Two things are simultaneously true: Steve Sarkisian’s first season in Atlanta was a pretty disappointing one, and Steve Sarkisian will probably return in 2018.
You may think probably is a wishy-washy qualifier, but I’m only saying it because there is a slight chance Sark could find himself on the outs. The Falcons have their post-season presser on Wednesday with Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff, and it’s within the realm of possibility that they could announce that the team has parted ways with Sarkisian. It’s just so unlikely that it bears mention only in passing.
Why do I mention this now, when pretty much nobody wants to hear it? Because the alternatives are out there, and they’re proving to be tempting. I’ve seen Falcons fans bandy about names ranging from Gary Kubiak (who is good) to Matt LaFleur (uh, might be good) to Mike Mularkey (no), and I know it comes from a place of genuinely wanting this football team to improve. But it’s also one of those inevitable offseason wishes that doesn’t figure to come true.
Dan Quinn and the players have reportedly defended Sark to the media, and while that only means so much, nothing Atlanta has said or done indicates they might be in the market for a difference choice. Kyle Shanahan got his second year after a semi-disastrous first season (albeit with a lesser roster), and Sark figures to get his, especially since you can look at some of the surface numbers for this offense and think he did a solid job. That Mohamed Sanu touchdown pass to Julio Jones was, at minimum, worth a nice bonus.
That doesn’t mean we can’t sharply criticize Steve Sarkisian when it’s warranted, as it was Saturday against the Eagles. We’ll touch on that (and specifically Mike Lombardi’s criticism of Sark and Dan Quinn) a little later in the week. But do remember, as you build your offseason wishlists, that losing Sark isn’t going to be one of those wishes that’s particularly likely to come true.