The Falcons had, to their credit, moved swiftly and decisively to convince us that things were going to get better soon. They cleared out all their coordinators, Dan Quinn installed himself as the defensive coordinator, and the team brought back past successful offensive coordinators at offensive coordinator and tight ends coach. Those moves weren’t all universally praised—in fact, none of them were—but they were the moves of a team that had a plan it was confident in.
There’s no reason to suddenly doubt the whole thing if you weren’t already doing so, but the departure of clock and game management coach Kyle Flood is at best an annoyance and at worst the kind of move that creates major headaches for Atlanta. The team had identified a coach already on staff who had two years of experience with the Falcons and years of experience as a college head coach who could take on this role, which the team tacitly admitted was a critical one for Dan Quinn just by making the hire. Quinn’s failures as an in-game manager can sometimes feel overblown, but he’s legitimately struggled to make good decisions with his timeouts, his fourth down decisions and his time management, and such a hire was loudly demanded by fans and circumstances alike.
With Flood off to Alabama to coach the offensive line with his buddy Steve Sarkisian at the helm of the Crimson Tide’s offense, the Falcons now need to make a new hire after the coaching carousel has largely slowed. The role demands experience and a keen eye for the clock, qualifications that will take time to find, review, and vet before a hire. That means the new hire isn’t likely to arrive tomorrow unless the Falcons want to put it on the plate of an experienced coach already on staff again like, say, Mularkey or Raheem Morris. They may well do so, but it’s an unwelcome curveball for a team that moved swiftly to change and then firm up a coaching staff.
It’s worth remembering that the margin of error here does not appear to be particularly robust. Quinn just had to clear out his entire group of coordinators, and while that might have been a move that pointed to his power, it’s not one that suggests he’s going to be able to weather too many more mediocre seasons, if any. Nailing Flood’s replacement won’t be the most pivotal move of the offseason for Atlanta, but it will help to ensure that the confidence this team wants to instill in fans actually carries over into 2019 proper.