Dan Reeves is switching to a quarterback who hasn’t started this season.
Too bad it won’t be Michael Vick.
After Atlanta suffered one of the worst losses in team history, Reeves is giving Kurt Kittner his first career start as the Falcons try to snap a five-game losing streak in a matchup with the New Orleans Saints.
Kittner, a second-year player from Illinois, will replace Doug Johnson as the starting quarterback.
“You have to make some tough decisions,” Reeves said. “We’ve been struggling for five weeks, and I just feel like we need to make a change. I told Doug I feel badly. Everybody on offense should, because he’s the one who gets the blame for it.”
Johnson, who stepped in as the starter when Pro Bowler Vick broke his right leg in a preseason game, leads the NFL with 10 interceptions.
Vick did some light running while his teammates practiced, but he’s still weeks away from returning. The earliest he could play would be Nov. 2 against Philadelphia, after a bye week.
Atlanta lost 36-0 to the St. Louis Rams on Monday night. It was the first time the Falcons had been shut out in 10 years.
Reeves said each position will be evaluated and there might be lineup changes.
“We have to get something going somewhere to win and what gives us the best chance to win a football game,” Reeves said. “We have to look at everything.”
As bad as the offense was against the Rams, gaining only 38 yards in the second half and surrendering the third safety in two games, the defense may have been worse.
Marc Bulger threw for 352 yards and two touchdowns as the Falcons, last in the NFL in total defense, yielded 496 yards.
Injuries, mainly at linebacker, have devastated the defense. Will Overstreet is out for the season after shoulder surgery earlier this month to repair a torn ligament, and Sam Rogers has missed the past three games with a bruised knee. He’ll have surgery Wednesday to see how much damage he has.
Without those players, Reeves is contemplating changing defenses, moving from a 3-4 to the more conventional 4-3.
New Orleans snapped a three-game losing streak with a 20-13 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
It wasn’t the most impressive of wins—the Bears are 1-3, with the worst offense in the NFL and an inexperienced defense. Instead of their normal Monday off after a win, though, the Saints players decided they would spend that day going over film.
“They know that we’re 2-4, we’re not 4-2,” Saints coach Jim Haslett said. “We’re not where we want to be yet. I like the stance that they are taking. It’s a positive stance. They wanted to come in and work and get better.”
Haslett was pleased with the victory after watching the game film. The running game was good, as Deuce McAllister gained 116 yards on 29 carries, despite the Bears concentrating on keeping him in check.
The defense did its share, holding the Bears to 271 total yards and giving up just one touchdown for the second week in a row. It also forced two turnovers, which the offense turned into 10 points, and sacked Kordell Stewart three times.
After enduring an early rash of injuries that depleted their starting defense, the Saints exited Sunday’s victory in relatively good health for the second consecutive week.
Return specialist Michael Lewis, who has missed the past two games with an injured groin, may play Sunday.