Goober Pyle Posted November 19, 2019 Share Posted November 19, 2019 https://theathletic.com/1389660/2019/11/18/schultz-if-dan-quinns-return-doesnt-hinge-on-playoffs-how-low-should-falcons-set-the-bar/?source=shared-article If Dan Quinn’s future hinges on making the playoffs, there’s really no decision to make. The Falcons dug themselves a crater with a 1-7 start. Their postseason chances, listed at less than one percent by analytics sites two weeks ago, remain at less than one percent after consecutive wins over New Orleans and Carolina. Biblical plagues have yet to intervene. So if this isn’t about whether Quinn will coach a playoff game this season, it’s about what would persuade owner Arthur Blank to bring Quinn back. Some around the NFL believe the bar could be as low as a 7-9 record. The idea is that Blank’s criteria will be more about the 6-2 second half than the full-season résumé. My personal view is hiring and firing decisions should never be based on a small sample. But should the macro view include Quinn’s two playoff seasons or just the past two? “I just want to get into this week,” Quinn said Monday when asked how he should be judged. “I recognize it’s a bottom-line business. There are consequences when you do well, and there are consequences when you don’t. But I would just rather spend time on how can we get there and play like we’re capable of playing. As far as being judged on where you’re at, I recognize it’s a results business.” When asked if he has been told by Blank where the bar for his return sits, Quinn said, “No, and we talk weekly about the team, about where we’re at. We talk about the team a lot. But we’ve never gone further than that.” Quinn also balked at referencing the past two wins as a turnaround, saying, “I don’t know that even qualifies as a streak. That would be an awesome Christmas question for you to ask. Or at least give us to Thanksgiving.” He gets points for perspective. Many have speculated about Quinn’s future. But nobody really knows what Blank is thinking, in part because even Blank’s view changes. Four weeks ago, after a 37-10 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, I wrote a column about the then 1-6 Falcons, headlined “Dan Quinn has failed, and his firing from Falcons appears inevitable.” It was a column written based not only on my own view but that of others in and around the organization. When asked if Quinn would be fired the next day, Blank told The Athletic: “No. But that doesn’t change the record. It is what it is. It’s just very disappointing for everybody.” Following a loss to Seattle before the Falcons’ bye week, Blank told to an assemblage of media members in a hallway at Mercedes-Benz Stadium that he would “take the next couple of weeks (to) evaluate where we are and whatever decision we make it will be for the right reasons and long term.” Many logically concluded that if the Falcons were blown out in their next game at New Orleans, Quinn would be gone. But they won as two-touchdown underdogs and have played their two best games of the season the past two weeks. So where do things stand now with Quinn? Here are some thoughts: • Blank likes Quinn. Blank’s emotions are different than they were during the final days with ex-coaches Dan Reeves and Bobby Petrino. Blank is not yet at the “must fire” line like he was with Mike Smith, whom he also liked. Intellectually, Blank understands if he keeps Quinn after consecutive non-playoff seasons, regardless of the second-half record, there is going to be blowback and a potential financial ripple effect from fans. But it might take another humiliating loss to push Blank over the line, at least before the end of the season. • Blank understands he has a shrinking window to take advantage of having Matt Ryan and Julio Jones on the roster. Ryan will be 35 next season, Jones 31. If Blank gives Quinn one more season to fix this and he fails, that means a new regime would come in before the 2021 season, when Ryan is 36 and Jones is 32. The question becomes: Would starting with an entirely new coaching staff with a possibly new philosophy, terminology and schemes in 2020 immediately get the Falcons closer to a Super Bowl or further away? Blank hasn’t determined that, yet. • The Falcons are a different team at 3-7 than they were at 1-7. But they’re still 3-7. Quinn carries responsibility for the start because he has been at the center of personnel and coaching staff decisions, and he wasn’t able to get players to perform to their capabilities in the first eight weeks, which is a coach’s primary job. The fact his shuffle of assistants has positively impacted the defense the past two weeks is both praise-worthy and an indictment. Mistakes were made to begin with. Raheem Morris probably should have been moved back to defense after the 2016 season, when offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan left for San Francisco and defensive coordinator Richard Smith was fired. Quinn instead promoted Marquand Manuel to the DC position. He was fired two years later. • To his credit, Quinn actually recognized after five games that his decision to call defensive plays wasn’t working. To be clear: The Falcons are not 2-0 since Quinn stopped calling plays. It was the Arizona game in Week 6 when he first turned over most of the decisions to assistants, led by linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich. It wasn’t an immediate success. The Falcons lost the next three games to the Cardinals (34-33), Rams (27-10) and Seahawks (27-20, with a second-half rally from 24-0 falling short). Blank isn’t losing anything by holding onto Quinn right now. Potential replacements, whether currently in the NFL, college or sitting the season out, aren’t going anywhere. But Blank will have to react soon. College coaches will begin making career decisions after the regular season in two weeks. Potential candidates will have conversations with possible assistants for their next staff as they prepare for interviews. Other jobs will soon open. That means competition for top candidates will increase. So the decision is nearing. But since Blank’s “couple of weeks” comment, the view has changed. If only slightly. rounz 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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