Just four years ago, Dan Quinn came agonizingly close to winning a Super Bowl title. Now, he is in search of a new job.
After watching their head coach get off to an 0-5 start that included more embarrassing fourth-quarter collapses, the Atlanta Falcons just admitted they made a massive mistake in keeping Quinn around so long. Just don’t be surprised if more drastic changes occur, including the franchise possibly moving on from one of its biggest stars.
Atlanta refused to fire Dan Quinn despite numerous failures
It did not take Dan Quinn long to find success as an NFL head coach. In just his second season on the job, he led the Falcons to a Super Bowl berth. Of course, his only Super Bowl appearance will go down in NFL history for all the wrong reasons.
Quinn’s team squandered a 25-point lead to the New England Patriots, who staged a furious comeback to win their fifth title. Naturally, the Falcons head coach came under fire for his team’s inability to protect a seemingly insurmountable lead in the biggest game of his life.
Though Atlanta returned to the playoffs the following year, Quinn’s team missed the postseason in 2018. Defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel got fired after the Falcons finished 25th in points allowed.
Last season, Atlanta missed the playoffs again after going 7-9 for the second straight season. Still, Arthur Blank refused to fire Quinn despite another disappointing campaign.
That decision has proven to be an abject failure given the Falcons’ horrific start to the 2020 season. Even after blowing huge fourth-quarter leads in back-to-back weeks, Atlanta kept Quinn employed. A Week 4 loss to the Green Bay Packers still didn’t change his job status.
The Falcons just admitted they made a massive mistake
Ultimately, the Falcons had no choice but to admit they made a massive mistake in keeping Dan Quinn around. Following the team’s 23-16 loss to the Carolina Panthers, Blank finally fired the 50-year-old head coach. Atlanta also cut ties with Thomas Dimitroff, the team’s GM since 2008.
Given their 0-5 start, the Falcons simply couldn’t keep Quinn employed any longer. However, the franchise deserves some criticism for waiting so long to admit they made a mistake.
Quinn’s horrific game-management decisions have led to some of the most embarrassing fourth-quarter collapses in league history. It should have been evident that the team needed to move in a new direction well before Week 5 of the 2020 season.
Plus, Falcons fans should be upset that the team wasted the prime years of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. The two franchise icons have put together brilliant individual careers and could end up in Canton one day.
However, the 35-year-old Ryan and 31-year-old Jones have yet to taste championship glory. In fact, the duo hasn’t appeared in a playoff game since January 2018, when Quinn’s defense allowed Nick Foles to complete 23-of-30 passes in a 15-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
By finally cutting ties with Quinn, Atlanta at least acknowledged it made a mistake. But could the franchise move on from some more familiar faces?
Is it time to hit the reset button in Atlanta?
Raheem Morris may be the Falcons’ interim head coach, but the franchise could get a total facelift this offseason. Considering Ryan’s age, it would make sense for Atlanta to find its next franchise quarterback in the 2021 NFL draft. Though the veteran carries a hefty dead-cap charge in 2021, the team could cut ties after next season if it is willing to absorb a $26.5 million hit.
If the Falcons’ struggles continue, they very well could end up with the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft. That would put them in an excellent position to land Ryan’s successor.
Atlanta could build around a talented prospect such as Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, or Kyle Trask. Of course, with Ryan still on the roster, the Falcons could let their new quarterback sit for a year and learn the ropes from the four-time Pro Bowler.
At the end of the day, though, those decisions will have to be made by whoever Blank entrusts to run his team. Atlanta needs to find a head coach-GM combo with a clear-cut plan on how to turn around a franchise that looked like a potential perennial Super Bowl contender just a few years ago.
Hopefully, for Falcons fans’ sake, Blank’s next hire turns out better than his last one.