Sunday: Noon at U.S. Bank Stadium (Ch. 9, 100.3-FM, 1130-AM)
ABOUT THE FALCONS
• After a 23-16 home loss to the Panthers last Sunday, the Falcons (0-5) fired head coach Dan Quinn and General Manager Thomas Dimitroff, who were in their sixth season together. Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris was named interim head coach.
• After four straight years as an above-average offense, the middling Falcons rank 11th in yards and 20th in points through five games since adding running back Todd Gurley and tight end Hayden Hurst this offseason. Atlanta has scored just 16 points in each of the past two losses.
• Part of the Falcons’ problem has been All-Pro receiver Julio Jones’ lingering hamstring injury, which first occurred in training camp and was aggravated in Week 2. But Jones is set to return against the Vikings.He has no injury designation after being a limited participant in practices this week.
• The Falcons defense is allowing 32.2 points per game (tied for 30th), although Grady Jarrett remains among the NFL’s top interior defenders with 16 quarterback pressures this season, ranking sixth among defensive tackles, according to Pro Football Focus.
Player Spotlight | QB Matt Ryan
• Ryan, the 2016 NFL MVP, is in a slump and hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in the past 11 quarters. He’s throwing a lot, but he hasn’t topped 300 yards since the season opener while averaging 40.8 throws per game.
• Ryan can strike quickly with a talented cast of receivers that includes Calvin Ridley, the NFL’s long-ball leader. Nobody has more catches for at least 20 yards than Ridley’s 10, and only Arizona’s DeAndre Hopkins has moved the chains more than Ridley’s 25 first downs (on 29 catches).
• Morris on Ryan: “We haven’t played well enough to win football games and Matt, supplementally, hasn’t gotten the football in the end zone enough for our offense. We got to get better. Matt Ryan is one of the best preparation guys I know. I got a lot of confidence in him.”
• Vikings coach Mike Zimmer on Ryan: “Matt is a guy who is tough to fool. He’s tough to trick. He’s seen all of the different things, and he actually moves well in the pocket for a 35-year-old guy. He moves well, and he’s got great arm strength, so it’s going to be a great test for us defensively to handle all these weapons that they have.”
COACH SPEAK Raheem Morris
• A Falcons assistant since 2015, Morris was 17-31 as Tampa Bay’s head coach from 2009 to 2011.
• Morris’ task of reversing the Falcons’ season was interrupted this week by the NFL closing Atlanta’s facilities Thursday because of a second confirmed positive COVID-19 case. The Falcons received all negative tests Friday morning and reopened their Flowery Branch, Ga., headquarters.
• Morris on losing a day of practice while stepping in as interim head coach: “Anything you say beyond, ‘It’s a product of our world right now’ is an excuse. And really, in my opinion, it’s just what we got to deal with and what we’re all going to deal with as coaches, players, as a National Football League in general.”
• Morris on the Falcons defense blowing big fourth-quarter leads to Dallas and Chicago: “Every game is its own entity and you can’t go out and ride the emotional roller coaster. In those games, we kind of rode it a little bit. We had very good highs and we had the ultimate lows. We have to find a way to stick right there in the middle and finish those games off the right way.”