It may have been in the back of some minds to start the season, but it has never been more prevalent than now to fire head coach Dan Quinn. After an 0-3 start and staring down a 3-0 powerhouse, many fans have lost hope. Two crushing losses by way of 15-point blown leads in the final quarter has fans calling for Arthur Blank to completely clean house or at least get rid of Quinn. The Falcons’ owner has never fired a head coach that he hired midseason, and I do not think he will start now, barring something drastic over the next few weeks.
When asked about it, Quinn insists his focus is directed on bettering the team and preparing for Green Bay, not necessarily coaching for his job.
“I hit that last night. I think anytime, with all respect to that, anytime I take away from that takes away from the team and the focus for Monday night. So, it doesn’t do any value to discuss it much further than that other than just anything that would take my focus away from the team and playing as well as we can play up in Green Bay on Monday night, we’ll leave it there.”
Many fans have the advantage of not being directly invested (financially) in NFL teams (aside from stock owners in the Packers), but that makes fans emotional instead of logical when it comes to football decisions. Though it seems unlikely the Falcons upset the Packers on Monday Night Football, Quinn probably will not be fired following the game. Regardless of the outcome, he will still find himself on the hot seat come Tuesday morning. Therefore, I will enlighten the Falcons’ faithful on the pros and cons of firing Dan Quinn midseason.
Head Coaching Search:
This team — if everything else goes perfect — is looking to finish somewhere between 6-10 and 8-8. Even if the team goes 9-7 and barely misses the playoffs, Quinn will likely be fired following the season. If the Falcons move on from Quinn midseason, it will allow Blank and Thomas Dimitroff, or whoever is the general manager, to publicly start evaluating potential head coaches. Teams with popular head coaching candidates on staff will likely be in the postseason, which complicates things. But there still exists a slight advantage of starting early, giving management a leg up in landing their top candidate.
The Falcons are losing close games, in fact, games that should definitely have been won. Although Falcon players still believe in their head coach, there is something fundamentally wrong with this team and the way they have lost the past two weeks. Firing Quinn midseason could prove to be the spark the Falcons need, as it likely eliminates the stress put on the players. Players read and hear what the media is suggesting regarding Dan Quinn’s situation. This way, it would clear their minds for the rest of the season, resulting in improved play and winning games.
After losing the Super Bowl in 2016, fans have been disappointed more and more each season. Two 7-9 campaigns and now an 0-3 start that has come via two absolute meltdowns in the fourth quarter has fans as low as they have been since February 5th, 2017. Dan Quinn was originally hired because of his extensive defensive experience, but the defense has been the most vulnerable over the last three seasons. Firing Quinn now would indirectly communicate to the fans that Arthur Blank hears them.
There is always a chance that things do not get better after firing a head coach midseason. Just like the interim coach has to adjust to their new position, players have to adapt to their new head coach. By firing Quinn midseason, Arthur Blank could inadvertently send a message to players that the organization is punting on the rest of the 2020 season, which could lead to a reduction in effort, a disruption in development, and a lack of a team-first mentality. This could result in players becoming selfish in what is supposed to be the most unselfish game in sports. Players in contract years protecting themselves from injuries for future contract negotiations will harm the entire team. There are several young pieces on the team that could see their growth impacted. Chemistry is incredibly important, and distractions can prove fatal.
Usually, an outside coach is not brought in to replace a head coach in the middle of a season. Instead, it would be an in-house candidate, most likely a coordinator but sometimes a position coach. Atlanta’s coordinators have previous head coaching experience, which makes one think it would have to be one of them. But they are coordinators for a reason, and that is because of the lack of success they both had as head coaches. Arthur Blank would evaluate his internal options, but there is no guarantee either would improve the team’s situation. Interim coaches are essentially thrown to the wolves to establish their own identity, while simultaneously preparing for the upcoming game, which can be extremely difficult.
It is also challenging to imagine either of these options as long-term solutions in Atlanta. The answer lies somewhere externally. Below is every coach that as been fired midseason since the 2000 season. Although there is a slight improvement in winning percentage, it is not significant enough to support a midseason termination.
Arthur Blank pays Thomas Dimitroff to consult with him on decisions like these, weighing all options and their consequences. Dimitroff could find himself in Blank’s good graces, but he does not have the authority to fire Quinn midseason. His only responsibility on this issue is presenting Blank with his outlook on the rest of the season, accompanied by the advantages and disadvantages of firing Quinn midseason.
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