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Arthur Blank will tire of humiliation at some point and do something - The Athletic


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by Jeff Schultz for The Athletic 

 

Arthur Blank left his box for the final minutes of a game again Sunday so he could make his way down to the sideline and watch his team up close. Why he continues to do this is a mystery. At some point, the tradition shifts from a sign of loyalty to borderline masochism.

The Falcons’ owner stood 7 yards from the end zone, emotionless, hands held behind him, looking up as the Chicago Bears’ offense drove toward him from midfield. The Bears weren’t being led by Tom Brady, but we know by now it doesn’t have to be Tom Brady. It can be a backup quarterback who wasn’t deemed good enough to beat out Mitchell Trubisky.

Six yards. Eight yards. Not again. Again? Again. Two yards. Incomplete. Third-and-8 from the 28. Nick Foles, this week’s great humiliator, takes the snap, steps back and — by now we know: It’s written in the stars of the Atlanta sports underworld — sees wide receiver Anthony Miller blow past defensive Blidi Wreh-Wilson on a post route. Wide open. Blank sees it. We all see it. Foles flings a perfect pass to lead Miller into the end zone. Touchdown.

That’s three Chicago touchdowns in 4:27 of the fourth quarter. That’s five Chicago touchdowns in the second half, if you count the two that were reversed on replay. That’s another loss, another collapse. This is who the Falcons are now. This is their identity. They tease you with something good, but then they go up like kindling, and the only evidence when it’s over are little piles of ashes on a field.

“The entire story hasn’t been told yet,” quarterback Matt Ryan said. “But we need to change it. We need to change the narrative.”

Good luck with that.

Blank was celebrating his 78th birthday. He deserved better than another collapse at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. After the final Chicago touchdown secured a 30-26 Falcons loss and the franchise’s first 0-3 start since 2007, Blank looked down, paced a few yards and then looked back up, seemingly into space. When the final seconds ticked off, he huddled with a couple of team officials and had his back turned to the field as players slowly jogged past him. Blank eventually disappeared through the tunnel and soon headed home.

It was the eve of Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, and the man had some serious reflection to do. Anger and fasting make for a bad combination.

When does Blank fire Dan Quinn as his coach? Because at this point, it is when, not if, right?

A source told The Athletic there were no immediate plans to announce a firing. It also doesn’t seem likely Blank would do so Monday for at least two reasons. He has a history of being out front in a news conference when major decisions are made. Yom Kippur likely precludes him from doing that. Also, the Falcons travel to Green Bay for a Monday night game. It’s hardly the best of circumstances to throw an interim coach into the fire, with a reeling and beat up team going against Aaron Rodgers. I’ve believed all along Quinn would be given four games, before Week 5 against Carolina, the first home game with fans. But Blank is anything but predictable.

Quinn said what he always says. He believes in his players. He believes they’ll get past that. He can’t, and won’t, spend any time thinking or discussing his tenuous job security while he’s trying to glue together a vase that has fallen and crushed into 700 pieces. (My words, not his.)

“I need to be the same guy on our best days and our worst days and stand tall for them,” he said. “Anything past that does not help the team.”

It’s almost forgotten now, but in Quinn’s first season the Falcons started 6-1 and then went 2-7. Then came the Super Bowl collapse in 2016. Then came the late collapse in the 2017 playoffs at Philadelphia. Then the consecutive 7-9 season, including last year’s 1-7 start. Then what forever will be known as The Onside Kick Game. Then Sunday, when the Falcons led 26-10 with fewer than seven minutes remaining.

The defense crumbled. Again. Yes, there were injuries, but this is the same bunch that played well during the game. The offensive hit a wall. Again. There were three three-and-outs and an interception in the final four possessions. They didn’t bleed the clock. Again. Their final three possessions before Chicago went ahead: Eight of 12 plays were pass plays, including five straight incompletions at the end, and one of the three-and-outs took only 11 seconds off the clock. Do they not learn? Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter actually called a good game for most of the game, then he was possessed by the same demon as the rest of them.

They also finish with more signs of dumbness — not to the degree of failing to cover a dribbling onside kick, but an unnecessary roughness on Keith Smith on punt coverage that set up Chicago’s final TD drive and later an unsportsmanlike conduct on Damontae Kazee. In three games this season, the Falcons have been outscored 74-33 in the second half.

This is who they are. It starts with coaching. Underachievement always starts with coaching.

“Let’s wait until we get all the way through,” Quinn said when asked about his team’s identity. “There’s going to be a lot of football to play.”

Also: “It falls on me, in all spaces.”

On that, all agree.

Once more with feeling: The “talent” on this team has been overstated. But the Falcons should be better than this. They shouldn’t be a team that suffers weekly humiliation or gets trampled for 108 points in three games.

Ryan was asked about the offense down the stretch, specifically not running the ball. He didn’t exactly defend the play-calling.

“We have to find a way to improve in those situations,” he said. “But as players, you go out and try to make the call come to life.”

Quinn, on the lack of running the ball and resulting clock management issues: “It’s easy to look back on. Obviously, we’re planning on converting the ones that are short (passes). We expect to connect on the screen that would use the clock.”

This is not a defense. It’s an indictment.

Players continue to say they have Quinn’s back. But that’s because he’s a good guy, not because he’s getting results.

At some point, Blank will stop extending another lifeline.

 

 

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6 minutes ago, hjerry said:

Doubt it, and it's not because he "doesn't have the spine" or " is a bad owner" or "is a coward" or some other dumb Falcons fan insult. 

It's because it's not in his character to fire someone mid season, especially not this early. 

It's not like it would change anything anyway

But HJerry. Some message must be sent. This is unwatchable football. The entire city is calling for change. This is supposed to be entertainment and this is far from that. Fans are leaving this team by the day. Doesn't help that Quinn is the universal sign of failure for any sport. He is the worst. 

Doesn't matter if we don't win another game the rest of the season. If they fire Quinn now, it will show fans that he actually cares. Right now, it seems that he don't care at all.

Edited by gHost83
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4 minutes ago, hjerry said:

Doubt it, and it's not because he "doesn't have the spine" or " is a bad owner" or "is a coward" or some other dumb Falcons fan insult. 

It's because it's not in his character to fire someone mid season, especially not this early. 

It's not like it would change anything anyway 

How about so he'll stop losing fans.... You do realize this team is a laughing stock of the NFL ... Just wait and see what Aaron Rodgers does to this team next weekend on Monday night....  Well that's really going to make us fans proud right... But yeah give Quinn more time. ive  said this before but I truly believe the fans are a mirror of the team .. we just accept losers. Nothing else you can say

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Quinn, on the lack of running the ball and resulting clock management issues: “It’s easy to look back on. Obviously, we’re planning on converting the ones that are short (passes). We expect to connect on the screen that would use the clock.”

Seriously?   Quinns gotta go now!

Fundamentally Flawed! 

Just like playing just two linebackers when the rest of the league plays at least three!

Edited by lostnmexico
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It's just ridiculous.  Sending out the same train wreck over and over isn't the answer. If AB thinks any of these coaches are any good, shouldn't he fire DQ now, promote one & ride him out.  Don't wait until the seasons lost. It is a long season, bring back meaningful football again, please. Could this is anything but. 

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3 hours ago, hjerry said:

Doubt it, and it's not because he "doesn't have the spine" or " is a bad owner" or "is a coward" or some other dumb Falcons fan insult. 

It's because it's not in his character to fire someone mid season, especially not this early. 

It's not like it would change anything anyway

It would change one thing.

It completely removes the possibility of the Falcons being fooled again with a late surge of meaningless wins and keeping Quinn.

If you know you’re not keeping Quinn make the move now so Quinn can move on to the next phase of his life.... and at this point I’d say that’s inevitable unless the Falcons don’t lose another game...

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Jonathan Vilma made a statement that is really unchallengeable about the last two losses and that statement was that the breakdowns were due to lack of mental toughness.  Former players recognize that better than anyone in my opinion.  That falls squarely on the coaching staff and that calls for a change immediately...

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11 hours ago, falconut1991 said:

It's just ridiculous.  Sending out the same train wreck over and over isn't the answer. If AB thinks any of these coaches are any good, shouldn't he fire DQ now, promote one & ride him out.  Don't wait until the seasons lost. It is a long season, bring back meaningful football again, please. Could this is anything but. 

AB is part of the problem if he doesn’t do what’s necessary for this organization to put a winning product on the field. 

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5 hours ago, capologist said:

Jonathan Vilma made a statement that is really unchallengeable about the last two losses and that statement was that the breakdowns were due to lack of mental toughness.  Former players recognize that better than anyone in my opinion.  That falls squarely on the coaching staff and that calls for a change immediately...

I thought JV was pretty good yesterday. He made a lot of good observations during the game.

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16 hours ago, Falcanuck said:

Blank made a mistake not firing Quinn in the offseason. He will likely ride that mistake out, especially with COVID going on. Blank is a good owner, though and I believe Bieniemy or a younger guy from the college game will be the Falcons head coach heading into a new era with a new QB.

Let's hope we don't go down the inexperienced trail again.  

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6 hours ago, etherdome said:

Let's hope we don't go down the inexperienced trail again.  

Would you consider a college HC inexperienced? I also don’t subscribe to the theory that inexperienced is bad. Dipping back into the failure well isn’t the answer either. Bieniemy would be perfect imo. 

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