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On Rookie Head Coaches


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For obvious reasons, there has been a lot of discussion recently about whether Dan Quinn is or will be the head coach the Falcons need to (finally) take the team to the next level. At the beginning of the season, this seemed like a no brainer; he had led the team to a 5-0 record, and the team looked like it was feeding off of his energy. Even with the underlying signs of distress - e.g., lack of pass rush, consistently needing to come back in games, etc. - it looked like this a was a guy who could bring much needed agressiveness to the team, and that we might, eventually, have the kind of enviable defenses we'd seen in Seattle for the past couple years. Then the brakes fell off, we lost 3 of 4, and just the opposite seems true: that he has no ability to adjust, and that he's overmatched and outclassed. So, which, if either, is true? A couple thoughts.

1. As it turns out, coaching in the NFL is not unlike many professions. There is a learning curve. A steep one. The league's history is littered with coaches who did not find instant success, only to find great success later. Early failure is not a sure-fire sign that a coach cannot or will not learn and adapt, become better at his profession, and eventually develop and hone the skills necessary to be great. It is silly to assume otherwise.

2. NFL history is also littered with (many more) coaches who, despite plenty of time and plenty of chances, never get better. They just flounder and flop, making the same mistakes over and over, or adapting but making different and sometimes worse mistakes going forward. They sap organizations that, for many years, helplessly wait for these coaches to improve, to no avail. Sometimes it's abject failure. Sometimes just (even worse) persistent mediocrity.

3. In both cases, the only absolute way to know under which category the coach will fall is to give the coach time. That's not to say there are no early indicators. Some coaches are just flat morons, and that is apparent very early. Others show signs of brilliance, but clealry need refinement. Most, however, fall somewhere in the middle. Moreover, many of the things that might provide clarity are necessarily shrouded from public view. For example, Coach Quinn recently stood by his decision to kick the field goal on fourth and goal from (maybe) the 2 yard line. If he genuinely cannot see the flaw in that decision, and the thinking that led to it, we may have a dilemma. Problematically, we don't really know. The nature of the business is that it is almost impossible for a newish coach to publicly admit mistake. It's much easier for an established vet. If he genuinely thinks that was the right call, I'd probably have long term concerns. If he, like many successful and smart people, is actually self evaluating and understands his mistakes, even if he cannot admit them publicly, then we may be in good shape.

In conclusion, we're kind of left wanting. Quinn may be a colossal failure. Or, he may be the exact right coach we need. Either way, the only thing that really provides clarity is time. We have to wait and see, at least for a couple seasons, whether he will learn and adjust, or crash and burn. I'm hoping, obviously, for the former, but the numbers suggest the inevitable latter. Still, I will optimistically hope that Quinn is that special breed who can honestly evaluate his peformance, make adjustments, improve, and eventually take us where we all want to go.

Go Falcons!

Edited by BrockSamson
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In conclusion, we're kind of left wanting. Quinn may be a colossal failure. Or, he may be the exact right coach we need. Either way, the only thing that really provides clarity is time. We have to wait and see, at least for a couple seasons, whether he will learn and adjust, or crash and burn. I'm hoping, obviously, for the former, but the numbers suggest the inevitable latter. Still, I will optimistically hope that Quinn is that special breed who can honestly evaluate his peformance, make adjustments, improve, and eventually take us where we all want to go.

Dam bro you could have just posted that.

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You are absolutely correct...only a couple more years will show which way the arrow will point. My hope is that Quinn is not too stubborn to 'bend' his system when necessary, and not be so blindly loyal to assistants to replace them if they aren't getting the job done after a reasonable time. If he is flexible I those areas he can be a very good NFL HC.

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9 games in..... C'mon man.......you don't even need to be worrying over anything like this so soon. As far kicking the field goal, even though I thought it was the wrong decision at the time, I respect Quinn for sticking to his guns on it and not letting fans and the media convince him he did the wrong thing. He thought it was right and it blew up in his face but he would have looked like a genius had it played out as he expected.

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Jim Mora Jr led the Falcons to a 6-2 record.. then the team ended the season 8-8. If the same thing happens to Quinn... is that a failure?

I would say yes, look at the record and strength of the teams were playing and we always seem to be facing their back up QB. We ought to be stomping a mud hole dry through them we have a descent talent to win 90% of the game this season schedule.
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The jury is still out on Quinn .I don't mind that he stuck to his guns about the field goal.He's a defensive minded coach who believes in his defense,The way the offense looked against the49ers it was doubtful that we score.The main challenge facing Quinn right now is getting Ryan and Shanahan and the rest of the offense on the same page.This is imperative if we are to finish the last 7 games with a BANG instead of a wimper .Can he do it ??? That remains to be seen.

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