At New Orleans
8:00 p.m. ET
Key Coaching Decision #1: (Coin toss / 15:00 Q1)
• The Falcons won the toss but inexplicably decided to defer. We thought Atlanta would have seen an advantage in taking the ball and trying to take a lead in the game. Instead, for some reason, Dan Quinn decided to put his defense on the field and they promptly gave up an opening-drive touchdown. The Falcons trailed from the opening drive and never drew even again.
Key Coaching Decision #2: (ATL ball, trailing 17-3 / fourth-and-1, ATL 18 / 9:25 Q3)
• The Atlanta defense had actually performed quite well in keeping the score to a two-possession game. On this possession, the Falcons faced fourth down and less than half a yard. Through much of the game, the Falcons have been very aggressive in pursuing fourth-down opportunities. Yet, in this case, they decided to punt and the Saints immediately took the next possession in for a touchdown and a 24-3 lead. Obviously, going for a fourth down so deep in your own territory is generally not advisable. However, in this case, we wondered if head coach Dan Quinn thought about it. Whenever he plays the Saints, it is a shootout, and at this point in time, he already trailed by two touchdowns.
• The Saints have done a remarkable job this season utilizing all of their personnel. In this game, quarterback Drew Brees found four different undrafted players for passing touchdowns. In addition, undrafted defensive lineman Michael Ola, who joined the team in Week 6, also offered versatility as a blocking tight end. Undrafted backup quarterback Taysom Hill continues to be a key contributor.
• Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen continues to grow as a strategist. His unit is playing much more disciplined defensive football and is much more aware of game situations. This unit no longer over-pursues, and rarely is susceptible to backside plays.
• We feel that if the Falcons are going to continue to grow as a team as they look forward to the 2019 season, head coach Dan Quinn and his staff are going to have to get better at making adjustments. They just don’t seem to make many, and it has hurt them. The Falcons can become one-dimensional on offense and defense, which makes them fairly predictable.