FLOWERY BRANCH — Atlanta coach Mike Smith painstakingly went over every possession the Falcons had in their latest loss, pointing out each little mistake, each little miscue.
They sure added up quickly.
If things don't turn around soon, the Falcons might just dig a hole they can't escape.
Atlanta (2-3) is already being lumped with Philadelphia and the New York Jets, two other teams that came into the season with soaring expectations but have been major disappointments. The latest loss was exposed just how large the gap is between a legitimate title contender and a Falcons team that has taken a big step backward since last season.
Already, they have lost as many regular-season games as all of 2010 heading into Sunday's contest against Carolina.
Now, it's time for some serious self-reflection.
"You have to take a good hard look at yourself," Smith said Monday on a gray, rainy afternoon that matched the mood at the Falcons' suburban training complex. "It starts with me, it starts with the coaches, it starts with the players. We can only fix this working together. It's not going to be just one person. We've got to make sure we find ways to win football games instead of finding ways not to win football games."
Atlanta got off to a blistering start against Green Bay, scoring on its first two possessions for a quick 14-0 lead.
After that, the Falcons looked like an entirely different team, managing just 106 yards on their final eight possessions.
As for the other three times Atlanta had the ball, one ended with Ryan taking a knee at the end of the first half, another resulted in Ryan's second interception when the Falcons were in desperation mode at the end. There was, in Smith's assessment, only one "true three-and-out."
"After the first two drives," Smith said, "we basically had situations where we self-destructed."
What made it even tougher to take was the way Atlanta looked in the beginning. Those first two possessions were things of beauty, showing off all the weapons the Falcons figured to unleash this season after adding first-round pick Julio Jones to an offense that already included Pro Bowlers Ryan, Gonzalez, Roddy White and Michael Turner.
"The first two drives were very good drives," Smith said. "That makes the rest of it look and feel really bad."