Which former Falcons HC will have most success with new team?

Who will have the most success between the two former Falcons head coaches, Arthur Smith or Dan Quinn?

Carolina Panthers v Atlanta Falcons
Carolina Panthers v Atlanta Falcons / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Over the past four years, the Atlanta Falcons have fired two head coaches—Dan Quinn in 2020 and Arthur Smith in 2024.

Within the past month, both of those coaches have been hired; Dan Quinn is the newest head coach of the Washington Commanders while Arthur Smith will be the offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Between those two coaches, who will find the most success with their new teams?

Which former Atlanta Falcons head coach will find the most success?

Who would have ever thought three years ago that Dan Quinn would be the head coach of the Washington Commanders while Arthur Smith would be the offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers going into the 2024 season?

Quinn had just been fired after his team sunk after the 2017 season, while Smith was supposed to be a steady offensive playcaller and head coach for the Falcons. Both head coaches did not work out in Atlanta.

Now, they will be looking to get their coaching careers back on track. Which one will find more success?

The case for Arthur Smith

Arthur Smith is taking over a talented Pittsburgh offense that underperformed last season. He has playmakers like George Pickens, Diontae Johnson, Jaylen Warren, and Najee Harris.

Smith also had a lot of success the last time he was an offensive coordinator. It isn't unreasonable to think that Smith can find success again now that he is focused on one side of the ball.

It also helps when you have Mike Tomlin overseeing you and the team.

The case against Arthur Smith

Arthur Smith's scheme with the Falcons—particularly the past two years—has been awful. Sure, he didn't have a solid quarterback outside of Matt Ryan in 2021, but he also did nothing to help his quarterbacks and it isn't like he has much of an upgrade in Pittsburgh.

There is also the idea that Smith does not know how to use his offensive weapons. One can argue that the Falcons had a more talented offense than the Steelers do and look where that got Smith.

There is the potential for a lot of fireworks in Pittsburgh this upcoming season—and not the good kind, the kind that happens on the sideline.

The case for Dan Quinn

Fans like to forget that Dan Quinn is one of only two head coaches to ever take the Atlanta Falcons to the Super Bowl and he did it with a team that was never supposed to make it very far.

Quinn did also lead one good defense in Atlanta (2017) which helped them reach the postseason after a Super Bowl that none of us will ever forget. In addition, he has a winning record in the playoffs.

Then when he took over as the Cowboys defensive coordinator, he immediately turned one of the worst defenses ever into a perennial force. Much of this was thanks to him reinventing himself after he was fired from the Falcons.

His new team has some solid pieces on both sides of the ball with the ability to add even more in the coming months. Washington is projected to have the most cap space and holds the second-overall pick. Dan Quinn has the resources to immediately improve his new team.

The case against Dan Quinn

Looking back on Dan Quinn's time as the Falcons head coach, there isn't much that pops out as being the sign of a good head coach—minus the simple fact of having two winning seasons. Quinn's defenses, for the most part, were bad in Atlanta—ranking 14th, 27th, 8th, 25th, and 23rd in points allowed per game in his five full seasons.

Quinn also had the help of Kyle Shanahan in 2016 and after he lost his offensive coordinator, the team never looked the same. Much thanks to bad coaching hires and decisions.

There is also a sour taste left by Dan Quinn in Dallas. His unit got gashed during their playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers. it was a weak performance that almost resulted in Quinn not being hired.

Dan Quinn will also have a lot more pressure than Arthur Smith. He is on his second head coaching job and if he doesn't succeed, he will not get another head coaching opportunity.

Washington has some big holes on defense after trading away two excellent players last season and they need to find a franchise quarterback, which is never an easy task.



Even though Arthur Smith might have the easier path to success, I believe that Dan Quinn will be the more successful coach. He has more capital to construct the team he wants, he knows how to coach a successful team, and he has had time to reinvent his scheme.

Ultimately though, I don't know how much confidence you can have in either guy.

Ironically, we could say that Raheem Morris is the "former" Falcons head coach who will have the most success.

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