I said it in the recap this morning and I’ll repeat it here: It was literally unimaginable, heading into this game, that Steve Sarkisian and the Falcons offense would play so ineptly against one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Maybe you were worried about Sark’s play calling, Matt Ryan’s sailed throws, or the improvement New England put out there a week ago. None of that added up to seven points, but that is the output we got last night.
After the game, and after watching a litany of baffling decisions that included short third down passes and a sweep to Taylor Gabriel on 4th and feet to go near the goal line, the cries for firing Steve Sarkisian arrived like a great tidal wave. My Twitter mentions, which I consider a decently reliable barometer of how the fanbase is feeling, were probably 85% in favor of kicking his butt to the curb this morning. If you watched that game, you could not be blamed for feeling that way whatsoever.
Of course, feeling that the offensive coordinator should be fired for coaxing 41 points over three weeks out of this group is different than believing the team will cut ties with Sark seven weeks into the season. The first is a rash but reasonable case if you think that Sarkisian is in over his head and can’t improve the play of this offense. The second runs contrary to everything Arthur Blank and Dan Quinn have been about during their time in Atlanta, where the midseason firing is basically unheard of. Dan Quinn replaced Richard Smith, sure, but he didn’t fire him.
So please, as much as it may pain you, heed my words. The chances of Sark being fired this week are incredibly slim, and you shouldn’t invest many of your hopes and dreams in that outcome. Quinn made the hire because he believes in Sarkisian, and while a full season of this putridity would put enough heat on him that he might have to make a move, the team dropping to .500 after six games just isn’t going to get it done. Quinn will probably publicly throw his support behind Sark, quietly put the screws in him behind the scenes, and potentially ask Raheem Morris to get a bit more involved in the offense, for all the good that’s likely to do.
Expect more pressure to arrive on Matt Ryan’s shoulders, too. The reigning NFL MVP is on the fourth coordinator of his career and is missing enough throws deep that he almost has to get more scrutiny from the coaching staff and fans, even if I don’t think he’s primarily to blame, or anything close to it. The players will rightly say they need to execute better, but at the end of the day executing Sark’s gameplan better still isn’t getting them the yards and points they needed these last three weeks.
Make no mistake: The hiring of Sarkisian could put a huge dent in Quinn’s reputation if it continues to fail like this, and it could lead this team into the kind of spiral that costs others careers. Quinn stuck his neck out to bring Sark aboard, he has every reason to want to see him succeed, and it’ll take more than three hideous offensive performances in a row to move him to fire his handpicked offensive coordinator. For better or for worse.