Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and head coach Dan Quinn may like winning, if it happens, but losing is just fine by them.
Dan Quinn doesn’t mind losing was evident from his rookie campaign in 2015, when the Falcons roared off a 5-0 start, only to see Quinn wander the sideline, grin his meathead grin, and scratch his backside as the team fell out of playoff contention and limped home with an 8-8 record.
Nothing to sweat out, according to Quinn. No sense of urgency about chances blown. It was an opportunity to fix things.
The next year, piggybacking a historic offensive performance engineered by Kyle Shanahan, the Falcons went to the Super Bowl, only to see Quinn stand slack-jawed and bug-eyed as his team blew a 28-3 third-quarter lead and lost.
Quinn didn’t seem too disturbed, They got there, right?
Shanahan left, and Quinn gave the reins to his explosive offense to his new bro, Steve Sarkisian, a man who would rather hoist a forty than a Championship trophy, a decade removed from his last OC gig and a total noob at NFL play-calling.
A late season-surge led to a playoff berth, but Quinn never once recognized his new coordinator’s incompetence in building a coherent game plan. The sleek offense sputtered, and winnable games were lost, Quinn never once making a move to right the ship.
To Quinn, Sarkisian’s on-the-job training was more important than winning ballgames. so much that he kept him on for the next year.
By game five of 2018, it was clear something was wrong. A rash of defensive injuries put weight on the offense Sarkisian simply could not shoulder. They staggered as their desperate offensive coordinator threw stuff against the wall, only to see it slide down and plop to the floor.
Quinn did nothing to stem the tide of losing, and the Falcons limped to a 7-9.
When Sarkisian left to join fellow NFL washout Nick Saban at the University of Alabama, Quinn recycled Dirk Koetter and took over the defensive play-calling himself.
This year, we saw a tepid defense and an uninspired team open the year at 1-7, with no effort from Quinn to change anything until the bye-week when they were already out of realistic playoff contention.
Dan Quinn doesn’t care about winning football games. Period. In the pre-season, he loses and says those games don’t matter. At the first of the season, he says they’re working things out for the stretch run, so losing is an acceptable trade-off. At the end of the season, they lose and he says that doesn’t matter because his brotherhood is building for the future.
“Just win, baby.”
“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”
Dan Quinn never understood these things, nor does he care. He is a football coach with a loser’s mentality. Period.
Plus, he doesn’t really do anything well. He’s a horrible game manager. His teams are flat and lifeless more often than not, and undisciplined to boot. He can’t run defense, his supposed strong point, or hire a coaching staff. He won’t hold that staff or his team accountable.
So what does Arthur Blank do? He gives him the keys to the car for another season because his players love him (that they do so because he doesn’t hold them accountable is a fact lost on Artie) and they had a late-season surge by sneaking up on a few complacent teams. So he’s basically bringing back Quinn as a sideline figurehead and designated fist-pumper.
Oh, and continuity, because the great organizations have that.
What Blank doesn’t get is that winning breeds continuity, not vice versa, and keeping a coach with a losing mentality is a commitment to accept mediocrity.
And he’s fine with that.