In about a month’s time, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank is going to have to make a decision.
The outcome of that decision is easy to guess, but it is one of the hardest he’ll have to make. Do you fire Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff after two lackluster seasons with one of the more talented rosters in football?
For many of you, the answer is yes, and you’re wondering why it hasn’t happened already. The team’s 1-7 skid to the end of October was horrendous, but Blank stayed the course with his staff and saw them win a delightful victory on the road in New Orleans and another on the road in Carolina. Maybe the team had figured it out?
The clock struck midnight and the team turned back into a pumpkin, though. After two bad home losses, Blank knows that decision is coming and there’s no grand revival to prevent it.
Firing Quinn and Dimitroff are the popular, and most likely, options right now. It stings that both of these guys have proven they can win (DQ) and draft well (TD), but have proven to be deeply inconsistent in doing both. I’ll forever stand by the idea that Quinn is a good coach and excellent leader, and him winning a road playoff game the season after 28-3 says more than I’ll ever need to type.
But this is a results business, as they say, and what he’s done to fix the 2018 lag has not worked out well at al. Hiring Dirk Koetter and having himself take over the defensive play calling were, in retrospect, unwise and have led to some uninspired coaching and play — the kind of uninspired coaching and play that leads to six-game losing streaks. Six-game losing streaks—and more losses on top of those—tend to lead to jobs being lost.
Dimitroff might just be someone who has overstayed his welcome in a job where it’s difficult to last forever. He was incredibly fortunate the 2012 draft didn’t tank him after Mike Smith was fired, and after what looked like a hot start in 2015 and 2016, he’s merely fared okay during the DQ era with big hits and big misses in both the draft and free agency.
Changing the guard is probably what’s best and what’s coming, but it working out will never be a sure bet.
Maybe they’ll nail the coaching and general manager hire — I sure hope so. It’d be nice to actually want to watch the Falcons on Sundays again, rather than feel obligated to for fandom’s sake. We all just want this team to finally win a stupid Super Bowl.
But given the way it’s gone in the past, do we feel confident in that? The Falcons have been better than ever before during the last decade-plus and they’ve still fallen short, time and time again. Expecting them to get it right this time, after all the times they haven’t quite managed to do so, might be ripping off the Band-Aid to find out that nothing’s healed.
You might rally for the changes coming, and certainly, you have a right to be frustrated.
But be wary of fool’s gold and false hope. The only honest answer for the future of the Atlanta Falcons is we’ll see. There are reasons to be optimistic, and there are reasons to be concerned. There are reasons to clean house, just as, yes, there are reasons (safety being a key one) to give this iteration of the team one more chance to make things right.
The only thing I know is the grass ain’t always greener on the other side. I hope it is if we go there. I’m a little worried some only assume it will be. After all, we’re not a fan base that historically gets rewarded by assumptions.