ATLANTA – With one game left to play in the 2018 season, Falcons head coach Dan Quinn is solely focused on putting together a game plan to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-10) and finish the season with three straight wins.
This would put the Falcons at 7-9 on the year, missing the playoffs for the first time in two seasons.
Quinn was asked what the areas he believes his team needs to be better in next season to get back to Super Bowl contention.
And while he didn’t want to go too far in detail at the moment, Quinn listed off a few areas that immediately came to mind:
1. Win the turnover margin
Since Quinn arrived in Atlanta, he’s preached the importance of winning in the turnover margin. So much so, the Falcons have a full day of practice dedicated to this area. The Falcons sit at plus-one in the turnover margin, tied for 14th in the league. They’ve created 18 takeaways defensively and have turned the ball over 17 times. Atlanta has been much better in this area the past two games and Quinn would like to see the turnover margin much higher next season.
2. Win in the run game – both offensively and defensively*
The Falcons inability to stop the run and run the ball efficiently at times this season has played a role in their record on the year. The Falcons rank 27th against the run, giving up 127.7 yards a game. In Quinn’s defense, it starts with shutting down opponents’ run games first and foremost. On the other side of the ball, Atlanta’s offense hasn’t been able to rely on their run game to the level they expect week in and week out. The Falcons have the 27th rushing attack in the league, averaging 97.6 yards a game.
*3. Affect the quarterback more *
The Falcons have 36 sacks on the year putting them at 23rd in the league in this category. Quinn often talks about the importance of affecting quarterbacks and getting them off their spot, and it hasn’t consistently been to the level Quinn expects this season. Grady Jarrett, Takk McKinley and Jack Crawford all have six sacks on the year, the most on the team.
Look for these areas to be at the front of the Falcons’ plan for improvement this offseason.
“We’re going to work like crazy to make sure we capture that part of our identity. Running it, stopping the run. Affecting the [quarterback] taking care of the ball, creating takeaways, that’s Falcons football.”