The Falcons have all but hired Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn as their next head coach. The only thing keeping them from doing so is the Seahawks, having just advanced to their second Super Bowl in as many years following one of the crazier NFC title games in recent memory.
If we're being specific, though, it's the NFL's hiring policies that keep the Falcons from officially striking a deal with Quinn before Seattle's season is completely in the books. However, those rules don't keep the Falcons from reaching a de facto agreement with Quinn, which pretty clearly has taken shape in the past week. And that explains why the team has already gone ahead and hired Kyle Shanahan as its offensive coordinator.
From the Falcons' standpoint, this is a fairly reasonable way to go about ensuring that they land the right head coach and, in turn, unemployed assistants like Shanahan that would make strong additions to the coaching staff. To Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, however, the Falcons are setting a bad example for the rest of the NFL's straight-laced, by-the-books franchises.
From Monday's report regarding Atlanta's second interview with Quinn (emphasis mine):
The rule don’t allow the Falcons to offer the job to Quinn until after the Super Bowl, but plenty of winking and nodding will surely happen during that interview. Then again, perhaps it already has.
Why else would the Falcons be hiring offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan before hiring a head coach? Unless the Falcons under Arthur Blank have morphed into the Raiders under Al Davis, Atlanta knows who Shanahan will be working for. He’ll be working for Quinn.
While not a violation of the letter of the rules, it’s a violation of the spirit of the rules. Committed by a team whose CEO, Rich McKay, chairs the NFL’s Competition Committee. Which isn’t a great look for the Falcons, the NFL, or McKay.
First, "the rule don't allow" does not exhibit subject-verb agreement. Sorry, just had to point that out.
Secondly, it would be one thing if other teams didn't employ the same practices, but that's certainly not the case. This is akin to crying foul for teams reaching out to player representation before the free agency period officially begins; it's simply the way deals often are reached in the NFL. And if your team doesn't make the first move, another surely will.
Besides, the fact that Florio takes issue with the Falcons is incredibly silly when you realize that they are the only team currently without a head coach. Then again, why question a silly rule that hurts teams pursuing coaches on playoff teams when it's so much easier to play moral compass from atop the golden throne of PFT?
Speaking of morality, it's pretty unsettling that Florio would call out the Falcons for their handshake agreement with Quinn and then provide little to no exposition on Miami skirting the Rooney Rule in its hiring of Mike Tannenbaum. But of course this sort of finger-wagging stupidity is simply par for the course for Florio, who has justified an argument by calling soccer "boring," ridiculed a player with a learning disability and questioned Cardale Jones' maturity for... holding a press conference to announce that he would be returning to Ohio State.
That's some high-quality journalism if I've ever seen it. But fear not, Mr. Florio: the NFL's shield remains safe and shiny under your vigilant watch.