The Atlanta Falcons are one NFL team capable of making a substantial jump during the 2016 season. Could they make the playoffs and win a game or two? Absolutely. Then again, could head coach Dan Quinn fail in epic fashion and rapidly find himself on the hot seat? Sure. I'm a shameless homer, so I tend to think the former is more likely than the latter.
I'll admit that Quinn hasn't done a whole lot to inspire great confidence in his ability as a head coach. Along those lines, franchise quarterback Matt Ryan is always reaching for that "elite" status. But knowing what we know now, that particular head coach/quarterback pairing doesn't look bad. I'll start the 2016 season optimistic, believing this could, against all odds, be the year.
Others aren't so confident. In fact, USA Today's "For the Win" writer Steven Ruiz doesn't think highly of the pairing. He thinks it's among the league's worst. (Mind you, Ruiz is a little fixated on last season's loss to the 49ers.)
22. Falcons: Dan Quinn and Matt Ryan
If Quinn goes for a touchdown on fourth down from the 1-yard-line late in that 49ers game, the Falcons are higher on this list. That's the exact moment when Quinn's honeymoon phase came to an abrupt end.
This seems a little ... harsh. Again, the jury is still out on Quinn's ability as a head coach. But he did lead the league's best defense as defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks. And his impact on the Falcons' lowly defense is already evident.
What's more, this just reeks of contempt for Ryan. For whatever reason, non-Falcons fans love to hate on Ryan. I personally don't see what's wrong with consistent leadership and some of the most clutch quarterback play in NFL history, but who am I to question such things? In the end, this appears to be mostly fueled by an unfamiliarity with Quinn and a belief that Ryan isn't as good as Falcons fans think he is. Take that for what it is, because come August, the win/loss column won't hinge on this.