Steve Sarkisian gets a lot of criticism here, from both our writers and Falcons fans more generally. Much of it has been warranted, but some of it has not been warranted, and former players piled on pretty good over the last week. Kurt Warner may have been off-base in his criticism of Sark, for example, at least partially.
Sark, who told reporters like The Athletic’s Jason Butt that he is unbothered by Twitter-based criticism even when it’s really mean, was not above responding to Warner’s very specific and very pointed critique of his work in the red zone.
Warner tweeted that the Falcons needed to beat the Eagles’ zone defense by sending two receivers to one area to overload it. If so, Warner believed, it would be an easy touchdown.
Sarkisian was asked if this was a fair critique.
“It was bracket coverage,” Sarkisian said. “They were doubling No. 3 on the right hand side and No. 2 on the left-hand side (the inside receivers closest to the line of scrimmage). It wasn’t zone defense. I’m sorry Kurt Warner, Coach.”
Butt’s article is a great read because it pulls back the curtain a bit on Sark’s thought processes on things like running four verticals from inside the red zone (the Falcons didn’t want to fall short of it with no timeouts), his regrets (not running the football in some opportune moments), and good calls where the execution wasn’t there. It’s perfectly justified for Sark to feel a bit nettled when the quarterback play in particular was so bad on Thursday night.
That said, he’s still not immune from criticism and clearly doesn’t expect to be. The team’s red zone issues a year ago were primarily on him, and until he starts putting together a winning plan or the team starts executing at an extremely high level in spite of him, that criticism will be there. No matter how many times he turns the tables on Kurt Warner.