- Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn is expected to be fired within the next 24 hours.
- Most NFL observers expected Quinn to be dismissed following the 2019 season.
- The Falcons are off to a brutal 0-5 start in the 2020 NFL campaign.
Numerous sources in the national NFL media and Atlanta local media are reporting that head coach Dan Quinn will be fired in a matter of hours. Team owner Arthur Blank gave Quinn another opportunity in the off season allowing him to return when most NFL observers expected him to be fired. Blank now appears to have run out of patience and Quinn is out ‘barring a change of heart’. There are also reports that Blank is contemplating firing GM Thomas Dimitroff as well.
Quinn has a 43-41 regular season record in Atlanta along with a 3-2 playoff record. The Falcons have been extremely inconsistent in the past year and that’s not a good quality for a NFL team. Last season, the Falcons looked awful in opening the season 1-7 but went 6-2 down the stretch. That bought Quinn a reprieve and the COVID-19 pandemic made it even more difficult to move on. Blank has apparently had enough with the Falcons going 0-5 to start the 2020 NFL season.
The state of the Falcons’ franchise is clearly reflected in local media reports. One column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is titled ‘No Way Arthur Blank still can believe Dan Quinn will turn around Falcons’. Excellent Falcons beat reporter Michael Cunningham doesn’t pull any punches:
Quinn can encourage the Falcons, but he can’t coach them to a win. He led them to a Super Bowl once and blew it. It’s been diminishing returns since then. This season is worst of all.
The Falcons lost 23-16 to the Panthers at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. They are 0-5 for the first time since 1997, Dan Reeves’ first as coach. The Falcons finished 7-9 that season and went to the Super Bowl the next season. No one who’s been paying attention thinks Quinn can engineer a turnaround close to that one.
Not even Falcons team owner Arthur Blank can believe that anymore. Blank’s assertion that the 6-2 finish to last season would carry over to this season already has been exposed as wishful thinking Blank is not football man, but it doesn’t take one to see the Falcons are a bad team going nowhere.
The usually patient and affable Quinn declined an interview request by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after the game and then informed reporter D. Orlando Ledbetter via text that “When we have something to say I’ll say it.”
The same column reported that Falcons brass had not discussed Quinn’s job status before the Carolina game. Quinn continues to have the support of the Falcons’ locker room to the point that even newcomer Todd Gurley was trying to jump on the grenade for his coach:
“Yeah, stop talking about my coach, man. I’m sick of it. But obviously, I’ve got his back. When I was a free agent (this past offseason), he was one of the only guys personally to give me a call and reach out to me. When everybody thought I lost it he believed in me. I can’t do anything but rock with a guy like that. He’s been solid to me these last couple of months.”
Quarterback Matt Ryan did the same thing when asked if he thought Quinn would be fired:
“I hope not. I think Dan’s been nothing but a great head coach since he’s been here. We just haven’t done a good enough job as a team and as players. It’s a hard business, that’s for sure. We all love and respect what Dan does for this football team. We’ve got to find a way as players to be better.”
On balance, it’s a good thing when a roster of NFL players support their head coach. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean much unless it is accompanied by on field success as the AJC’s Michael Cunningham points out:
The Panthers couldn’t save Quinn this time. He may still be good at encouraging the Falcons. He’s no longer good at coaching them to win.
Blank co-founded a little operation called ‘Home Depot’ and despite the supposed egocentrism of the billionaire class remains a true gentleman. This year, he’s spent more time in the news for scratching out several 7 figure checks to support workers displaced by the coronavirus pandemic than he has for anything related to his NFL team. He strikes me as an unusually patient man but even he has his limits. There’s always the chance he could have a change of heart but the more likely scenario is the end of the road for Dan Quinn in Atlanta.
UPDATE: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff were fired by the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night.
Falcons president and CEO Rich McKay will take over day to day football operational oversight for the time being. He’ll also assist owner Arthur Blank in searching for a new coach and GM. Based on the verbiage in the press release–indicating that Dimitroff’s current responsibilities ‘will be handled by current members of the football operations staff for the remainder of 2020’–it doesn’t look as if any permanent coach/GM hires will be done before the end of the season.
An announcement of the interim head coach is expected on Tuesday. Former NFL head coaches Raheem Morris and Dirk Koetter are on the Falcons staff and it seems likely that one of them will take over as interim head coach.