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If fired, who replaces Dan Quinn as interim head coach?

Quinn is rumored on his way out in Atlanta, but his replacement is anything but certain.

Atlanta Falcons v Houston Texans Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

With the news that Dan Quinn is expected to get fired this week after coaching the team to its first 0-5 start of the millennium, we now know the timeline for the move we knew was happening one way or another. Quinn’s time with the Falcons appears to be up after back-to-back-to-back disappointing seasons where the Falcons are quickly ruled out of the playoffs then thrash their way to a 7-9 season.

It is another bad start but Quinn will not be the one thrashing for wins. Who will be that coach trying to squeeze a little more juice out of this orange? That is murkier than this team’s identity.

The Falcons will be stuck pulling in someone already on the staff. The problem is that person is unclear. One of Quinn’s problems was his poor picks in coordinators (for proof, he once picked himself). So there are no clear, up-and-coming coaches who might be worth the interim spot with a chance to take over for the team in 2021.

Let’s look at the likely candidates.

Dirk Koetter

I heard the collective sighs, but we do need to acknowledge that Koetter has head coach experience and has plenty of experience with the team in his two stints. Of course, the offense has been frustratingly bland, boring, inconsistent, predictable, ineffective, and a major reason Quinn is about to be unemployed. Picking Koetter would be a clear sign that Arthur Blank is still making bad decisions.

Raheem Morris

I am a bit hopeful for Morris. Many may forget that Morris replaced Jon Gruden as head coach in Tampa Bay. His time in Tampa was even worse than Koetter’s, but Morris was in his early 30s without any pro coordinating experience. Morris has worked both with the offense and defense in his time with the Falcons, and has been in Flowery Branch since 2015. He may be just what the Falcons need even if not all the players are “youngry.”

Jeff Ulbrich

Ulbrich is not the biggest name possible, but he is very likely. A ten-year NFL veteran, Ulbrich has been the team’s linebacker coach since 2015. Ulbrich has been calling defensive plays, at least early downs, for about a year after Quinn fired himself as the defensive play-caller. The problem is that defense has not been particularly good. He coached up Deion Jones, but Jones has also disappointed the last three seasons while players like Duke Riley never looked good. The team’s current defense and roles are just a big ball of confusion. Maybe Ulbrich can streamline the defense by leaving it to Morris while Ulbrich spends his time on the head coach position. For what it’s worth, Quinn previously had Ulbrich slotted to fill in if Quinn ever got diagnosed with the coronavirus. At the same time, Quinn has been awful at picking coaches.

Greg Knapp

You may be shocked to hear that current quarterback coach Greg Knapp didn’t coach the Broncos in the early 2000s or something. Knapp has spent decades as offensive coordinator and quarterback coach in the NFL. Knapp could be a solid “bridge” quarterback who can at least use his extensive experience in the pros making some easy fixes to this team’s dysfunction. Maybe he could fire Dirk?

Freddie Falcon

With the Falcons for over 35 years, Freddie Falcon has outlasted everyone’s tenure with the organization. He must have picked up some good experience between riding those ATVs and shooting t-shirts out of guns. Like everything, it isn’t perfect. He doesn’t speak English and is frequently moulting. It would be distracting but Blank needs to swing for the fences.