The Atlanta Falcons made a deliberate choice right after Christmas 2014. Their crushing 34-3 defeat on December 28, 2014 to the division rival Carolina Panthers cemented Mike Smith’s fate and mercifully ended the season. (He was fired the next day.) But they stood resolute: they’d sit back and wait for Dan Quinn to finish his Super Bowl run with the Seattle Seahawks. January 2015 came and went. They watched as qualified head coach candidate after qualified head coach candidate signed with other teams. They were comfortable waiting, because they knew what they’d ultimately get: a man capable of completely revamping their bad defense.
Fast forward a few years, and [spoiler alert] Quinn has both met and exceeded expectations. He’s turned the defense around completely. And thanks to some savvy scouting, the Falcons have one of the league’s best young defenses. The problem with that scenario is a predictable one. At some point, these rookies reach or nearly reach the end of their rookie contracts. That, of course, necessitates some hard decisions.
So how will this all play out for the Falcons? In the next two seasons, Vic Beasley, Grady Jarrett, Deion Jones, De’Vondre Campbell, Brian Poole, Ricardo Allen, and Keanu Neal could all hit free agency and sign with other teams. It’s unnerving on its face, even accounting for fifth year options, restricted free agency, franchise tagging, creative salary cap management, etc. That said, my best guess is that everything works out.
I simply don’t buy this expiring clock narrative that’s become popular when Falcons fans talk about their up and coming defense. The right guys will stay in Atlanta. If we lose a player or two in free agency, I’m confident the front office can fill those holes, be it in the draft or in free agency. In short, as long as Quinn is at the helm, I have no concerns about the viability of the defense. In this scenario, Quinn is the famous rap producer “40,” and the current defensive players are collectively Drake. Everything is going to be OK.
But what do you think? Is this a true “crisis,” or just a bunch of hysteria over nothing? Discuss!