If you had told me before the start of the season that Dan Quinn was going to be fired, I might have turned you away and asked you- respectfully- not to ever speak to me again. Quinn had been far from a perfect coach, but his body of work in Atlanta was far more pristine than any of his predecessors. He went to the Super Bowl (even though he blew it) in his second year and was coming off back-to-back postseason appearances with wins in each one. Hell, the man hadn’t even had a losing season in three years as the head coach. Coming into 2018, his seat was as safe as anyone’s outside of maybe Doug Pederson and Bill Belichick.
Even had you told me a couple weeks ago that Dan Quinn might be fired, I would have said you were crazy. Arthur Blank backed both Quinn and Dimitrioff after last week’s loss to the Ravens, which should have shut down any such talk- but the thing is- it hasn’t.
The results on the field are speaking much louder than anybody around the organization ever could- even the owner- and let’s just say they aren’t exactly ringing endorsements for Dan Quinn and this coaching staff. The Falcons followed their most lifeless performance of the season at home against Baltimore by not even showing up for their matchup with the equally disappointing Packers.
Atlanta opened with some life, scoring a touchdown on their opening drive when Matt Ryan hit Julio Jones on a crossing route in the red zone. That’s about all Falcons fans had to cheer about. The Packers responded with a touchdown on their opening drive on their way to 34 straight unanswered points. By the time this one was midway through the third quarter, it was over.
It was this kind of showing- by itself- that makes you wonder if the coach has lost the belief of the locker room. But when it happens back-to-back weeks, it all but assures the message isn’t getting through to the players.
We see it all the time in the NFL: a coach has early success, adversity hits him in the face, and they never are able to regain control of the locker room. Look no further than former Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy as the perfect example. He won a Super Bowl in 2010, followed it up with four straight divisional titles but could never get back to the Super Bowl, and then adversity hit. Now, the Packers are on the verge of suffering back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1990-1991.
And as terrific of a coach as McCarthy is, he couldn’t help that from happening. Sometimes the message gets saturated. The players are tired of hearing the same things over and over again and they stop responding the same way that they used to. Quinn has acknowledged this himself, saying, “there’s definitely disbelief” in the Falcons locker room.
Dan Quinn on his 4-9 Falcons: ‘There’s definitely dis https://t.co/dyxBLzAv1O
— Mark Bradley (@MarkBradleyAJC) December 9, 2018
While I admire Quinn’s honesty, this isn’t something many head coaches make it through. He’s clearly lost the locker room and major changes around the organization are coming. I’m all for giving Quinn another season to turn this around because after all, he’s earned it. There’s no disputing he is a fantastic football coach. There’s also no arguing he has some areas he needs to work on. But if the Falcons do opt to stick with him heading into 2019, he will be in for his most grueling coaching challenge to date.