The firings of Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff came down to one constant from 2017-2020: disappointment.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank was blunt with reporters on Monday following his decision to terminate the employment of both his general manager and head coach.
“It’s called lack of winning,” Blank said. “So the problems that we have to solve are all the problems ahead of us that keep us from winning.”
Atlanta is now in its fourth season following its memorable, red-hot run to Super Bowl LI that saw the Falcons take a 28-3 lead in the third quarter before melting down in historic fashion, losing in overtime to the New England Patriots.
The franchise simply hasn’t recovered from that loss, Blank said.
“This is not just a response to 0-5. It’s a response to really almost three and a half years,” Blank said. “Post-Super Bowl, we’re playing less than .500 ball. So when you look at that many games over a long period of time and you adjust for injuries, which every NFL team has, we just haven’t performed at a level that we’re capable of.
“We think our talent is better than our record at this point. For a variety of reasons, we weren’t getting the results that we needed to get. So the time for the change was now.”
Quinn posted a career record of 43-42 in Atlanta and led the Falcons to two playoff appearances in 2016 and 2017 (including an NFC South title in 2016), but since the 2016 season, Atlanta is just 24-29 overall, including consecutive 7-9 finishes in 2018 and 2019.
Quinn appeared to be on the hot seat in 2019 before his Falcons finished strong, winning their final four games in what was seen as a potential sign of the team turning the corner going into 2020. Atlanta couldn’t sustain the positive performances, though, losing in five straight games to open 2020, including two heartbreaking collapses in Weeks 2 and 3 that looked very much like the way the Falcons lost the Super Bowl.
Atlanta didn’t struggle to find the end zone, but its defense — the phase of the game for which Quinn was known when he was hired — was atrocious, allowing 32.2 points and 446 yards per game. Both are on pace to be the most in a single season in franchise history.
“Performance wasn’t there,” Blank said. “Every opportunity was given over the last three and a half years. Just needs to be addressed now.”
Falcons president and CEO Rich McKay spent over seven minutes explaining the franchise’s decision and how the organization will go about selecting its next coach in a video posted to the team’s Twitter account Monday. On the personnel side, McKay said he’s looking for a “strategic, analytic mind” who will advance the franchise in its new decade, adding he won’t pin the team to an ideology with its candidates. McKay also didn’t commit to a timeline or an order of operations in hiring a coach and GM.
Rich McKay gives his thoughts on search criteria, football philosophy, expectations and next steps on searching for a new general manager and a head coach. pic.twitter.com/enz3PhUk6z
His greatest emphasis: instant results, within reason.
“We expect to be a really good team right away,” McKay said. “That’s what we expect. That’s what we want to be.”
Atlanta is now the second franchise to have a head-coaching vacancy, joining Houston, which fired coach and GM Bill O’Brien last week. The Falcons have a bit of an advantage in terms of time, but with most of the season still to be played, we shouldn’t expect them to hire replacements for Quinn and Dimitroff soon.
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