FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — The Atlanta Falcons looked as if they had all the answers while winning their first five games under coach Dan Quinn.
The past four games have provided a painful reality check — especially on offense.
The Falcons bye week follows their four lowest-scoring games of the season. That's a troubling trend, especially since the team is 1-3 in that span.
Including last week's 17-16 loss at San Francisco, Atlanta has averaged only 16.75 points in the past four games. Even the only win since the 5-0 start was an offensive snoozer — a 10-7 decision at Tennessee on Oct. 25.
Thanks to the strong start, the Falcons (6-3) can remain in the wild-card race if they can make corrections on offense.
Wide receiver Julio Jones and breakout running back Devonta Freeman are putting up big numbers, but too often the offense has stalled in the red zone.
The latest example came with the game on the line and the Falcons trailing the 49ers by four points. The Falcons had a fourth down at the 49ers 1 when Quinn took his offense off the field to have Matt Bryant kick a field goal.
Quinn was counting on his defense to make a stop, but the plan failed.
The coach insisted his decision did not reflect a lack of confidence in the offense. Even so, quarterback Matt Ryan and the offense forced the decision by failing to reach the end zone before the fourth down.
"I think anytime you don't play up to your standards, we're all going to evaluate what we need to do differently," Ryan said, adding he believed offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan "called a good game."
"From a player's perspective, we've got to make it work and that's always the mindset that I have," Ryan said. "I don't think from a player's perspective we did enough to get it done."
Entering Week 10, Jones led the NFL with 80 catches — 11 more than Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown in second place — and 1,029 yards. Freeman, a dual threat, leads the league in total yards from scrimmage.
The obvious question: How can an offense fall into a scoring slump with two of the league's most productive players?
Right tackle Ryan Schraeder suggested the offense was too predictable against the 49ers. Jones and wide receiver Roddy White said the Falcons need to pick up their pace.
"We just have to play faster," Jones said. "We are doing all of the right things, we just have to play a little faster as far as getting in and out of the huddle."
Added White: "We have to up-tempo the ball. Get up to the line of scrimmage, run plays and not let the defense dictate what we do on offense, but we dictate what they do on defense."
Ryan, Jones and White met after the 49ers game to discuss the offense. Quinn said the meeting was no cause for alarm.
"Those guys are really close, so for those guys to have a summit meeting, that would be every week," Quinn said.
Quinn said he supported team leaders meeting as a group.
"One of the best parts of this team is guys are willing to go for it as hard as they can to get it right," Quinn said, describing the attitude as "chip-on-your-shoulder competitors. ... So I love they have that, I really do."
White, who holds most of the franchise's career receiving records, has been an afterthought this season. He is fifth on the team with 17 catches, trailing Jones, Freeman, tight end Jacob Tamme and Leonard Hankerson. Against San Francisco, White had only two targets and one catch for 20 yards.
White, 34, met with Quinn to discuss his role last month. He came out of the meeting upbeat, but there has been no change in his role — even when Hankerson missed the past two games with a hamstring injury.
Quinn said he'll take another look at White's role in the bye week.
"I think when we go through this week we'll look at all the things," Quinn said. "Do we feature different players in different roles? For sure Roddy is one of those that we'll talk about."
The Falcons will return from the break with back-to-back home games against Indianapolis and Minnesota. Quinn gave his players the full week off for rest and recovery while he looked for ways to end the slump.
"All the little things we can do to find areas to improve, that's absolutely the challenge," Quinn said. "It's not just offensively, it's defensively. We're going to go find that and attack every single spot that we can. That's our mindset and that's what we're going to do."