WATCH: 10 Takeaways From Atlanta Falcons Loss to Houston Texans
The Atlanta Falcons lost their third straight with a 53-32 defeat against the Houston Texans on Sunday. There's still a lot of football left, but it's hard to imagine the Falcons getting off to a worse start in 2019.
Let's dive into our Top 10 takeaways from the Falcons' latest embarrassing defeat.
1. The most obvious takeaway is how poorly Atlanta's defense played yet again despite loud criticism for the unit and head coach Dan Quinn all of last week. Even if we subtracted the pick-six Houston recorded at the end of the game, the Falcons still allowed a season-high 47 points and a ridiculous 592 yards.
Atlanta has allowed a lot of quarterbacks to look like Pro Bowlers this year, but Deshaun Watson turned in a career day with as many touchdowns as incompletions on Sunday. He set an NFL record becoming the first quarterback in league history with at least 400 passing yards and five touchdowns with five or fewer incompletions.
2. The Falcons had a better start to this game, which has been a big focal point for this team, but Atlanta didn't appear to make any adjustments coming out of halftime. Watson and his favorite target in Week 5, wide receiver Will Fuller, who posted more than 200 receiving yards and three touchdowns, continued to shred the Falcons defense, and the Atlanta offense looked sluggish to start the second half. The Falcons ran just 11 plays in the third quarter and a one-point halftime Atlanta lead turned into another double-digit deficit because the Texans scored 17 points in the quarter.
3. Last week, I let Julio Jones slide because he was terrific in the first three weeks and faced a tough matchup against the Tennessee Titans. But a second straight game with Jones posting under 55 receiving yards without a touchdown is not acceptable. He's now been held under that mark three times this season.
It's not all on him. Matt Ryan targeted him just once in the second half. Jones should never go 30 minutes in a game with just one target. Dirk Koetter did a better job of involving Calvin Ridley on Sunday, and Austin Hooper along with Mohamed Sanu continue to be reliable, but Koetter needs to find more ways to get the ball into the hands of the team's best player.
4. After the game, Texans wide receiver Keke Coutee called the Falcons defense "pretty basic" and added the Falcons "were going to be running the same thing over and over again." Obviously that's a telling statement, but it's a little refreshing for me to hear because that's what I've been seeing from the Falcons defense all season long.
Atlanta's defense didn't have any exotic blitzes and hardly rushed more than four defenders against Watson. Particularly in the red zone, Quinn was satisfied rushing three and dropping eight, and then the coverage didn't hold up.
To me, that's a scared defensive game plan. Do the Falcons have the players in the secondary to hold up in coverage long if Quinn brings lots of blitzes? No, but they aren't holding up in coverage with only four rushers anyway. The only chance Atlanta has at creating havoc plays on defense is pressuring the quarterback. It's not going to happen with the basic defense Quinn called Sunday.
5. We all like to rip on Vic Beasley, but the linebacker may have played his worst game as a pro on Sunday. He was invisible -- and when I say that, I mean he wasn't even in the box score. Beasley recorded zero stats against the Texans, as he even failed to make a tackle.
This fact alone has Quinn's coaching seat getting extremely warm. Remember, Quinn said over the summer that he would personally work with Beasley and make him his responsibility.
6. The only thing Quinn continued to say during the offseason is the physicality he wanted to bring back to the defense. I'm not seeing any of that either. Granted, this defense hasn't quit on its coach. They are playing hard even late in blowout games, but this team is not physical. They don't have an identity at all.
7. The pass defense was so bad it's easy to overlook that the run defense was just about equally poor. Atlanta allowed 166 rushing yards and a touchdown with a 4.9 yards per carry average versus the Texans. The Falcons managed just three tackles for loss and zero sacks.
8. On offense, the offensive line continues to be the biggest problem, which is disappointing considering the offseason investments in that position group, but not at all surprising considering the injuries to the unit. The Falcons allowed two sacks, and while Matt Ryan can be more accurate, he doesn't look comfortable in the pocket. The running game is worse, as there were absolutely no holes for Devonta Freeman or Ito Smith to run through Sunday.
Freeman's best run against the Texans came in the wildcat formation. When he received the ball in space on a screen pass, he looked good, eluding a couple tackles on his way to the end zone.
9. The Falcons were better in the penalty area, but they committed six in the second half, which hurt their chances of maintaining the halftime lead. Center Alex Mack committed a clipping penalty on the Falcons first drive of the second half, which led to a punt. The Falcons allowed touchdown before and a field goal after that possession, pushing their deficit to two possessions.
10. In a game where a team allows nearly 600 yards, it doesn't seem fair to complain about field position, but that was an issue for Atlanta on Sunday as well. Falcons punter Matt Wile did a great job punting, but two of his kickoffs went out of bounds and provided the Texans great field position. On kickoff returns, the Falcons failed to reach the 20-yard line three times.
Atlanta's only great starting field position came after the Texans muffed a punt. Without the defense creating turnovers, it puts even more pressure on the offense to avoid penalties and execute on long drives to score points.