ATLANTA (CBS46) – Are the Falcons in a long-term decline or is it too early to hit the panic button with the team off to a 1-3 start in 2019? Those are the questions Falcons fans are asking as the team’s recent struggles continued Sunday with a blowout loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Since the Falcons walked off the field after they gave up a 28-3 lead to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51, the team’s record has dropped from 11-7 in 2017, to 7-9 in 2018, to 1-3 in 2019. That’s a combined record of 19-19 over the team’s last 38 games.
Injuries have played a large role in the team’s struggles. In 2018, the team lost both starting safeties for most of the year, linebacker Deion Jones was out for part of the season, and starting running back Devonta Freeman was out nearly the entire season.
In 2019, starting safety Keanu Neal is once again out for the season and potential starting guard Chris Lindstrom has been out for the last three games and will likely miss more.
Turnovers have played a role in the slow start to the 2019 season. The team turned the ball over three times in each of its first two games this season and once in each of the last two games. Quarterback Matt Ryan has thrown six interceptions through the first four games after throwing a total of seven all year in 2018. Including fumbles, the Falcons are -6 in the turnover battle this season.
Not surprisingly, in the Falcons’ one victory this season against the Eagles, the Falcons were even in turnovers against the Philadelphia Eagles. It was also the game the Falcons allowed the fewest rushing yards this season.
For comparison, in 2018, the Falcons lost just two games when they were even or won the turnover battle in a game (Week 11 vs. the Cowboys; Week 14 vs. the Packers).
As the Falcons look for answers to their 1-3 starts, the answer may be as simple as, hold on to the ball.