The season that followed was ballyhooed as a potential soar, and it ended in injury and disaster (2013, 2018). Changes were made in both respective offseasons (2014, 2019) to toughen up the trenches and play meaner, and neither effort did much of anything to improve glaring weakness on the lines.
Mike Smith was at the helm the first time this happened and lost his job due to the fall. Many assume Dan Quinn will suffer the same fate come Black Monday for the team’s 2019 failures.
Is it that automatic, though?
The team’s decision not to fire Quinn at the bye week despite a 1-7 start and going into a key road game against the Saints (just for pride’s sake) speaks louder than I think many of us considered.
It might just be to save face for the inevitable decision at season’s end (remember the hiring firm fiasco with Smith), or it could be because Blank just doesn’t want another interim coach situation after the Bobby Petrino debacle.
But, and just go with us here for a second, what if Blank wants to see if Quinn really can turn the ship around?
He had this type of success last year when the team rallied to a 3-0 finish in latter December (against lesser competition, to be fair) and showed some fight (and, grumble, lost some draft standing).
Consider this: Quinn is 12-6 in December as a head coach (two of those Decembers holding five games in one month), a pretty strong resume for strong finishes.
With the quality this team has, it begs us to ask the question: what happens if the team does what it historically does and wins some games to close out the year?
Would that be good enough for Blank to justify having a coach around he clearly wants to give every chance possible to turn this ship around? Is anything good enough to keep him from changing the staff as it is? It’s sincerely hard to tell.
We haven’t a clue what awaits GM Thomas Dimitroff, who has had his job since 2008 and who seems to be safe whenever we think he’s not. But Quinn has never had a general manager of his choice, and we wonder if that’s something Blank notices, too.
This isn’t to say Quinn is safer than he’s not. He’s the leader of the team, and the team is horrible right now. If they stay this way, he’s very much not going to be the Falcons head coach next year.
But Blank is a merciful owner and showed a major sign of public confidence in Quinn, regardless of reasoning, by keeping him at the helm past the bye week.
The Falcons’ next two months could go many ways, but one direction I think a lot of us haven’t really considered is up. What if that’s something that happens? What if this team gets better?
Could Quinn save his job and return to the team next season to once again try to fix what ails this team?
It’s worth at least considering as we enter the second half of the season.