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Steve Wyche: Arthur Blank ‘hates firing’ coaches and top brass

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“Uncle Artie” treats the Falcons a bit too much like a family affair.

Atlanta Falcons v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons shocked all of us by announcing both Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff would return in 2020. Surely, heads must roll after a second disappointing season where the Falcons fail to compete for the playoffs. At least in 2018, the staff had just made back-to-back playoff runs and were dealt with an insane number of injuries.

In 2019, the playoffs turned into a long-forgotten memory. The injuries never came, but the results were the same. Things looked up more recently with some big wins and an improved defense after a coaching shuffle.

Who was to pay for two down seasons, poor player development, bad contracts, and inconsistent play? Shockingly, none of the team’s top decision-makers. Fans have previously questioned Blank’s unwavering dedication to underperforming coaches and general managers.

Thomas Dimitroff seems to be on the hot seat very frequently. The team is forced to keep some truly disappointing players because cap mismanagement means the team cannot afford to cut those players, let alone replace them. Above anything else, Dimitroff publicly promised to fix the offensive line. After $50+ million in new contracts and two first-round picks, the line is still a long way from reaching their potential.

Dan Quinn made a bold move this offseason by firing all of his coordinators. The replacements were failures, highlighted by Quinn taking over as defensive coordinator. It was a major risk that had to pay off for Quinn to keep his job.

It failed, but Quinn will return. The offensive line was not fixed, but Dimitroff will return. Blank will stick by both people. Steve Wyche, formerly of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and now at the NFL mothership, had some info on Blank’s thinking.

We questioned earlier if the new reporting structure was meant to insulate Blank from Quinn and Dimitroff.

It is interesting to see Rich McKay more involved in this process. Blank has frequently toyed with the typical management structure. He is placing McKay between himself and Dimitroff and Quinn, perhaps for better accountability. As if you did not realize it with McKay still involved, Blank sometimes has trouble firing people. Perhaps this decision will make it easier to fire both if 2020 turns out like 2018 and 2019.

It makes sense to include a “football guy” in this process, and take some off of Blank’s plate. It is unclear if Blank had too much influence, too much of a personal connection, or not enough football knowledge to disagree with excuses about his underperforming team.

It seems likely the new structure is intended to, in part, make Quinn and Dimitroff easier to fire if the team has another down season. That is assuming Blank does not keep them around in new positions, just like Rich McKay.

More worrisome is Blank’s inability to move on and these unusual management structures that fail to work for long. Can the Falcons really get it together when there are so many questions at the very top of the organization?