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A Jason La Canfora Article From Today Mentions Shanahan As Quinn's Choice.

Flip Wilson

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Dan Quinn might never experience another remarkable comeback like the Seahawksproduced Sunday for the rest of his career. For his stellar defense to allow just 19 points to a vibrant Green Bay offense on a day the Seahawks had five turnovers and allow Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense to eventually win in overtime despite trailing 16-0 at halftime and despite trailing by 12 into the fourth quarter, was as amazing a job audition as a coordinator could hope for.

It further cemented him as the man Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and his advisors most want to hire to lead that team as their next head coach. And, because of some outdated NFL rules governing the hiring of coaches, it also may have dealt a negative blow to that same head coaching candidacy.

Had Seattle not pulled off that overtime win, and Quinn's season was over, sources said the Falcons would already be in negotiations with him. Instead, Blank has a grueling decision to make, agonizing on whether it makes sense to wait until after the Super Bowl -- two more weeks -- to hire Quinn, or whether he should instead land the other finalist, Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, right now.

Here's the rub: While the Falcons wouldn't ostensibly have any competition to land Quinn two weeks from now, with no contract able to be struck, there always comes trepidation and uncertainty. And, most importantly, there are no guarantees that Quinn will be able to put together the staff he covets two weeks from now, given the NFL's regulations allowing teams to block coordinator candidates under contract and with many of the top coordinators right now already closing in on jobs elsewhere.

The market for offensive coordinators is the real issue (with Austin and Quinn both defensive-minded coaches). What makes one more attractive will be his ability to link up with a proven and innovative offensive coordinator to help improve or stabilize that side of the ball. This year is of particular concern as, as of Sunday night, the list of teams needing offensive coordinators included the Falcons, Broncos (with Adam Gase to depart), Bears,Jaguars, 49ers, Raiders, Browns, and Jets (sources said the team is not fully locked into Chan Gailey and is sniffing around on other options), all out there looking, and the Ravensabout to enter the fray as well as soon as their offensive coordinator, Gary Kubiak, takes the head coaching job in Denver (which will happen shortly sources said). Add in theTexans -- who didn't really have an offensive coordinator under Bill O'Brien last year but could add one in 2015 (Doug Marrone is very likely to resurface there) -- and the demand even further outpaces the supply.

Quinn's top choice for his offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, is coveted by so many other teams that could hire him immediately. Would Shanahan be willing to wait two more weeks to see if the Quinn deal comes together? Austin, I'm told, could bring Gase, highly thought of by the Falcons, with him right now. But with Gase being sought for interviews by the Jags and Rams and others, the longer you wait to land Austin the better the chance Gase goes elsewhere as well. The Falcons have plenty to mull, as you can imagine.

And if Gase and Shanahan and guys like Marc Trestman get hired soon -- and expect a wild flurry activity from down at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., this week with so many jobs still unfilled -- the timing gets even trickier. It takes a village to build a winner and while the head coach is paramount, he can he buttressed or undermined by the staff around him, and teams have become increasingly sensitive to the import of assembling the right mix of men and being positioned to do so as soon as necessary in a hyper-competitive marketplace.

The Ravens and Falcons -- with the chance to compete for a playoff spot and work with an accomplished young quarterback -- offer the best jobs available, but the allure of Matt Ryan will only work so far on Atlanta's behalf. People will only wait so long. And I can assure you, people associated with the team are anything but happy about the way this has played out.

No assistant coach has performed better than Quinn as he is poised for a possible Super Bowl repeat, has made an outstanding impression on the five teams he interviewed with during Seattle's bye week -- going on a month ago, now -- and was in essence viewed as a finalist for all of them (there were only six total vacancies at that point if you recall) and yet he might be the person left without a seat in this high-stakes game of musical chairs.

Through no fault of his own and through no lack of intent from Atlanta even after all these weeks.

At some point soon the competition committee or the management council or whoever needs to revisit this process. As it stands now, it's not fair to the coaches who are currently enjoying the most success, it is not fair to the owners and general managers trying to assemble the best staff possible and it creates additional hurdles at a time when the fight to land coordinators is massive. Something has to give.

I've discussed this topic with Bill Cowher many times over the years, and he's among those eager for a rule change here. Cowher has been on all sides of this -- as a rising coordinator himself, as the head coach of a playoff team that had coordinators being sought elsewhere -- and he, like me, thinks it should be allowable for teams to agree to terms with coaches during the playoffs pending the culmination of their season. I don't see why that is any more of a "distraction" than playing through the playoffs with a coordinator who is clearly a candidate others want to sign.

And, if you have the coach agreeing in principle to the deal, it makes it much easier to then get top assistants to go ahead and do the same thing rather than be stuck in limbo waiting to see if that head coaching deal actually comes together. And while some complain that if a coordinator knew he was going to be a head coach after the season, he might be too tied up in assembling that new staff and not focused enough on his current craft, but that seems farfetched to me.

Cowher has been among those championing the unfairness of how this postseason has played out for Quinn, and, well, he has a **** of a lot more clout than I do, so here's what he thinks:

"It's unfortunate that coaches are penalized by winning," Cowher told me. "There is such a demand for signing assistant coaches that it puts a lot of pressure on the organizations. A coach under contract while still in the playoffs is not a distraction. They got there because they understand the importance of finishing the journey.

"I've seen it from all sides, first of all, when they do an interview they're giving them their assistants (who the coach would like to sign), so let the organization contact those guys for him while he's coaching his team. They let him do the interview and he's giving them the names of the guys the organization should hire, so they are there to pick the best candidate and do their homework for him while he focuses on the game. There's more anxiety not knowing then there is knowing you have the job."

Amen to that, coach. Amen to that.

It seems a little bizarre to me that a wacky two-point conversion late in a game being played in Seattle, a few thousand miles away from Atlanta, could end up having a huge impact on who is the next coach of the Falcons. And make no mistake, I think Austin is an outstanding candidate and ready and deserving of a job. He's worthy. But in the end, the timing and result of games shouldn't be playing this great a role in the process. Hopefully, soon, it won't anymore.

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