In 2015, Dan Quinn’s Falcons went 8-8. In 2016, they went 11-5 and made it to the Super Bowl. In 2017, facing heightened expectations, they’ve thus far managed a 4-4 record which features some close, bungled losses.
As is predictable when a team that is expected to be a contender starts—and then keeps—losing, the coaching staff is getting some blowback from fans. Yesterday, I decided to take an unscientific poll to see where the team’s head coach and three coordinators stood with the fanbase on a scale from 1-5. We got nearly 1,000 votes per poll before I wrote this, which is hopefully a large enough sample size to be meaningful.
Dan Quinn - 4
The results here were all over the map, but Quinn pulled down 34% of his votes at #4, followed by 28% at 3 and 19% at 5. Generally, it would seem, the fanbase at least still has a level of confidence in the head coach, who has an annoying taste for vague answers and upbeat cliches, but also has an unquestioned eye for talent and has presided over one of just two Super Bowl teams in Atlanta. It’ll take a lot more to make the plurality of fans upset with him.
Steve Sarkisian - 1
This result surprised even me. A stunning 61% of you basically copped to having no faith whatsoever in Steve Sarkisian, despite some modest strides over the last two weeks. I believe the bulk of the fanbase would like to see him fired either right now or by the end of the year, and I also believe the bulk of the fanbase is going to be disappointed when it doesn’t happen. I haven’t seen such hatred for a coordinator since early Kyle Shanahan in 2015.
Marquand Manuel - 4
Manuel was pretty evenly split between 4 and 3, with a slight edge in the former. Most fans seem to like the job he’s done with the defense, even if discipline and errors are still a major problem.
Keith Armstrong - 3
Unshockingly, people are not thrilled with Armstrong’s special teams units thus far, but the bulk of fans still has a level of trust in him after many, many good years in Atlanta. I think that’s fair.
Assuming we have a representative sample of the fanbase here at The Falcoholic, it seems like there is a reasonable amount of trust in this coaching staff outside of Sark, who everyone wants to get rid of more or less immediately.
Later today, we’ll talk about why a Sarkisian firing would be surprising and unlikely to help the team out that much, but suffice to say skepticism of and anger toward the coaching staff is nothing new here.
Go back and read this post from a year ago, when the Falcons had just blown a 27-10 lead over the Chargers at home and lost in overtime 33-30. Then go read the comments, and you’ll see the same mix of cautiously optimistic people and those ready to flee the ship. The difference this year is that the Falcons offense is demonstrably leaving points on the field every week—sometimes gobs of them—and thus it is easy to find a coach to blame. If Sark doesn’t start wringing better results out of this unit, that score threatens to somehow go south of 1.