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Falcons roundtable: When does the inevitable happen?

It’s not a question of if any longer, it’s a question of when.

Cincinnati Bengals v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

It seems a bit macabre to try to guess when the Falcons are going to move on from their head coach, but it’s also impossible to ignore that particular specter right now. Dan Quinn’s Falcons are off to an 0-3 start after consecutive 7-9 seasons, having made history with back-to-back blown 15+ point leads, and his seat is hotter than a PlayStation 2 trying to boot up the new Madden. Arthur Blank’s curious decision to keep the coaching staff more or less intact heading into 2020 has backfired, and the only plausible scenarios for saving Quinn’s job involve this team winning 10+ of their next 13 games, which itself seems completely implausible.

With that in mind, when will the Falcons make the move? Will they wait until the end of the season in the hopes of a miracle turnaround that never comes, or will they take action now to appease a fanbase out for blood? We had a few of our writers weigh in, and we’re looking for you to do the same in the comments.

Post-Week 4

I favor Jeff Schultz at The Athletic’s interpretation, even if expecting Arthur Blank to make an early season firing is playing against history. If Atlanta goes 0-4 in their first four games, if the team expects to put some fans in seats in Week 5, and if the NFC South is plainly out of reach at that point (I’m talking about no 2-2 division leader with two 1-3 teams hovering above Atlanta), he’ll have to be tempted to do something to make fans feel better about the product on the field. Green Bay is a game I’ve had penciled in as a loss forever, and I can’t see the Falcons beating a team that looked pretty crisp and efficient against New Orleans. I think we could see a change anytime after that point.

Blank could well decide there’s nothing to be gained from firing Quinn this early, at midseason, or even until the end of the year, if he thinks this team is already dead in the water and moving on from the head coach won’t accomplish anything. But he’ll have to know that fans will pin the lost season on him at that point, and he’ll have to be able to put up with a lot of embarrassment between now and then, given the way things are going. - Dave Choate

Bye week or later

I think the team won’t make moves until the bye, at least. Arthur Blank remembers the experience of having Bobby Petrino sneak out of town under cover of darkness and the instability that results from an in-season coaching change. But the reality is that what we’ve seen from the Falcons this year isn’t unfamiliar. I like Quinn a great deal as a person, but I can’t make excuses for this on-field performance. It’s not due to an unusual offseason — even though it was the weirdest of our lifetimes. It’s not due to injuries, although the team has plenty, and that does suck. The reality is that this team has the same flaws we’ve seen in 2018 and 2019, and whenever Quinn does actually get fired, it’ll be past due. - Jeanna Thomas

Just hard to tell

Unless the Falcons can convincingly beat Green Bay on the road and (for now) cancel the Dan Quinn apocalypse, DQ is looking at a bewildering 0-4 start. That’d be the worst for the Falcons since 1999 (before Arthur Blank owned the team). You could see a spanking at Lambeau having Blank act fast and insert an interim coach before things get out of hand, but the support DQ has in that locker room is the variable we all have to consider. They have his back, win or lose, at least publicly. If the team stinks either way, one wonders if Blank would grit his teeth until the end of the year and just clean house then. But after how the Mike Smith situation went, Blank may just want to get it over with so his coaching search can begin immediately. Regardless, it’s going to happen at some point, barring a miracle. - Cory Woodroof

End of the season

It seems inevitable that we’re going to clean house after this year, but why do it now? There are a lot of reasons why it makes sense to make a change mid-season, but I’m not sure Blank will consider them. Sometimes, you use a change like this to evaluated existing coaches on the roster, but many of these guys have already shuffled around and the performance of this team has only gotten worse. You may make a change hoping it will spark the team to play better, but whoever takes over is likely part of the problem too. I want a change to happen now, but I am not convinced it’s going to happen. Barring an implosion like we’ve never seen before (which I can’t rule out), I think DQ is here to stay for at least this season. God help us if we finish 7-9 yet again. - David Walker

After Week 4

There are too many unusual things happening at once for me to think Blank will let Dan Quinn hold onto the team until the end of the season. First, it is hard to fire someone midseason and let the fans know the season is a wash. However, it does not look like there will be a concern regarding empty stadiums considering the pandemic, so fan enthusiasm this season is not as important. Second, Dan Quinn is messing up at a historic pace. This is not, say, Mike Smith’s putrid 2014 defense or the equally bad Jim Mora defense back in 2006. Both were bad but not historically bad. Neither of those teams were the first in league history to play so incompetently (right after playing so well, showing the talent and ability is present).

The Packers are almost certainly going to embarrass the Falcons on Monday Night Football in front of the rest of the country. It should be the final nail in the coffin for Dan Quinn. - Matt Chambers