The Atlanta Falcons officially made former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn their new head coach today. Quinn got a five year contract and will be introduced by the team tomorrow; then the real work begins. There's much for Quinn to do, with relatively little time to do it.
Vaughn McClure brought us his to do list earlier today. First on his list is a tête-à-tête with the front office.
Now that Quinn is set to assume his new role, everyone has to be clear about being on the same page. Blank said there wouldn't be a power struggle but also implied the head coach would have plenty of say, if not the bulk of the control, over the 53-man roster. Pioli, who will be the architect of the draft and free agency, has been known to strong-arm folks in the past, but he apparently has made a conscious effort to change his approach. And nobody truly knows where Dimitroff stands in the pecking order right now.
McClure is spot on with his thoughts. My to do list includes many of the same ideas, albeit in a slightly different order:
1. Public relations, public relations, public relations
The Falcons fan base is fickle, and we're going to want some face time. We may used to losing, but that doesn't mean we expect to lose. And to be frank, the Mike Smith era taught us to love again. We expect Quinn to woo us a bit; lie to us, tell us everything will be OK, maybe even sing us a little ditty.
2. Make the hardest personnel decisions as soon as possible
It's like pulling off a bandaid. Do it quickly and don't leave the fan base hanging. The Falcons have some difficult decisions ahead. Steven Jackson must be cut, and the Falcons can't afford to leave their UFAs on the open market for too long. Bring back Sean Weatherspoon, Antone Smith, and Dwight Lowery on team-friendly deals. Bring back one of Robert McClain and Josh Wilson, preferably the latter. For Vishnu's sake, extend Julio Jones before he enters his contract year.
3. Establish a "culture" from Day One
It's not easy moving on from the winningest coach in your franchise's history. Quinn needs to win over the locker room, but he also needs to lay down the law. This team has struggled with its identity in recent years - that can't continue.
4. Mitigate Noise-Gate
This had to happen, didn't it? Ideally the noise piping can't be linked to anyone in the front office or coaching staff. McClure thinks it's just one person. Assuming that's the case, let's take our knocks, find out who sprung the leak, and move on.
5. Devise a long-term plan
Quinn has a five year contract, and the Falcons expect him to be their head coach for the next five years. They need to be strategic right away, because it's going to take a year or two to
make this defense not suck turn this defense around.
What does your to do list for Quinn look like? What's his first priority? Discuss!