebacker.

    Sure, the special teams hasn’t been as electric as it once was in years past. KR/WR Devin Hester hasn’t played since Preseason Week 2. He will return on Sunday versus the Bucs. K Matt Bryant has dealt with a quadriceps injury, leading to the signing of veteran K Shayne Graham on Thanksgiving Day. However, while Atlanta was stellar on special teams entering 2015, it’s not the phase of the game indicative of the team’s successes or failures this season.

    Next: Matt Ryan: Can He Break Out of Slump in 2015?

    Hopefully this players’ only meeting ignites the fire needed to get the Atlanta Falcons back into the NFC Playoffs. Their game on Sunday down in Tampa is the biggest game of the season for the Dirty Birds. Another loss to the Buccaneers could signal the end of the Atlanta Falcons’ 2015 playoff aspirations.