After the Falcons scored just 10 points against the Eagles, which came after the team scored almost 200 fewer points than they did in 2016 during the regular season, which came after they hired Steve Sarkisian. For that reason, among many others, Sark figures to be the hot topic of that unbearable period before we start getting free agent and draft rumors to kick around
Sarkisian was not the sole reason the Falcons’ offense regressed so mightily, if we’re being fair. The offensive line was a bit weaker with Wes Schweitzer at right guard and Andy Levitre getting hurt late in the year, Taylor Gabriel had a tremendously disappointing year considering how good he looked in 2016, and the Falcons made so many errors of execution that it’s almost not worth tallying them up here. But Sark also presided over an offense that was too often ill-suited to the task at hand, especially against the league’s toughest defenses, and thus will find himself under the microscope. The team’s inability to come up with something other than a play the Eagles saw coming and a shovel pass with the game on the line should urge the team to be very thorough in reviewing film this offseason.
It will all be for naught, more than likely. Dan Quinn expressed his confidence in Sarkisian after the game and was always likely to give him a second chance in 2018, especially with players (at least publicly) backing the offensive coordinator. Sark was a first time offensive coordinator in the NFL this year and looked like one at times, but the Falcons offense was still productive outside of the red zone, and Quinn and company will probably feel that Sarkisian can iron that out with more experience, perhaps a more experienced staff, and some tweaks to the team’s offensive personnel. They did finish top ten in overall yardage, and while that was a massive step back, it was enough to believe that things can get better.
They’ll ultimately keep Sark because Quinn has shown himself to be a reasonably loyal man, and someone who believes in getting more than one season to evaluate a coach, and because with this talent base I imagine nobody in Atlanta is all that keen on starting over, even with a veteran offensive coordinator.
That said, given the way this year ended, it would be unreasonable not to expect Sark to get scrutiny both inside and outside of the building. If the Falcons do keep him around, as expected, they’ll need to equip him to succeed so that the cries of “I told you so” don’t overwhelm them this time next year.