After a 22-19 heartbreaking loss vs. the Dallas Cowboys, overreactions about the Atlanta Falcons are plentiful.
“Fire Dan Quinn!”; “Fire Sarkisian!”; “Cut Matt Ryan!”; “Trade Freeman!”; “Blow up the defense.”; “Fire Dimitroff.”; “Cut Campbell.”; “Trufant and Alford have always been bad.”; “Fire somebody!” Overreactions are a fixture in sports but with the Atlanta Falcons, it has gotten out of hand.
The Falcons are 4-6, out of the playoff race barring a Packers-like 2016 miracle, and have been overall disappointing. Thankfully, every Falcons fan knows that 4-6 isn’t our record if we’re moderately healthy but that doesn’t stop the hot takes. Of course, the Cut/trade/fire Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman, Thomas Dimitroff, Campbell, and the entire defense takes are absolutely ludicrous. Fire Sarkisian isn’t as crazy as those and I certainly don’t like Sarkisian but he should absolutely stay. While not the craziest overreaction, the most popular one is “Fire Dan Quinn”. It’s not a good one.
Dan Quinn’s game management is very easily the worst aspect of his coaching. I have previously written an article on it and unfortunately, it hasn’t changed. Whether it be calling timeouts at weird times (or not calling them at all) or settling for field goals, Dan Quinn has had his troubles with game management. The worst of it though is prevent defense. As the old adage goes, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” That applies to Dan Quinn and his prevent defense.
It’s no coincidence that the Falcons have 4 blown leads of over 14 points in the 3 3/4 seasons Quinn has been here. The Falcons have only had 15 leads of over 14 points slip away since 2000 and 4 of them were under Dan Quinn. Whenever the Falcons have a lead or are tied (like today), the Falcons play a soft zone giving 7-10 yards of cushion against the wide receivers and only rushing 3 or 4. Continuing to run soft zone/prevent defense is setting this team up to fail. You would think Quinn would’ve learned his lesson after blowing the lead in the game we don’t talk about, but he hasn’t.
“The Brotherhood” has been preached by Dan Quinn for years and it’s evident what it’s done for this team. Lots of people love when a coach is a player’s coach. Someone who is seen as more of a friend with the players than a coach. While it sounds great in theory, it can go downhill quickly. That’s evident based on the Steelers and Mike Tomlin. He is a true player’s coach who has pretty much allowed a free locker room. That’s allowed egos to flourish and selfish attitudes to manifest.
Thankfully, the closest we’ve come to the Falcon’s egos getting in the way was Julio Jones saying he was going to miss training camp. It was a perfectly justified holdout and had no effect on the Falcons. That comes from Quinn. There aren’t any players on the Falcons with egos or selfish attitudes. Sure, there are some eccentric players like Takk McKinley, Calvin Ridley, and Mohamed Sanu, but none have caused harm to their team because of that. Quinn’s team mantras may sound stupid to fans when we lose but they are a huge help to this team.
Obviously, Dan Quinn’s best skill is talent evaluation. Since 2015, Dan Quinn has had 25 draft picks and 21 are still with the Falcons including 4 pro bowlers out of the possible 19. The 4 players not on the Falcons anymore are Jalen Collins, Devin Fuller, Akeem King, and Jake Rodgers. All, bar Collins, were 7th round picks. Dimitroff drafted well before Dan Quinn came but Quinn has taken it to another level. The picks aren’t glamorous, like taking Keanu Neal in the 1st round against all projections and scouts, but they have been tremendous and have worked extremely well.
When a team loses, there are a bunch of tweets/posts/takes that suggest firing someone. Some outrageous posts and tweets today have suggested promoting Sarkisian to head coach and even “Seasons over. Can we just fire someone please?”. While outrageous, there are a lot of people who think this but offer up no alternative. As of right now, a majority of our players are in their prime and/or approaching their retirement. Most coaches take a year or two to institute their philosophy and schemes so replacing Quinn would lead to wasting a lot of the primes of our players.
Not only is there a long turnaround but there aren’t really a plethora of good head coaching candidates that can win a Super Bowl with this team. Some candidates are good for teams like the Browns or Jets but not for the Falcons because the Falcons, barring injury catastrophes next year, are in win-now mode.
The Falcons should absolutely not fire Dan Quinn and whoever suggests it has unrealistic expectations of what a change in coaching can do. It’s akin to Georgia Tech fans wanting Paul Johnson gone despite not understanding the full ramifications of it. Dan Quinn’s Falcons went to a Super Bowl his second year, have never had a losing season, and even in years with horrific injury luck have remained competitive all year. It would be a colossal mistake to let go of Dan Quinn before next year.