Coming off back-to-back 7-9 campaigns, Dan Quinn entered the 2020 NFL season firmly on the hot seat. But after getting blown out by the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1 and collapsing in historical fashion against the Dallas Cowboys, Quinn just hammered the final nail in his coffin on Sunday. Now, it’s time for the Atlanta Falcons to hit the reset button and find a new head coach who can get his team to play all 60 minutes.
Dan Quinn oversaw the worst collapse in Super Bowl history
In just his second season as an NFL head coach, Dan Quinn led his team to a Super Bowl berth. Facing Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, Atlanta shockingly jumping out to a commanding 28-3 lead. Bill Belichick’s squad appeared all but finished, and Quinn seemed to be on his way to securing a Super Bowl title by defeating Brady and Belichick.
Falcons fans need little reminder of what happened next.
Despite holding a 25-point lead, Atlanta refused to run the ball. A Dont’a Hightower strip-sack set up a touchdown drive that ended with a 6-yard strike to Danny Amendola. On the ensuing possession, Ryan lost 12 yards on a sack by Trey Flowers. A holding penalty by Jake Matthews wiped out a 9-yard catch by Mohamed Sanu and forced the Falcons to punt.
New England promptly drove 91 yards for a touchdown before Brady hit Amendola for the game-tying two-point conversion. In overtime, James White plunged over the goal line for the game-winning TD.
For Quinn, the historic collapse erased what should have been a joyous night. Yet, the Falcons failed to maintain their lead due in large part to questionable coaching decisions.
The Falcons got shredded in Week 1 before blowing a huge lead to the Cowboys in Week 2
Though Dan Quinn led the Falcons back to the playoffs in 2017, Atlanta has not qualified for the postseason since then. That put tremendous pressure on the 50-year-old head coach to ensure the Falcons won’t watch the playoffs from home for the third straight year.
However, Quinn and the Falcons could not have gotten off to a worse start. In Week 1, Russell Wilson torched his team’s former defensive coordinator. Seattle’s star quarterback completed 31-of-35 attempts for 322 yards and four touchdowns in the Seahawks’ 38-25 win. Quinn’s defense looked thoroughly overmatched in the season-opening defeat.
In Week 2, Atlanta traveled to Dallas to take on Dak Prescott and the Cowboys. The first half went better than Quinn could have ever dreamt. The Falcons held a 29-10 lead at halftime, which seemingly should have been enough to ensure they wouldn’t start the season 0-2.
Yet, despite improbable odds, the Cowboys staged a similar comeback against Quinn’s team as the Patriots did in Super Bowl 51. With just eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Falcons possessed a 39-24 lead. That quickly disappeared, as Prescott led the Cowboys on three straight scoring drives that culminated in a game-winning field goal by Greg Zuerlein.
Quinn just hammered the final nail in his coffin
As the unofficial king of fourth-quarter collapses, Dan Quinn just hammered the final nail in his coffin on Sunday. Once again, the Falcons’ offense put the team in a position to win. And yet, Quinn’s defense completely fell apart in the second half.
Atlanta somehow surrendered a 16-point fourth-quarter lead to Nick Foles, who did not even start the game for Chicago. The Falcons had no answer for the former Super Bowl MVP, who led his team on three touchdown drives to give the Bears a 30-26 victory.
For Quinn, the embarrassing collapse should be the final nail in his coffin. At this point, his track record of surrendering fourth-quarter leaves can no longer be excused. He already blew his opportunity at winning a Super Bowl ring a few years ago. After returning to the playoffs in 2017, the Falcons have posted a losing record in back-to-back seasons. Blowing two multiple-possession leads in the fourth quarter to start the year should signal that the time has come for the Falcons to move in a new direction.
At 0-3, Atlanta stands very little chance of making the playoffs, especially with the Buccaneers and Saints in their division.
Ultimately, Dan Quinn has proven he does not have what it takes to turn the Falcons into a Super Bowl champion.
At least, not for a full 60 minutes.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.