Everyone's already breaking down the Atlanta Falcons' final drive.
After a great catch from Julio Jones on fourth down to extend a potential game-winning drive, the Falcons couldn't find the end zone from 2 yards out. Ryan's pass to Jones on fourth-and-goal was incomplete, and the Philadelphia Eagles held on to win 15-10 to advance to the NFC Championship.
The season's end also meant the end of offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian's first season. Sarkisian was hired after Kyle Shanahan went to San Francisco to be their head coach.
Sark, as he's knows as by the Falcons players, received criticism throughout the season. Between not running the ball more, weird calls on fourth down and the decline of the offense from its 30-plus points per game performance last season, it's hard not to point the finger at him.
And after the Falcons attempted four straight pass plays at the end of the game instead of handing off to Tevin Coleman who had been strong, Dan Quinn and the Falcons certainly had to answer questions about Sarkisian when it was all said and done.
Yet almost all of them unanimously stated they had no problem with the calls.
"It’s one we thought in that opportunity and that moment, the two ones we went to Julio, we would have been able to dial up," Quinn said about the final plays. "As a former defensive coordinator, I recognize that’s a play people do deploy. We were looking for that opportunity, that match-up on that specific play. So that’s what thought was going to be the best play call for that time."
Jones said the play-call was intended to take advantage of the one-on-one match-up on defense. Jones ended up on the ground during his route and got back up. Ryan eventually found him, but the pass went right through his hands.
"At the end of the day, I can make those plays. I ended up on the ground when I came out of the route," Jones said, not faulting the official for not making any sort of call after making contact with Jalen Mills.
When asked about the play-calling down the stretch, the Falcons didn't say much. But maybe what they didn't say is more telling than what they did.
"I don’t remember. I was just locking in one play at a time," Jones said on the play-calling. "We just got to watch film. I can’t give you an answer why we didn’t succeed down there."
"Whatever’s best. Whatever coach call, we need to execute and make plays," running back Devonta Freeman said. "I played my part and played my role and gave as much energy and helped out the team as much as I could."
Only Mohamed Sanu and Matt Ryan flat-out said they liked the play-calling.
"I thought it was a good call," Ryan said. "We just fell a little bit short."
Quinn said he'll evaluate Sarkisian just like they evaluate all phases and coaches. But even after the controversy at the end, Quinn was complimentary of the first-year NFL coordinator.
"There’s a lot of thing that Sark has brought to our team that we really like," Quinn said. "It’s easy to place blame all on the one person. That’s a shared responsibility when we don’t achieve at the level that we would really like to. There are a lot of good things that we’ve done, and it was highlighted tonight that we didn’t get it done at the end of the game."
Jones admitted it took some time for Sarkisian to get to know the guys, and that he took too much flack.
"It was never just on Sark. Everybody’s always like, you got a new offensive coordinator, he need to do this, he need to do that. He doesn’t know. We all gotta be on the same page," Jones said."He’s very aggressive. Sark’s an aggressive guy. He’s going to call plays for you to try and get the ball in your hand. And he’s a great coach. He’s a very great coach."