Matt Ryan’s career to this point can be divided into distinctive eras.
There was the 2008-2012 team with Mike Smith at the helm, a heavy focus on the run with Michael Turner, and a team buoyed by key veterans like John Abraham and Todd McClure. Then there was 2013-2014, when the team cleared out veterans and made a number of mistakes in terms of roster construction that ended Smitty’s time in Atlanta.
Then came Dan Quinn, and while there were real roster re-shufflings and coaching changes, the team was largely coherent from 2015-2018, especially on the roster side. We’re entering a different epoch in 2019, however, because of the magnitude of the changes being made here. It could also be the shortest era of Ryan’s career, if Quinn and company can’t deliver results swiftly in the face of their major changes.
Look at what Atlanta has done this offseason alone, before the new league year began:
· Fired Steve Sarkisian and hired Dirk Koetter
· Fired Marquand Manuel and replaced him with Dan Quinn
· Fired Keith Armstrong and hired Ben Kotwica
· Hired a game management and clock coach
· Confirmed they will let Tevin Coleman go
· Installed Ty Sambrailo as a starter
· Cut Brooks Reed
· Cut Robert Alford
· Cut Matt Bryant
Again, it’s difficult to overstate how significant those changes are. Quinn is staking his reputation as a defensive coach and potentially his job as a head coach on getting Vic Beasley to play up to his draft status and put this defense back on track with a new starter at cornerback, at minimum. This team is going to have to depend on Sambrailo to be better than he’s been at any point in his career aside from a handful of games in 2018 and improve their offensive line in at least one other spot. And they’ll have to hope that Giorgio Tavecchio can replace Matt Bryant, which seems like a Herculean feat to begin with.
The core of this team is still extremely talented, and health is likely to be at least nominally better for this team in 2019, which should give us some hope. But the significant change on the wind makes this a different football team, and we’re not yet sure that it’s a better one. If this isn’t going to be the final season Dan Quinn has with Matt Ryan and company, it better be.