The Falcons have an incredible ability to lose in the most spectacular fashion, raising the bar each year. It all began in 2012 when they blew a 17-point lead at home in the second half of the NFC Championship Game. Since the Falcons have continued to find ways to lose unlosable games, and they usually falter when they need a win the most.
I wrote an overreaction piece last week. It questioned whether or not Arthur Blank should do away with the entire staff. Now, it is looking more like a mainstream opinion piece. Many people are calling for Dan Quinn’s termination, and rightfully so. Here’s an excerpt from the piece last week that still holds true:
“The overreaction is that this team is still comprised of a potent offense and a newly found pass rush. The Falcons could get back on track just as easily with a convincing win in Dallas this Sunday. However, I believe that not enough has changed. Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff will experience their last year in Atlanta in a similar fashion as the previous two, 7-9.”
A couple of things are worth noting in this statement. Number one, this offense is fourth in the league in total points and yards. It is comprised of elite pieces that can carry a team to the playoffs as long as there is some semblance of supplementary help defensively, on special teams, and schematically. Number two, even if Atlanta won this game by recovering the onside kick, they would still finish the season 7-9 and miss the playoffs. In fact, I still believe the Falcons will finish 7-9. Whichever way the Falcons finish this season below .500, Arthur Blank will be forced to fire Dan Quinn if it does not come sooner.
Julio Jones had some choice words for the way the game unfolded late in the fourth, “We’re definitely a better finishing team than we showed today. It sucks to lose the way we did today. But we’re not going to let it define us.” However, this Dan Quinn led team is exactly that. They showed it three years ago in the Super Bowl, and they reaffirmed it Sunday.
Deion Jones weighed in, saying, “I feel like we’re on the right track. This is just growing pains we have to get through.” Unfortunately, growing pains do not last five years. Quinn has actually done some good though this year, showing potential head coaches that this team is talented enough to win now but just needs proper guidance.
Most Super Bowl contenders have a sense of situational awareness throughout the team. The best teams prepare for every possible situation that could occur. Belichick is notorious for making sure the Patriots are situationally perfect, and for the most part, they usually are. Numerous Falcon players and coaches said the onside kick team knew the rule but failed to attack the football. Even if there was no prior installation period in practice for attacking an onside kick, Quinn should have emphasized to do so in the huddle before the play.
Vince Lombardi said it best, “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” This Falcons team can compete for a spot in the playoffs, but with Dan Quinn, this team will never win a Super Bowl. Given everything that has transpired over the Matt Ryan era, winning the Super Bowl should be the only priority for Arthur Blank.
Whichever way he chooses to move on from Dan Quinn will be scrutinized, whether he should wait till the end of the year or not. If he holds onto him till the end of the season, he will have waited too long. If he fires him midseason, there will be those who believe no coach deserves to be fired in the middle of the year.
Regardless, these two weeks have shown the inept ability of this coaching staff to win. The main concern I have is that Blank will let Dan Quinn finish this season and potentially alter the psyche of young players. Winning is a mentality. Tom Brady has brought that to Tampa Bay, and it is lacking in Atlanta. If the young players are molded in a losing environment, they will form losing mindsets. I mentioned in last week’s article that Eric Bieniemy is my number one guy. This week, it looks like the perfect storm.