Originally created 11/29/06

Falcons may face big changes



ATLANTA - After watching the Atlanta Falcons lose their fourth consecutive game, owner Arthur Blank grabbed a front-row seat in the interview room to listen in on what Jim Mora and Michael Vick had to say.

Blank also pored over a stat sheet, whispering some thoughts to his top lieutenant while trying to figure out how another season that began with such promise has totally unraveled heading into the final month.

This owner demands immediate results. If things don't turn around over the next five weeks, the Falcons are certainly headed for big changes - starting with several members of Mora's staff and maybe extending all the way to the head coach himself.

"Ever since I've been here, we've had high expectations," Blank said. "We did not build this team to be .500. We thought this team was capable of making a playoff run. Anytime you fall short of that, it's disappointing."

Technically, Atlanta (5-6) still has time to turns things around in the mediocre NFC, where 6-5 would be good enough for the wild card if the season ended today.

But after going 0-for-November, the Falcons are below .500 for the first time in Mora's three-year tenure and giving off few signs of being a team that can pull out of its slide before it's too late.

Three of the losses during past month were by double-figure margins - the only exception being an inexcusable 17-13 home loss to woeful Cleveland (3-8). The Falcons were blown out 30-14 at Detroit, one of only two games the Lions have won this season.

Last Sunday, Atlanta was all but eliminated from the NFC West race by a 31-13 loss to the Saints, who essentially have a three-game lead on the Falcons when the tiebreaker is factored in.