Falcons Get Snowed in By Bears, QB Problems Not Melting Away

If one thing can be gleaned from this subpar Falcons football season, that’s this…

Your Atlanta Falcons need a quarterback. Bad.

The Falcons put two of its starting QBs to work this afternoon in a cold, snowy Soldier Field in Chicago and came away with another embarrassing loss that made it all the more clear if it wasn’t already that the team was fooling itself if they thought they could get anywhere without a good passer.

The Falcons suffered another head-shaking loss, this time to the Chicago Bears, who have improved their standing to 7-9 (the Falcons’ current record.) The 37-17 loss is the worst since the Falcons vs Jaguars 23-7 thrashing in London earlier this season.

How bad was it for the Dirty Birds in Chi-Town? On the bubble Bears QB Justin Fields before this game was on the verge of being replaced by whoever is the Bears’ number one draft pick, headed to another team next year (including possibly Atlanta according to some observers.) But based on Bears fans chanting “We want Fields” during the game, it looks as though another opposing team QB in a dismal position in his hometown may have become a legend or at least saved their position on the team just on the virtue of beating the hapless Atlanta Falcons.

As for Atlanta’s passers, Taylor Heinicke gave up three pick-sixes in today’s game. He would be replaced in the fourth quarter due to an apparent injury that he had since last week’s practices. Once again the Falcons turned to Desmond Ridder, hoping he won’t do what he did as soon as he hit the field. Turn over the ball. That’s four turnovers given up by Falcons quarterbacks today.

And, of course, Falcons defense couldn’t stop the Bears run game, so there’s that.

The Falcons are now certain to finish with a losing record this year, six years running. As pathetic as the team’s status is now, they are still alive in the sorry NFC South, thanks to their down south nemesis the New Orleans Saints (8-8) doing their enemies up northeast a favor and beating the division-leading Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8). Falcon fans can’t thank Who Dat Nation too much, because the Falcons play the Saints next week, and will need to beat them to get into the playoffs.

But back to this week’s debacle, what happened coach?

“It’s never one thing,” said coach Arthur Smith after the game. “For me to sit here and try to put blame on one person, it’s now how football works. A lot of things that didn’t go right. Didn’t get the result we wanted or needed, but usually it’s not ever on one person.”

Ok, got it. How about you, quarterback?

“I think they just beat our ass,” said Heinicke.

Fox 5’s Kelly Price asked DE Calais Campbell about today’s loss.

“There’s moments where we look like a team that’s legit, that could go win a Super Bowl,” Campbell told Price after the game. “And there’s moments where we look like a team that isn’t very good.”

That’s true, like when your usually reliable kicker misses two straight field goals. When a promising drive gets truncated because of dumb penalties. When your two starting quarterbacks throw interceptions again and again and again. When your pass rush is spotty and your QB gets sacked because your defense can’t stop theirs. When the coach gives the same answers after repeated losses. When you lose repeatedly to bad, underperforming teams. And, when the only reason you are still “in the hunt” in the playoff picture with a record like the Falcons is because you are in a division that sucks.

Falcons content producer and analyst Tori McElhaney wrote an enlightening post on the Falcons quarterback issues not just this season, but up to the departure of their last long-running, but underappreciated QB, Matt Ryan. She points out that the Falcons QB situation is a problem, but not the only problem.

“To put the inconsistencies of the offense on the quarterback situation alone is unfair, and wrong.” she wrote. “However, the counterpoint to that is there are only so many common denominators to point to over a three-year span. An ever-changing situation at quarterback is one of them, and the same play caller is the other.”

The Falcons’ many problems (and paramount among them is the quarterback position) won’t be solved overnight. The coming off-season will tell us if the Falcons front office is serious about fixing these issues.  Next year’s NFL Draft and free agency will be a big deal at Flowery Branch in 2024.

By Brian Allen, Editor and Founder, Sports in the ATL

 PLAYERS Atlanta Falcons  Chicago Bears
Passing Taylor Heinicke (10-29; 163 yds; 1 TD; 3 ints) Justin Fields (20-32); 268 yds; 1 TD
Rushing Bijan Robinson (15 cars; 75 yds) Khalil Herbert (18 cars; 124 yds; 1 TD
Receiving Tyler Allgeier (1 rec; 75 yds; 1 TD) D.J. Moore (9 recs; 159 yds; 1 TD)
BY THE NUMBERS Atlanta Falcons (7-9) 17 Chicago Bears (7-9) 37✅
Score trend 0-7-3-7 7-14-6-10
Total Yards 307 432
Pass Yards 173 240
Rush Yards 134 192
Yards per Play 5.2 6.0
First Downs 15 22
Third Down Conversions 4/13 6/16
Penalties/Yards 1/15 5/55
Turnovers 4 (4 ints.) 0
Time Possession 22:46 37:14