Dan Quinn’s job security has been the hottest topic among Falcons fans since about Week 5. Who can blame us? What else do suffering fanbases have to talk about at the barbershop other than firing coaches and potential top ten draft picks?
Speaking of draft picks, the Falcons selection keeps going up as they put together back-to-back wins for the second time in a six-game stretch. The defense has turned the corner, looking more like their 2017 selves – fast and physical – leading Atlanta to wins on the road over the top two teams in the NFC. For a group that didn’t seem to give a damn about their head coach ten weeks ago (judging by their play on the field), they have provided an undeniably inspiring effort since their bye week six weeks ago.
If you ask the players, they’ll say they are playing for the man calling the shots. Quinn has their respect and their attention, but you have to wonder where the hell this was to begin the season when the Falcons were dropping games to the Titans, Colts, and Cardinals.
Were the players that unaware this was viewed by most as a make it or break it season for their head coach? Possibly, and it’s not their job to pay attention to that stuff. After all, nearly every football coach from high school to the pros tells their players to “block out the noise.” They shouldn’t be caring about whether or not their coach is on the hot seat. That shouldn’t be what motivates them to pay attention to the fine details and play hard on every given Sunday. That is the job of a coach – a job Dan Quinn has failed at over the last two years until it was far too late.
From the opening series of the season, the Falcons have been a discombobulated mess. Remember, the series that started with Matt Ryan getting crushed and ended with a blocked punt. Since; it’s been an endless cycle of foolish penalties and missed assignments until the players had heard enough questions from the media to where it was impossible to ignore their head coach was sitting on a throne of flames. This ultra-talented roster started 1-7, and they were eliminated from the playoffs by Thanksgiving.
There is a case to be made for Dan Quinn to keep his job for at least one more season. The Falcons two first-round selections dealt with immediate injuries. Following Quinn’s delegation of the defensive playcalling, the unit began to achieve the level of play we expected to start the season. Dirk Koetter’s stale offense can easily be replaced and improved upon. The players are clearly fond of Quinn, and after all, this team did beat the 49ers and Saints on the road in the last two weeks. Might they be playing the best ball in the NFC right now? Can Quinn carry this momentum into 2020?
My answer to that is we should not find out. Hot and cold streaks have been a staple of the Dan Quinn coaching era. The Falcons started 4-0 in 2015 and ended 8-8. They began 2017 with a three-game win streak but followed it with back-to-back home losses to the Bills and Dolphins. It’s no surprise the team came to play in their two biggest matchups of the season. Those are the games that are easy to get up for. Where is the attention to detail when at home against the Titans or Bucs?
This has been an issue since Quinn arrived in Atlanta. If it weren’t, Arthur Blank would have a Super Bowl trophy from 2016. Quinn does a lot of things right, but he’s had his fair share of chances. Nothing he does from here on out should change what should be inevitable. He lost his job when the team started 1-7; he knew how much was at stake coming into the year, and he failed miserably. This is a cutthroat league. There’s no reason to feel bad, but it’s time to move on.