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Breaking down Arthur Blank’s options on Dan Quinn, Thomas Dimitroff


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https://theathletic.com/1481434/2019/12/22/schultz-breaking-down-arthur-blanks-options-on-dan-quinn-thomas-dimitroff/

The roof was closed for the Falcons’ final home game of the season Sunday, given the rain and 40-degree temperatures outside. But the lure of climate-controlled coziness did little to add to the attraction. Tickets could be had for the cost of a couple of UnHappy Meals. At least one-third of the seats inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium remained empty.

NFL philosophy: If a team goes 6-2 in the second half of the season but nobody was watching, does it make a sound with the owner?

The Falcons dumped Jacksonville 24-12. That means that since a 1-7 first half, which dropped the Falcons off the radar with a majority of the sports populace, they have gone 5-2 going into next week at Tampa Bay. Everything is suddenly going right. The defense is playing for Raheem Morris the way it didn’t play for Dan Quinn (the defensive coordinator). Offensive line play has improved. Julio Jones is an alien. Vic Beasley, who has 6.5 sacks in the past seven games, is suddenly so good that an Atlanta sports talk radio guy may have to get a tattoo of the player’s face on his ***.

What does Falcons owner Arthur Blank think of all of it? Good question. It’s believed he is leaning a certain way on the futures of Quinn (the head coach) and general manager Thomas Dimitroff, but nobody can be certain which way that is. Blank was leaning toward firing Quinn at 1-7, but Blank held off booking the news conference room after road victories in New Orleans and Carolina.

Since the turnaround, the owner has taken notice of players speaking up on Quinn’s behalf. But if the second half of the season has made it clear the Falcons had the talent to win, shouldn’t Quinn pay for the first half that submarined the season?

The Falcons are expected to hold a news conference next Monday when Blank will announce his decision. He has four options. In terms of odds, there’s not a lot separating the four. But I’m listing these in what I consider the order of probability, based on just gut feeling:

Keep Quinn and Dimitroff

If Blank reaches that decision, his talking points would center on the Falcons going 6-2 or 5-3 in the second half, including road victories over New Orleans, Carolina and San Francisco. He also would point to the significant improvement on defense, stemming in part from Quinn’s decision to step back as the defensive coordinator and shifting Morris from coaching the wide receivers to the secondary.

There’s a major risk in that decision. It would mean Blank is giving more weight to the second half of the season than the first half, when expectations were high. It would mean ignoring consecutive non-playoff seasons and a consistent slide since 2016. Quinn and Dimitroff effectively would be given one year to make amends.

Blank hasn’t hesitated to make changes in the past. He took personnel decisions away from then-general manager Rich McKay, whom Blank hired away from Tampa Bay. He has fired three head coaches, Dan Reeves, Jim Mora and Mike Smith, and he likely would have gone down that same road with Bobby Petrino if the invertebrate hadn’t quit.

But Blank likes Quinn on a personal level more than he ever has a head coach. Blank also knows Quinn went 29-19 with two playoff berths and a Super Bowl berth in his first three seasons. Blank also still retains respect for Dimitroff and the immediate impact he had on his franchise.

Fire Quinn and Dimitroff

There’s a belief by many that the coach and general manager should be linked because they’re partners are personnel decisions, and while Dimitroff obviously knows more about personnel come draft time, Quinn has final say on the roster.

The idea in firing both is simple: Atlanta should have been a playoff team this season, barring another catastrophic string of injuries. No excuses. To extend these two another season runs the risk of next season being no better as the Matt Ryan/Julio Jones window nears closing. Ryan would be 36 in two years, Jones 32.

If Blank gives Quinn and Dimitroff one more season, but it doesn’t work, he effectively would be forecasting an organization blowout in 2021 — front office, coaching staff and an entirely new direction in personnel. But if Blank fires both, it’s because he believes new leadership is needed and maybe there’s still a Super Bowl contender in the near future under some of this mess.

It also would mean there’s a job candidate out there the owner believes can make a difference. Feel free to speculate.

Keep Quinn, fire Dimitroff

Blank pondered making a change at general manager when he fired Smith. Dimitroff was retained in part because Quinn expressed an interest in working with him during the interview process, but Blank restructured football operations so each man reported to him.

There also were brief discussions about Dimitroff’s future after the 2018 season. Blank again decided not to make a change, opting to attribute the Falcons’ 7-9 season mostly to injuries. It was an easy out.

Dimitroff will get most of the blame for the decision to bring Beasley back for a fifth season at $12.8 million, even if Quinn also believed on some level that his own skills as a defensive line coach and coordinator could elevate Beasley’s game. And again, despite Quinn and Dimitroff branding themselves as co-team builders, the personnel department tends to be under the microscope more when depth and team chemistry are questioned.

This is Dimitroff’s 12th season with the Falcons. It’s only Quinn’s fifth. If Blank goes the route of firing the GM and not the coach, it would because he believes Dimitroff has had a long enough tenure and Quinn deserves one final shot.

Blank also might believe firing nobody would cause a greater fan backlash than firing just one.

Keep Dimitroff, fire Quinn

There’s a case to be made that, for as much as Dimitroff has been a lightning rod for criticism, the second half of this season has somewhat absolved him.

Consider: Guard Chris Lindstrom and tackle Kaleb McGary both look like they’re going to be solid offensive linemen. Cornerback Kendall Sheffield, a fourth-round pick, has played well. Cornerback Isaiah Oliver, a second-round pick in 2018, has been a strong player in the second half of the season, as has sixth-round wide receiver Russell Gage.

On the free agency front, Tyeler Davison and Allen Bailey have been serviceable pick-ups on the defensive line. On the negative side, offensive linemen Jamon Brown and James Carpenter have been dreadful, even if adding offensive line depth was the right idea.

Dimitroff often gets blamed for fat contract extensions. But that really falls more on Blank. When an owner talks about him wanting a player to be “a Falcon for life,” it undercuts management in negotiations. I’m just not sure keeping Dimitroff and firing Quinn would go over well in the locker room.

 

 

 

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The team needed guards. They went out and got two and overpaid, that's what you do in free agency.

Right now the special teams and defense are playing very well. The offense is playing okay, but they could be a lot better. They have shown a lot of growth tho.

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Keeping TD and firing DQ would be a joke. AB won’t do that. Keeping DQ and firing TD makes more sense. Bring in Ed Dodds and keep DQ and let Dodds add the final pieces that TD (bad decisions Carpenter and Brown big contracts didn’t work) could never do. Plus my gosh TD can’t find a pass rusher

Edited by Atl Falcon
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26 minutes ago, rounz said:

Sigh.

I've come to terms with the idea that they'll both be here next year barring some miracle/catastrophe.

And as for Blank, the writer makes it seem like he said "..a Falcon for life" about every contract renewal or extension

AB needs to get the FOOTW with this Falcon for life stuff and let the GM handle it

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I think it is hard to fire either Quinn or TD.  When you look at the past two drafts they appear solid.  Calvin Ridley has developed into the complement for Julio we expected and Isaiah Oliver's improvement in the second half has been encouraging.  Senat has been a weekly inactive which is troubling after an encouraging rookie year. Russell Gage stepped up as a backup receiver this year and Foye Oluokun is likely Devondre's replacement.  The 2019 draft class looks solid with Lindstrom and McGary showing the makings of being longterm starters. Kendall Sheffield looks like solid depth and Ollison may carve out a larger role for himself.   Quinn has earned a reprieve due to the strong finish and finding a way to make things right. Not losing his team in a lost season speaks to his perseverance.

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57 minutes ago, Atl Falcon said:

Keeping TD and firing DQ would be a joke. AB won’t do that. Keeping DQ and firing TD makes more sense. Bring in Ed Dodds and keep DQ and let Dodds add the final pieces that TD (bad decisions Carpenter and Brown big contracts didn’t work) could never do. Plus my gosh TD can’t find a pass rusher

He found and nfl sack champ and Grady Jarrett just saying.

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Thing is, in order for that stadium to be filled then the Falcons will either have to start winning again or make sweeping changes.  I’d venture to say that even next season’s home opener and the following games will look pretty much like what the crowd looked like today.  That won’t sit well with Blank.  

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2 hours ago, KRUNKuno said:

Thing is, in order for that stadium to be filled then the Falcons will either have to start winning again or make sweeping changes.  I’d venture to say that even next season’s home opener and the following games will look pretty much like what the crowd looked like today.  That won’t sit well with Blank.  

but without sweeping changes, as u say, Blank is accepting of a half empty stadium next year to start the season. fans have seen a second half of the season winning streak not carry over before (ie 2019). why would Blank think it would be any different in 2020 when the same ole, same ole is in place...less some players of course. Blank has some tough choices ahead...

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2 hours ago, KRUNKuno said:

Thing is, in order for that stadium to be filled then the Falcons will either have to start winning again or make sweeping changes.  I’d venture to say that even next season’s home opener and the following games will look pretty much like what the crowd looked like today.  That won’t sit well with Blank.  

In Atlanta, fans won’t show up if the team is losing. That’s ANY Atlanta team. Over 50 years of history. And when you start winning, it takes time for attendance to catch up. Only exceptions are when they build new stadiums which seems to be epidemic around here. 

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3 hours ago, KRUNKuno said:

Thing is, in order for that stadium to be filled then the Falcons will either have to start winning again or make sweeping changes.  I’d venture to say that even next season’s home opener and the following games will look pretty much like what the crowd looked like today.  That won’t sit well with Blank.  

Mercedes Benz Mall Stadium will NEVER have a consistent home field crowd as long as PSLS are in play. 

The true Falcon fans that use to own those seats were tossed aside for large corporations to entertain their customers. The prices are far too expensive for the average fan, so your corporate crowds are what you get now. 

The small crowds now that Arthur Blank is seeing is a lot of his own fault. Yes winning would help somewhat but a lot of the real fans are at home now telling their friends that yes.... I use to sit there for 30 years until the Mall was built. Arthur and money destroyed any home field advantage this team had at the Georgia Dome. 

It will never have a chance be a full stadium consistently unless the PSLs are tossed aside just  like the loyal fan base was. You got the type of fan base you wanted Arthur and Rich McKay. Now enjoy looking at the empty seats. 

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1 hour ago, Skott Lee said:

In Atlanta, fans won’t show up if the team is losing. That’s ANY Atlanta team. Over 50 years of history. And when you start winning, it takes time for attendance to catch up. Only exceptions are when they build new stadiums which seems to be epidemic around here. 

Na the epidemic is 50 + years of ATL sports teams folding like lawn chairs in the spotlight. Eventually the fans wise up. It's pointless to support a team simply for existing when they only disappoint when it matters. 

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Just now, MAD597 said:

Na the epidemic is 50 + years of ATL sports teams folding like lawn chairs in the spotlight. Eventually the fans wise up. It's pointless to support a team simply for existing when they only disappoint when it matters. 

Yet your still here complaining if it as you say why would you care.

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3 minutes ago, kiwifalcon said:

Yet has still put winning teams on the field.You need to stop with the trenches or bust thinking.

We have had 2 winning seasons since 2013. We are not a good franchise any more and the main weakness year in and year out is the trenches.

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1 minute ago, MAD597 said:

Na the epidemic is 50 + years of ATL sports teams folding like lawn chairs in the spotlight. Eventually the fans wise up. It's pointless to support a team simply for existing when they only disappoint when it matters. 

It’s sadly true that even when we are winning we have an aura of being losers because we know the inevitable postseason meltdown is looming. 

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Just now, MAD597 said:

We have had 2 winning seasons since 2013. We are not a good franchise any more and the main weakness year in and year out is the trenches.

We’ve been to the SB inside the last 3 with a heaviest olineman playing C weighing 310.

We went and signed and drafted bigger olineman and still can’t run the ball and have issues at times pass blocking.

How exactly did getting bigger help us again?

Dallas Cowboys loaded up with 1st round olineman exactly how many playoff games have they won again.

Better have more than just meatheads to win in this league.

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During the bye week some people asked what was the use of firing DQ then.  Well the dilemma that Blank finds himself in now is because he didn’t fire DQ back then.  Had he fired DQ back at bye week and the interim coach went 6-2 the fans would have been excited for next year.  On the other hand if he fired DQ then and the Falcons kept on losing then he can blow up the whole thing, get new front office people that would generate excitement for next year then most fans would be excited for next year as well.  Instead now he him himself in a bind.  

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