The Saints are the very last test for this Atlanta Falcons team. It’s not because the Saints are the toughest team left on the schedule—though they very nearly are—or because they’re uniquely suited to challenge this particularly shaky squad. It’s because after a bye week, after coaching staff shuffles, and with the Saints themselves being both good and healthy, there is simply nothing else to point to if Atlanta gets steamrolled here.
It’s why so many analysts and reporters—Jeff Schultz at The Athletic chief among them—have recently opined that the Falcons might move on from Quinn if this Week 10 game winds up being a bloodbath. The Falcons have insisted, from the owner down to the players, that it’s about translating good practices and good planning to gameday results. With an additional week to step back and think and some fixes, however limited, Atlanta’s got to put an improved performance forward, or the last possible glimmer of hope for this season is gone.
It should be already, if we’re being frank, but when you’re in the building giving up is next to an impossibility.
That makes this game a fairly straightforward one. If the Falcons pull off a huge surprise and win, or keep this one close, it feeds into the idea that execution and communication have been bigger roadblocks than a lack of motivation or poor coaching. After this team has passed up chances from 0-1 to 1-7 to install an interim coach and see what comes of it, that should be enough to buy Quinn more time. If they get blown out yet again, this time against their most hated rival, I think it’s fair to suggest that even Arthur Blank isn’t going to see change on the wind. Either way, we’re not talking about Quinn being the coach of this football team in 2020, but we’re still trying to understand how these final eight games are going to go.
Matt Ryan is one of the many Falcons players who doesn’t want to see Quinn go, which in theory should add one more point of motivation on Sunday.
It sucks. It sucks. You understand it’s a production-based business. But he’s a hell of a coach and as consistent a person as I’ve ever been around. That’s the part — as players, you want to find a way to make these plays because you love the guy. That’s the part you take personally. He’s given so much to this cause.
Arthur Blank clearly wants Dan Quinn to pull off a miracle, and failing that, to get enough out of this team to justify keeping him around until at least the end of the season. This game should either make that possible for at least another week or end the era outright.