Around this time last year, LaCanfora wrote about Atlanta's impending firing of Mike Smith and the thinking of owner Arthur Blank. After another season of disappointment, LaCanfora has another report with Blank's thinking on the team. Not too much should come as a surprise.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank is seriously considering major changes in his personnel department, according to league sources, and is likely to move on from general manager Thomas Dimitroff and much of his staff, with the team again in a sustained tailspin and its talent level under question. Blank is committed to first-year head coach Dan Quinn, sources said, and the top two candidates for a general manager spot there would likely have significant ties to Quinn.
Seattle director of pro personnel Trent Kirchner, who worked closely with Quinn during their stint together with the Seahawks, and Vikings assistant general manager George Paton, who was with Quinn with the Dolphins a decade ago, are very strong options to replace Dimitroff, sources said, and numerous sources with knowledge of the situation would be very surprised if one of them did not take over personnel for the Falcons.
That is a lot of news for two paragraphs. As expected, Thomas Dimitroff is gone, likely along with Scott Pioli and anyone else of note. Based on the complete mismanagement of of this team's roster the last five years, this is not surprising.
Dan Quinn is safe, as expected. There is no mention of the rest of the coaching staff, but that will likely be left up to Quinn. After Atlanta invested so much into the top candidate of 2014, it is extremely premature to get rid of Quinn. He has done well with perhaps the league's least-talented defense. The offense, of course, has been an unmitigated disaster since October.
Kirchner and Paton are quality options. Both have plenty of experience, but it is always difficult to place blame or responsibility of a certain move or pick on one person. When Dimitroff was fired hired, he was considered one of the people who found CB Asante Samuel in the 4th round of the 2003 draft. He, of course, was never able to draft a competent cornerback after the second round.
Kirchner and Paton are both very highly thought of around the league and have been considered for general manager jobs in the past. They will have interest outside of Atlanta as well, but given their connections to Quinn and shared vision with him, numerous sources have identified them as being very well positioned for Atlanta's general manager role should it open up as expected.
Quinn will likely be given significant input on the general manager, pushing for someone with a closer mentality and outlook for the team. Atlanta's front office is an odd mixture of responsibilities after Blank decided to restructure personnel. The best anyone can tell, Dimitroff is in charge of managing the cap, which is easy because so few of their draft picks have required any hefty contracts.
LaCanfora states that Blank has considered firing Dimitroff for years, but is finally ready to pull the trigger after this season.
Blank continues to reach out to confidants for ways to pull out of the funk, and sources said the feedback on the state of the team's roster and recent drafts has not been positive.
Tyson Jackson did not receive enthusiastic applause? I am shocked. Shocked I say! As we have mentioned recently, the Falcons have an embarrassing few draft picks left remaining on this team. Free agency can either be described as bad or worse. While there is some potential at a few positions, the roster is exceptionally devoid of talent outside of a few top players.
Blank appears to be like the fans: unhappy and frustrated with the state of the team. Thankfully, changes are coming.