Along with the Broncos, the Falcons are one of two teams remaining with a head coaching vacancy, but it appears as if Atlanta has made a decision on whom they want to hire. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), the Falcons “have privately told people their plan” is to hire Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Quinn, who cannot accept a head coaching position until Seattle is eliminated from the playoffs, will meet with Atlanta again on Monday, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported earlier. If the Seahawks lose to the Packers today, it sounds like Quinn could be announced as the Falcons’ HC following tomorrow’s interview.
After Atlanta fired Mike Smith, the prevailing opinion was that ex-Jets head coach Rex Ryan was the favorite to land with the Falcons, but he instead chose to sign with the Bills. Other candidates, like Todd Bowles and Teryl Austin, have been viewed as likely to garner the Atlanta job at various times, but it’s possible that Arthur Blanks, Thomas Dimitroff, and the rest of the Falcons contingent wanted Quinn the entire time, and simply had to wait for the Seahawks’ postseason run to conclude. During its coaching search, Atlanta has also interviewed Adam Gase, Josh McDaniels, Doug Marrone, and Keith Armstrong.
Quinn, 44, has been Seattle’s defensive coordinator for the past two seasons, and has more than a decade of NFL experience; he’s also served in the college ranks, acting as Florida’s DC from 2011-12. Both of his Seahawks defenses have finished first in DVOA per Football Outsiders, and in 2014, Seattle allowed just 268 yards per game and 15.9 points per game, both first in the league.
The Falcons restructured their front office a few weeks ago, and while Dimitroff will retain control over free agency and the draft, it’s unclear who will have final say over the 53-man roster. NFL.com’s Albert Breer noted at the time that such authority could go to the new head coach, meaning Quinn would have his hand in personnel as well as coaching. Meanwhile, the Seahawks will have to prepare for life without Quinn, and Rapoport tweets that secondary coach Kris Richard is capable of ascending to the DC role. It’s not clear if Rapoport is merely speculating here, but the point stands — Richard, who’s been with Seattle since ’12, has helped develop one of the more imposing defensive backfields in NFL history.