The biggest criticism of Dan Quinn that has nothing to do with his sometimes disastrous clock management has to do with the way he delegates. Like many head coaches before him, Quinn came up the ranks on one side of the ball, having primarily served as a defensive coach and defensive coordinator en route to Atlanta. To no one’s surprise, he has been extremely active in shaping this defense and even calling plays for it, and Quinn is the primary architect of the unit you see today.
Even on that side of the ball, Quinn tries to be reasonable hands off with Marquand Manuel, a very gifted coach in his own right. When it comes to the offense and special teams, however, Quinn has by his own admission had very little involvement. After that criticism intensified for the second straight postseason, though, Quinn appears to be changing his stance.
What this actually means in practice is anyone’s guess, to be frank. Quinn could certainly try his hand at some involvement in play calling and almost certainly will be more involved with game planning, but he’s not going to morph into a miracle worker on that side of the ball. Ditto special teams, where he might have some valuable input in terms of a player’s roles, but isn’t likely to start dictating the way his players block, for example. It’s all likely to add up to an increased level of involvement and awareness, but is unlikely to translate into Quinn suddenly seizing control of anything and/or overruling his coaches.
I’ll go on record and say that while I don’t think increased involvement from Quinn is a bad thing, I’m not sure it’s going to result in anything more than some nice offseason stories with Quinn looking at Steve Sarkisian with his brow furrowed. Quinn is a defensive coach, and the vast majority of coaches in the NFL delegate significant control to assistants, and play calling duties on at least one side of the ball. The whole backlash against Quinn ignores that this is the reality for much of the NFL, and there really is nothing unique about a coach deferring to his coordinators.
It’s being framed as a negative here because the Falcons have twice blown winnable playoff games thanks to inept performances by offensive coordinators, however, which certainly makes it feel like something that needs to be addressed. I think it’s encouraging that Quinn recognizes that, at the very least.
That said, would I like Quinn to feel comfortable making that call if, for example, someone were to elect not to run the ball at all with a massive lead? Yes. There is very little downside to the team’s head coach becoming a more complete coach, but I hope this team continues to try to build the strongest possible coaching staff, and Quinn can continue to focus on building the roster, improving his gameday decision-making, and coming up with great t-shirt slogans.