Should the Atlanta Falcons coaching staff have 2020 immunity?

TAMPA, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 29: Head coach Dan Quinn of the Atlanta Falcons reacts against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half at Raymond James Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 29: Head coach Dan Quinn of the Atlanta Falcons reacts against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half at Raymond James Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Falcons were a Nelson Agholor catch away from starting off the season at 0-8 in 2019.

Had the Atlanta Falcons lost the Week 2 matchup that Sunday night, it’s doubtful that Arthur Blank would’ve allowed Dan Quinn to continue. With back to back very disappointing seasons, fans are more than ready to see a change in leadership within this organization.

Thus, had this been any normal off-season, anything less than a playoff appearance would’ve cut short Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff’s time in Atlanta.

Nonetheless, as 2020 is just weeks away from kick-off, the Atlanta Falcons have their sights set on season football; something that has been absent in Atlanta for the past two seasons. However, with the unstable dynamic that 2020 has presented us, this football season will be unlike any other season before it, so should we treat the outcome any differently?

To preface this, if the entire NFL season goes off without a hitch, regarding social injustice/COVID-19, and the Atlanta Falcons fail to make the postseason or have an incredibly poor start once again, then yes, change is needed.

That much is abundantly clear, but what isn’t clear is what the future has in store and this year alone has shown us just how quickly things can unravel. So to say with certainty that there won’t be any COVID issues or social injustice distractions is ungrounded.

This isn’t to take anything away from the protocols that the NFL has set in place. Despite the hesitant belief that the NFL would handle the virus correctly, they have in fact done a great job, and currently, only one NFL player is listed on the COVID-19 reserve list.

Again, however, this is training camp numbers and most teams have found ways to keep players in a “bubble” to limit their off-field risks of contracting the virus. Even the Atlanta Falcons have rented out townhomes that sit next to the facility in Flowery Branch. Each player is given their own place to limit exposure and to become more comfortable with playing during the pandemic.

The real concern lies at the end of training camp where these players, who chose to stay in team hotels or authorized areas, return home and must fight the urge to become complacent. Complacency is a dangerous thing because one player alone can bring down the entire operation and progress that the NFL has made.

Coupled with false positives and the shock it gave the NFL last weekend, testing close to game days will be of much importance and concern now. Because I don’t truly think it was before, or at least not to the extent it should’ve been. But COVID and false positives aren’t the only issues that is progressing.

"“So much has happened over the last 15 hours from when we left walk-through and into today. It goes to show again that sports can have a meaningful role in our country and the power in unity. To me, we are definitely in a movement, and for us I think this is a chance for us to listen and (create) space to do that as a team. I look forward to doing that.”"

That’s what Dan Quinn had to say regarding the recent protests made by teams in the wake of the Milwaukee Bucks refusing to play their game five matchups against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night. Quinn’s own remarks show just how ever-changing our society has become.

There is absolutely no reason not to believe that these demonstrations will carry out as the year progresses along. At the event of another unfortunate tragedy, it is a mear guarantee that the NFL will see games postponed due to players protesting.

The NBA has set a precedent that leagues will continue to follow and until a change occurs, the social injustice crisis isn’t going away and has the ability to distract players from their performance on Sundays.

Steven Means, defensive end and member of the committee created in the wake of the Colin Kaepernick protest in 2017, spoke to the media about Dan Quinn and how open he is for players to have conversations.

"“Our head coach continues to give us the forum to be able to bring these things to the forefront of the team. For you to cancel certain things that you’ve got in your schedule, coaches hold the time they have as precious. So, if you’ve got a coach that’s willing to cancel a meeting or tell you, ‘Don’t worry about this day, we’re going to take this day and worry about this.’ Or he’s going to give us the opportunity to be able to take away moments from his schedule, that’s big. I don’t know if people realize that, but we have that here.”"

As 2020 is an election year, the Atlanta Falcons have made it a priority to bring about voter awareness with their “Rise Up and Vote” initiative. In the 2016 election, 60 percent of the country’s eligible voters actually voted.

The Atlanta Falcons hope to raise this number in 2020.

To bring this back to football, I ask the question of should the coaching staff have some sort of immunity in 2020. Every team has been dealt with the same hand, however, some have it better than others.

What if the Atlanta Falcons make it into the playoffs as the 7th seed, or any low seed, and are bounced in the first round?

What if the Falcons are sitting at a losing record if there is any sort of stoppage of play for any reason, outbreak, or protests?

There just seems to be a growing precedent that the wins and losses off the field will be just as important as the wins and losses on the field, and off the field, distractions can hinder performance.

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The answer to this question lies somewhere in the middle and is about as clear cut as muddy water in the Chattahoochee River.