The Atlanta Falcons have decided to part ways with offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who couldn’t fill the massive shoes left by former OC Kyle Shanahan. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the news on Monday, sharing that the Falcons will also move on from defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong.
“All three of these men are excellent coaches that I have a lot of respect for,” Dan Quinn said Monday via the team’s media relations department. “While these are difficult decisions, we know we have a group of players here we are excited about and in order for us to consistently play true to our identity in all three phases we thought we needed some changes.”
On Sark specifically, Quinn said that the team simply needs new direction.
“Sark has shown he’s a good coach and play caller,” Quinn said. “After evaluating the entire season, I decided it was necessary that we had a new voice and direction for our offensive unit. I have a ton of respect for Sark, both personally and professionally, and I appreciate all he’s done during his time here.”
Sarkisian was hired from the University of Alabama to fill Atlanta’s vacant OC job on February 7, 2017, following Shanahan’s departure to become the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
Despite being left with many of the same weapons which put up historic numbers in 2016, Sarkisian oversaw an offensive regression from second in yardage (6,653 total yards) and first in scoring (33.8 ppg) to eighth in yardage (5837) and 15th in scoring (22.1 ppg) in his first year as the team’s OC.
Matt Ryan followed up an MVP season of 4,944 passing yards and a TD/INT ratio of 38/7 in 2016 with a rather pedestrian year of 4,095 passing yards and a TD/INT ratio of 20/12 in 2017, going from Shanahan to Sarkisian as his OC.
The fanbase soured on Sark with some very questionable playcalls over the course of the year, such as a jet sweep out of an empty backfield with Taylor Gabriel on 4th and goal against the New England Patriots in Week 7, and a shovel pass to third-string RB Terron Ward on 2nd and goal on the final drive of the game against the Philadelphia Eagles in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, to name a few.
There was improvement in the 2018 season, as the Falcons remained in the top 10 in total offense and climbed closer to top 10 in scoring offense — upping their points to over 25 per game.
Ryan reclaimed his MVP-like form, but the wins became fewer and farther between, and the offense went into a scoring draught where they put up just 20 points or fewer in every game of the team’s season-crippling five-game losing streak between weeks 10 and 14.
With Sarkisian being relieved of his post, the Falcons will once again be on the hunt for a new offensive coordinator — their fifth in the Matt Ryan era.
Darrell Bevell is a name which has already been linked to the team as a potential Sarkisian successor. Gary Kubiak is probably the most popular choice among the fans (and the writers here at The Falcoholic) to be the next OC.
Atlanta’s vacant OC position will likely be one of the most sought-after assistant coaching positions in the NFL, because of the quarterback and the weapons which are already in place.
We wish Steve Sarkisian the best of luck moving forward. It would be great to see him land on his feet somewhere because after all, he’s still a man who has a family to feed.