We’re staring down the last four games of the season as the Falcons sit at 4-8, and it’s hard to not be frustrated. Some of that frustration has been rightly directed at the coaching staff, and the man who’s ultimately responsible for how they perform — Dan Quinn.
Before the injuries, before the team came out and played like they were just entitled to beating the Browns, Cowboys, Saints, and Ravens without really trying, it would have been difficult to imagine Dan Quinn being in danger of losing his job after the season. But a team that was considered a viable Super Bowl contender before the season began will now finish, at best, at .500, and that’s only if they muster the ability to win four straight to close things out.
Is Dan Quinn’s job in jeopardy? Our staff has thoughts.
Dan Quinn’s seat is only mildly warm for now.
Arthur Blank has already shown he’s not going to make a coaching change after one bad season, especially one in which the injury situation was severe early on. That said, issues with game and clock management continue to be a problem for Dan Quinn and those kinds of failures won’t be tolerated indefinitely. So long as 2019 shows a significant turn-around, Dan Quinn won’t have to think about job security. However, if these issues persist well into the next season, this conversation will change drastically. - DW
Dan Quinn’s seat is comfortably cool.
There’s a reason people joke that NFL stands for Not For Long. Careers are contingent upon health and performance for players, and there’s very little job security for coaches who lose a grip on success, no matter what they’ve accomplished in the past. It’s easy to look at the up and down performances from the Falcons this season, and especially how they have trended in the wrong direction over the past few weeks, and draw the conclusion that Arthur Blank may lose patience with Quinn after this season. But his track record of success in Atlanta — a Super Bowl bid in his second season, then overcoming the Super Bowl hangover to beat the Rams in the Wild Card round before losing a close one to the eventual Super Bowl champion Eagles on the road — shouldn’t be overlooked, and neither should the catastrophic injuries. Quinn is safe for now. If this team doesn’t come out swinging with healthy starters next season, we may have a different tale to tell. - Jeanna Thomas
Quinn’s job security isn’t in question...for now.
Dan Quinn’s flaws are evident at this point, and he needs to take steps to rectify them. But his in-game management, while a legitimate trouble spot, is a trouble spot shared by many coaches in the NFL, including leading lights like Andy Reid and Doug Pederson. The truth is that those kinds of flaws show up in an outsized way when your football team is already bad, and Quinn’s seeming lack of answers this year have made many doubt whether he was ever good in the first place. Yet the Falcons didn’t play well in 2016 and 2017 by accident, but because Quinn was savvy enough to build a staff that included Kyle Shanahan and to bring aboard players who improved a roster that was legitimately woeful by the end of 2014. He’s going to get a pass because of injuries from Arthur Blank, but we’ve seen him pilot quality teams to great heights in the recent past, and I have no reason to believe if the talent’s there that he won’t do so again, especially if he takes concrete steps to tidy up and improve the staff.
If you’re looking for the guy to preside over a bad football team and make them significantly better, Quinn probably isn’t that guy. If you want someone who can (mostly) identify talent effectively and keep a winning team humming along, DQ has already shown us he is that guy. That’s why this is such a pivotal offseason for the team, because if the Falcons can’t better their roster heading into 2019 and can’t provide Quinn with some sort of in-game resource to help him with time-and-down decisions, a repeat of 2018 is probably going to get him canned. —Dave Choate
Quinn’s seat should be warm, but he’s in no danger of being fired.
I still believe Dan Quinn is a good coach, perhaps even a great one. There are several things he does well, chief among them talent evaluation and player development. However, he’s also very, very bad at game management, and I think he’s made some questionable personnel decisions in 2018. The biggest red flag, for me, is the fact that the Falcons look completely disinterested in playing football. If the team finishes 4-12, Quinn deserves a lot of criticism and will enter 2019 firmly on the hot seat. I still believe the team finishes 7-9—Atlanta has a habit of turning it on in December under Quinn—and in that case, he’s totally safe and will still have plenty of leeway in 2019. We should expect coaching staff changes this offseason either way, which will hopefully include hiring a game management specialist (similar to what the Rams have done this season). -Kevin Knight
Quinn’s seat should be comfortable, but improvement is necessary.
Dan Quinn is a marvelous motivator, talent scout and developer and culture builder. He’s well-loved by his locker room and is a natural leader. He’s also a bit flawed from an Xs and Os standpoint in situational coaching and didn’t collectively with the front office make the right moves to address the injuries that sprout up from that schematic standpoint. He does not deserve to be fired anytime soon, nor should he. Countless teams in the NFL would call him the second he got booted from Atlanta; he does so many things right that other teams in the league would fall over backwards to have meet their franchise. But he does stand to improve aspects of his in-game coaching in the offseason. We’ve not asked Quinn to look inward during his tenure with the team; now’s the time for him to do so, though. It will make him a stronger coach to finally address the situational coaching and team mentality late in games, and will put this conversation to rest in the future. - Cory Woodroof
Quinn’s seat is brisk.
Any notion that Quinn should be fired is nonsensical. Although the past month has been concerning based on the team’s overall lack of intensity, it would be harsh to even question Quinn’s job security. The fiery head coach has done incredible work in retooling a severely flawed roster back in 2015, while uniting a city in dire need of a championship-caliber team. They obviously didn’t finish the job in 2016-2017 and 2017-2018, yet the Falcons were undoubtedly a legitimate contender. Teams were fearful of wanting to play them because of their explosive offense and rapidly-improving defense. Things didn’t pan out this year, due to a plethora of injuries and poor finishing in the fourth quarter. Quinn’s in-game management didn’t help matters, as improvement is greatly needed following some baffling decisions in high-pressured situations. Adding more creativity to his defensive philosophy would be beneficial as well. These are objectives that can be accomplished. Quinn is clearly on the pulse of where the league is going. If he wasn’t, how would the Falcons continue to draft so well on a yearly basis? Every coach is going to endure a tough year. What Quinn accomplished in 2016 and 2017 (along with shutting down the high-flying Rams in the 2018 playoffs) far outweighs what’s transpired this season. - Allen Strk
Dan Quinn’s seat is toasty while comfortable
With one more loss this season, this will turn out to be Dan Quinn’s first losing season at the helm of the Falcons. During his tenure up to this point, Quinn has guided the Falcons to an NFC South division title, an NFC championship, a Super Bowl berth and another playoff berth. This year’s team had high and I mean high expectations but an injury bug derailed those plans. Being logical here, Quinn is deserving of a mulligan somewhat this season based on the team experiencing a crippling amount of injuries and constant significant change in lineups on a weekly basis. A non-playoff season in 2019 however can lead to that hot seat reaching uncomfortable temperatures. - Eric Robinson
Dan Quinn’s seat is heating up
Coaches are rarely fired strictly due to a few game stretch or even just a bad season. In the same way a new car goes from perfect to a problem, the shine on Dan Quinn has dimmed. Arthur Blank had to think the Super Bowl was a freak accident, but now multiple issues have started to pile up. The Falcons missed an easy path to repeat in the Super Bowl in 2017, and have missed the chance at even sniffing the playoffs in 2018. Blank’s shiny new car is now full of problems. He’s not ready to move on yet but another poor showing in 2019 will change that. - Matt Chambers
Dan Quinn’s seat is like lukewarm coffee: it’s not the right temperature and nobody wants it
February 2015 is a vague memory now. Dan Quinn was a fantastic hire that made a lot sense when the Mike Smith era mercifully came to an end. But nearly four years later, all those fuzzy feelings and goodwill have begun to erode. An NFL head coach getting a “pass” after an injury-filled season is admittedly a rarity. One wonders where that line is; in other words, how many injuries would justify or excuse a lost season? Is every head coach expected to generate wins, no matter what personnel he’s left to work with? Right or wrong, Quinn probably isn’t super comfortable right now. - James Rael
Dan Quinn’s seat is warmer now than it was before the season, but not enough to threaten his job security
This obviously hasn’t been a great season for Dan Quinn or the Falcons. It started off with a string of injuries which were just impossible to recover from, but I don’t think that we can blame the team’s performance solely on injuries. Quinn has been out-coached in every game of this current four-game losing streak, and looks like he’s had a hard time galvanizing his unit as of late. His job security isn’t in question nor should it be, as he’s still a very good coach whose good (scouting; team building) outweighs his bad (in-game management). There’s a precedent already set here — the Falcons suffered a tumultuous 2013 season mired by injuries, but Arthur Blank didn’t make any drastic coaching changes. However, when the team underachieved in 2014 as well, head coach Mike Smith was fired. If we have to suffer through another poor season next year, then Quinn’s seat will get ever so hot. - Adnan Ikic