Before entering the season, the bye week was always a potential for change. Dan Quinn had come off a bad season, fired all the top coordinators, and took on even more responsibility. There was no one to blame but Quinn if the changes did not pay off. In fact, the existence of former head coaches Dirk Koetter, Raheem Morris, and Mike Mularkey give the team a backup option in case of disaster.
Well, disaster is here.
Ian Rapoport reports that, as you may have assumed, Arthur Blank is considering firing Quinn at the bye week.
According to people familiar with Blank’s thinking, the owner wants to see progress over the next three weeks before the Week 9 bye or changes could come, with Quinn among them. Traditionally, Blank does not embrace midseason coaching changes. Despite the slow start to this season, the philosophy of judging at the end of the season is still the preferred approach.
Blank has been skeptical of in-season changes since the Bobby Petrino debacle created a lasting disarray. However, that was over a decade ago and Blank is certainly getting tired of watching his top players wasted.
Quinn has an uphill battle. Today he is on the road against the Arizona Cardinals, then faces the seemingly unstoppable Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks at home. Today is his only clear chance at a win. Per Rapsheet, there will be “some serious discussions” regarding Quinn if he can’t do much the next three weeks.
Blank will certainly also be looking at the Washington Redskins. If that team can battle back after firing Jay Gruden, maybe the Falcons could salvage the season.
Before Mike Smith was ultimately fired, there were similar rumors that Smith could save his job by making the playoffs. The Falcons, of course, imploded against the Carolina Panthers instead. This feels similar, except these Falcons have performed so much worse than Smith’s 2014 squad.
The potential structure is still to be determined as there is no defensive coordinator. Morris has been with the team the longest and has experience on both sides of the ball. For better or worse, Koetter will likely remain the offensive coordinator. Perhaps he will be given the freedom to run his own scheme instead of this Kyle Shanahan-esque hybrid without any identity.
The most likely defensive coordinator is probably senior assistant Bob Sutton, defensive passing game coordinator Jerome Henderson, or linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich. Henderson and Ulbrich have been with the team since Quinn was hired, while Sutton was recently hired to manage game-day decisions.
The message here is clear to Quinn: Win now or get fired.