Things could get very bad the rest of the way for the Atlanta Falcons, who are 1-4 and haven’t played more than a half of solid defense in the last three weeks. They’re coming off the second-worst loss by points (there were worse losses I’m not going to dwell on) in the Dan Quinn era. This is the first time they’ve found themselves in this deep a hole five games in under DQ, period.
So it’s understandable—and inevitable—that the calls for Quinn were going to start. They’re fairly quiet at the moment, but make no mistake that if the Falcons put a losing season on the books in 2018, there will be no shortage of fans and analysts who suggest pushing him out the door. They’ll point to Quinn’s always questionable clock and in-game management, the lack of discipline this team seems to fall into for long stretches, and the defensive ineptitude, though much of that is genuinely due to injury.
Of course, while there are legitimate arguments to be had about the weakness of Quinn and this coaching staff more broadly, any discussion of the coach losing his job is
24 points is the second-largest margin of defeat in the Dan Quinn era (the worst was the 38-0 "selfie game" in Carolina in 2015)— Mike Conti (@MikeConti929) October 7, 2018
There are multiple reasons for this. The first is that this season has the look of an outlier for Quinn, given that this team made the Super Bowl after 2016 and the playoffs in 2017, and injuries have largely crippled the defense. The second is that the owner is Arthur Blank, and Blank made only one in-season coaching change back in 2003, when he canned longtime coach Dan Reeves because he was A) clashing with Michael Vick and B) had one playoff appearance in his previous four seasons. The third is that the Falcons have bought into Quinn in a very real way, as he’s been instrumental in building this roster and coaching staff, and Blank is not a man in a mood to tear down that infrastructure.
That could change if the Falcons get their healthy players back, enjoy a solid draft, and still underachieve in 2019. But for better or for worse and usually the former, stable franchises don’t tend to fire coaches for one lousy year, and the Falcons have prized stability.
The best case scenario here features the Falcons going on a tremendous run, pushing into the playoffs, and having Dan Quinn rub our noses in some of his favorite mantras for a bit. The worst case is that the team struggles all year, leading to some soul-searching in the offseason, some shakeups to the roster and coaching staff, and hopefully a healthy, improved team heading into 2019. There won’t be a regime change, and the Falcons will
You are, of course, welcome to advocate for his firing. You are welcome to point out his flaws, which predictably have come into sharp relief as the team has struggled. Just don’t honestly expect 2018 to be the year the Falcons change the locks for the man they gave the keys to the franchise to.