PHILADELPHIA -- The Atlanta Falcons continue to stand behind first-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian despite the offensive issues that eventually led to the team's demise.
The Falcons scored just one touchdown in Saturday's 15-10 divisional playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. It marked the seventh time the Falcons failed to score 20 points this season, and they went 0-7 in those games. The Falcons, who led the league at 33.8 points per a game a year ago en route to the Super Bowl, finished the 2017 season averaging just 22.1 points per game.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn expressed support for Sarkisian despite the obvious offensive problems.
"I recognize that goes with the job, and so does Sark," Quinn said of the criticism. "Like all things, we assess it all the way through. How can we do things better? There are a lot of things that Sark has brought to our team that we really like.
"I can take a long time to go through different spots, so it's easy to place blame all onto one person, and that's a shared responsibility when we don't achieve at the level that we would like to. There are a lot of really good things that we've done, and it was highlighted certainly [Saturday night] where we didn't get the job done at the end of the game."
The Falcons could have pulled out a victory in Philadelphia but Matt Ryan couldn't roll out and connect with Julio Jones on a fourth-and-goal play from the Eagles' 2-yard line with 54 seconds remaining.
Eagles safety Rodney McLeod knew what play was coming after remembering it from the week's preparations.
"As soon as I saw the tight end come over [in motion], I was like, 'There it is,'" McLeod said. "This is everything you dream of as a player, you do your studying, you do your preparing, and they come out and run the identical play. And the guys did a good job of stopping it, man."
They faced first-and-goal from the 9 with 1:19 remaining and two timeouts left. However, four consecutive pass plays didn't work against the Eagles' defense. The Falcons didn't make a rushing attempt despite the fact that Tevin Coleman ran the ball effectively throughout the game, averaging 7.9 yards per carry.
Quinn was asked about not running the ball from the 9-yard line. He said the team discussed the possibility. Not much was said about the shovel pass attempted during the same drive.
Jones, who backed Sarkisian all season, had no problem with the late-game playcalling.
"I feel like everything went well," Jones said. "It's up to us to make them come to life, we're all in this together -- whatever is called down, it's up to us to execute and make it come to life."
"I love Sark," Freeman said. "I love what he stands for as a human. I love how aggressive he is as a coach. I wouldn't want to do it with nobody else. He's one of the best guys I've been around."
Quinn said there was "zero chance" of Sarkisian leaving Atlanta to rejoin Pete Carroll and become the offensive coordinator in Seattle, as was speculated last week. The Seahawks are on the verge of hiring Brian Schottenheimer for that position, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Jones assessed the first season playing under Sarkisian and the mindset moving into next season, with the expectation that Sarkisian will be around.
"It was great," Jones said. "It was Sark's first year here with us and it was a great experience. We just have to keep building off of it at the end of the day. Him learning us and us learning him, what we need to look for and taking advantage of opportunities.
"Everybody was saying all year, 'Oh, he is a new coordinator, he has to do this, he has to do that.' It is on all of us at the end of the day, it is not just on him. We all have to be on the same page. We are family here, we are going to fight for each other, we are going to play for each other at the end of the day, that is what we have to do."