In any reasonably healthy fanbase, there will be some disagreement about how good the coaching staff is. There are a fair number of Falcons fans who are convinced that Dan Quinn is not actually a great coach so much as he is a shrewd evaluator of talent, and plenty more who think he is a great coach with some clock management flaws that show up a bit too often.
Regardless, I think we’d all agree that the Falcons have some good coaches on staff, even if you’re sour on Steve Sarkisian. I think at minimum I’d put them in the top half of the league, and probably toward the back end of the top ten if Sark has made any strides at all. I would not expect to see them ranked 18th, but that’s precisely what Bleacher Report has done.
The Atlanta coaching staff missed departed offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan in 2017. It had the league’s highest-scoring offense with Shanahan in charge in 2016, but that unit ranked just 15th in that category under Sarkisian’s tutelage last year.
That’s ridiculous considering how much talent the Falcons have on that side of the ball.
Don’t worry about Manuel because Quinn essentially runs the defense, and he deserves credit because that young unit took a major step forward in a quietly strong 2017 campaign. He also has a stellar career win-loss record, but he deserves a lot of blame for that unforgettable collapse in Super Bowl LI.
Put it all together, and this is a below-average staff.
What to make of this? I think it’s pretty absurd to rank this coaching staff here, frankly. I’m not here to argue that Quinn and company are above reproach, given some of their genuine mistakes over the last few years, but I am here to argue that this is one of the better coaching staffs in the league.
The outright dismissal of Marquand Manuel, one of the league’s most talked-about defensive coordinators, is an odd thing. The lack of a mention of the team’s assistant-heavy, talented coaching staff is also odd. The refusal to even look in the direction of Keith Armstrong, who despite his struggles is a renowned special teams coach, also rankles.
Yet there are some fair critiques in here, too. Quinn really has had some issues with game management, fatally so in the Super Bowl, and Steve Sarkisian really didn’t show a lot of aptitude for running an offense in 2017. If Sark turns out to have been a genuinely bad hire and not just a slow-starting one, that has real implications for this team’s 2018 success and Dan Quinn’s decision-making, and perhaps then this ranking will look prescient when we return to it.
At the moment, though, it feels like an odd and sort of random placement on an odd and random list that puts Washington’s mediocre staff five spots higher than Atlanta’s. This being the offseason, though, we’ll spend a little bit of our precious energy blasting it into the sun where it belongs.