At this point, we’re assuming that Arthur Blank is going to be looking for a new head coach in a few weeks. Dan Quinn’s tenure has had some extremely bright moments, but his inability to stop the bleeding (whether in a game or in a season) is too hard to ignore. Assuming that does happen, a key question will be on the minds of Falcons fans: what kind of coach will Arthur Blank look for next?
Many fans have made some assumptions about what qualifications he may look for. I’ve seen heavy speculation that he’ll go the Sean McVay/Kyle Shanahan route, opting for a young, creative offensive mind. I’m not certain this is the case. As I see it, there are two potential lessons that Blank may take away from the Mike Smith and Dan Quinn tenures. Those two lessons could diverge into very different paths, leading Blank to vastly different coaches. Here’s how I see it.
No more defensive-minded guys
This seems to be the route many fans think Blank will go. After all, Mike Smith and Dan Quinn were brought in because of their defensive credentials. Quinn, in particular, was brought in with the expectation that he’d revamp the defense into a dominant unit like the one he coached in Seattle.
Yet, during both the Smith and Quinn tenures, the Falcons only fielded a top-10 defense twice, and both times they still weren’t great defenses (2012, 2017). The rest of the time those defenses hovered somewhere between mediocre and an unwatchable dumpster fire. Despite both men having a defensive pedigree, neither could find a defensive coordinator worth keeping around. Mike Smith had Brian Van Gorder and Mike Nolan. Dan Quinn cycled quickly through Richard Smith, Marquand Manuel and ... himself.
Blank may decide that a third go-round with a defensive-minded coach is just not tenable. With the success of guys like Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan in recent years, the trend is certainly going against hiring defensive coaches league-wide. Blank may follow suit.
No more guys without head coaching experience
This takeaway could be the surprising one. While both Smith and Quinn were defensive-minded guys, they were also first-time head coaches. Smitty consistently demonstrated an inability to effectively manage the clock and timeouts, particularly in his last two seasons. Dan Quinn also struggled with game management and his inexperience as a head coach seemed particularly emphasized by his inability to stop losing streaks or in-game collapses.
A veteran former head coach may do a far better job of managing the game and managing the locker room. Likewise, that experience could come in handy in finding other coaches to lead the offense and defense. Unlike Quinn, a veteran coach will likely not bite off more than they can chew, opting to turn over the right duties to the right guys while also setting an effective vision for the team.
With many of the Falcons losses over the years being attributable to poor decisions by the head coach, Blank may strongly prefer someone who will have a firmer grasp on the locker room and the in-game decisions. He can still get some creative minds in at offensive and defensive coordinator, so it could be the best of both worlds.
What do you think?
How do you think the next coaching search is going to play out? Will Blank favor a young, creative offensive mind or will he be looking for a stable, former head coach who has run a program before?
The Falcons next coach will be
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Young, creative offensive mind
Veteran former head coach