The Atlanta Falcons were not, for much of their history, a very stable franchise. There was a ton of turnover on the team’s coaching staff, some in the front office, and certainly plenty on the roster. That has changed markedly under Mike Smith and now especially under Dan Quinn.
That led Danny Kelly at The Ringer to name the Falcons the most stable franchise in the entire NFL. No, really.
What’s the most stable franchise in the NFL? @DannyBKelly ranked all 32 teams: https://t.co/GtFhHgGLXs— The Ringer (@ringer) February 8, 2018
What’s behind that ranking? Here’s Kelly:
In three years at the helm, head coach Dan Quinn has proved to be a savvy game planner (see: the team’s wild-card win over the Rams) and capable leader, and is in no danger of losing his job. Both coordinators will return (a rarity this year), the schemes and language therein remain unchanged, and both sides of the ball are packed with talent—with few major holes to patch. There’s plenty of hand-wringing in Atlanta about the decision to retain offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, but a drop-off from the team’s offensive explosion under Kyle Shanahan in 2016 was completely predictable (plus, they weren’t as bad as you might think from an efficiency point of view, finishing ninth in offensive DVOA). This isn’t the sexy top pick, but it’s hard to find a team that checks more stability boxes.
The Falcons have a head coach who is in absolutely no danger of being fired any time soon, one who draws on a deep staff, even if we all think he should exert more day-to-day and minute-to-minute control over that staff. They have a franchise quarterback and a young defense delivered by a front office run by the same man who has been the team’s top personnel executive since 2008. There are so few franchise outside of the Patriots (who have their own problems with bleeding coordinators and strife) and the damn Saints who can really match that kind of stability. It hasn’t led the Falcons to the promised land, which is enough to drive you crazy, but it has put them in a position to contend every year, and a Super Bowl win could still flow from that down the line.
Importantly, it starts at the top. I’m generally loathe to give a ton of credit for a franchise’s success to an owner, but Arthur Blank has been a largely patient, calm owner, not prone to cycling through executives or coaches to get the results he wants. If anything, he’s been willing to shell out a little more for this team to build an imposing front office and coaching staff, and under Quinn that has translated to a 29-19 regular season record, 3-2 playoff record, and a Super Bowl berth in three seasons.
While I thirst for more from this franchise, this ranking makes sense, and I still prefer stability to the doomed cycle of switches that has driven teams like the Browns and Jets for way too long.