As we all wait with baited breath for Black Monday and if the Atlanta Falcons really are going to slam the reset button on the franchise, it’s easy to know what we all want.
Most of Dan Quinn’s tenure, with the exception for one special season, has seen his high-power offense underachieve to some degree. Once Kyle Shanahan figured things out in 2016, the team skyrocketed to historic levels of play. The other seasons this team, well, didn’t.
As soon as Shanahan left, Quinn brought in Steve Sarkisian, who was deeply inconsistent, and then after Sark was let go, he brought back Dirk Koetter, who has been uninspired and unable to revive the Falcons run game of 2016.
One of the reasons 2019 has been so abysmal (save for that glorious Saints game and trashing the Panthers twice) has been the offense’s inability to keep Matt Ryan upright and utilize creative concepts to generate big plays and consistent scoring.
Sometimes, the team’s talent bursts through. Sometimes, not even an offense that boasted Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Austin Hooper, Devonta Freeman and Mohamed Sanu at the same time could muster more than a first down. The team can’t spend so much money and draft capital on a unit to just sputter like this one has. It needs to be, at the least, really good.
If Quinn is let go, I’ll be a bit bummed, but I’ll always feel his undoing was shouldering the burden of having to replace Shanahan’s offense. His effort to build an elite defense never panned out, but if he had found someone to run the offense to close the maximization that Shanny did, it might not have mattered as much. His failings are what they are, but they do highlight the need in today’s NFL to have an offensive-minded person at the top.
A team like the Falcons could thrive with consistent, creative play calling. You’re not guaranteed a Super Bowl-capable team every season, but you can harness the capabilities of guys like Ryan, Jones, Ridley, hopefully Hooper, maybe Freeman at your disposal. And regardless of the unit’s general ineffectiveness this season, you’ve still got a pretty darn good offensive line on paper with Jake Mattews, Alex Mack, Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary for 2020.
As long as they figure out a way to bring back Hoop, the team’s offense can be great at any minute next season. The pieces are there and have been all season, sans some injury problems here and there. Koetter didn’t use them as well as he did in 2012 this season, and it’s been a major bugaboo for the team’s 2019 failures.
If Blank goes coach shopping this January, may he find one of offensive background and creative potential.
We’ve seen Patriots OC Josh McDaniels and Baylor head coach Matt Rhule rumored for the Birds thus far, and though rumors in December amount to Monopoly money in January, maybe very light dots are being connected for a potential direction for the head coaching job should a change be made.
Names like Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley, Saints OC Pete Carmichael, former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, Ravens OC Greg Roman, 49ers run game coordinator Matt McDaniel, Vikings OC Kevin Stefanski and maybe even Vikings assistant Gary Kubiak (*everyone at attention*) and more could also pop up for this side of the NFL candidate pool.
We won’t take time here to try and find the right pick—it’s a little early for that, still—but any of those guys would be more promising than the future the Falcons face on offense without changes.
The team needs to really think about touchdowns if they make a coaching change. More stagnant offense is unacceptable for this roster, and a new offensive focus at the top could help amend that and even get the team back into the conversation for great offenses in the NFL.