Dan Quinn

Latest On Falcons’ HC Dan Quinn

While Falcons head coach Dan Quinn may be on the hot seat, it sounds as if he will have at least a couple more weeks to save his job. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says that club owner Arthur Blank wants to see progress over the next three games before Atlanta’s Week 9 bye, but if he does not like what he sees during that time, Quinn could be axed.

Atlanta, which was humiliated by the Texans last week, will take on the Cardinals in Arizona today, followed by difficult games against the Rams and Seahawks. Luckily for Quinn and his Falcons, the LA and Seattle contests are at home, but given the way Quinn’s club has looked this season, Atlanta will probably be underdogs for both of those matchups just the same.

But Blank does not like to make midseason coaching changes, and he would prefer to keep Quinn on until at least the end of the season. Rapoport says that Blank has not had discussions about Quinn’s future just yet, but that could change soon. Speculatively, it sounds as if the Falcons may need to beat the Cardinals and at least one of the Rams or Seahawks for Quinn to keep his job beyond the Week 9 bye.

After all, Quinn fired all three of his top coordinators this offseason and is now serving as his own defensive coordinator. The fact that the Falcons have allowed the second-most points in the league is not exactly helping his case.

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Falcons Not Considering Coaching Change

Dan Quinn and his staff are safe, for now. Falcons owner Arthur Blank said the team won’t be making any changes at this time following his team’s loss to the Texans, according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com

“No. … This staff has performed before. My hope is they can fix what needs to be fixed and start winning some games,” Blank said when asked if a coaching change is needed. Just earlier this morning, we received more confirmation that he is on the hot seat, and that report indicated a loss to the Texans could be the final straw. Even though there apparently are no firings imminent, that’s a pretty tepid statement of confidence from Blank. It’s long been speculated that Quinn won’t be brought back in 2020 unless the Falcons make the playoffs, and even then he might have to win a game or two.

With their loss to Houston, Atlanta fell to 1-4 on the year. There was a report back in May that Blank was growing “restless” with the organization’s power structure, and it’s understandable considering how they’ve regressed in recent seasons. Just a few years ago, the Falcons had the league MVP in Matt Ryan and were playing in the Super Bowl. The defense has since completely collapsed, and the offense has declined sharply since former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan left.

Atlanta missed the playoffs last year and as of right now it looks like Quinn will be looking for a new gig this offseason. He was forced to make major changes to his staff this past offseason, firing offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel. Quinn rose to prominence as the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator for a couple of years during their ‘Legion of Boom’ glory days. It’s possible the Falcons won’t make a move during the season out of respect for the success he’s had, but Blank clearly is getting impatient and his days appear to be numbered.

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NFC South Notes: Payton, Brees, Quinn

The extension that Saints head coach Sean Payton signed last month is a whopper. Payton was making $9MM per year under his previous contract, but Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that the offensive guru will now be pulling down around $13MM per season. That deal is one of the largest among coaches of North American professional sports, and it obviously will put an end to speculation concerning Payton’s long-term future in the Big Easy.

Now for more from the NFC South, starting with the other face of the Saints:

  • Drew Brees is throwing a football again, as shown on a video that the Saints star posted on Instagram. Brees managed to avoid a trip to the IR, and last week we learned that he is making progress in his recovery from thumb surgery. New Orleans is 2-0 with Brees’ backup, Teddy Bridgewater, at the helm, and the club will try to make that 3-0 against Tampa Bay this afternoon. Previous reports suggested that Brees could return for the club’s November 10 matchup with the Falcons.
  • Falcons head coach Dan Quinn is on the hot seat, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk says an Atlanta loss to the Texans today could expedite Quinn’s ouster. After all, a loss would drop the team to 1-4, and with difficult games against the Rams and Seahawks following the Falcons’ matchup with the Cardinals next week, Atlanta could be looking at a 2-6 record after the first half of the season. Atlanta has three former head coaches on its staff — offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, tight ends coach Mike Mularkey, and receivers coach Raheem Morris — and owner Arthur Blank may be thinking about putting one of them in charge to finish out the season if Quinn can’t right the ship immediately.
  • Greg Auman of The Athletic observes that the Buccaneers could be in line for a third-round compensatory pick to offset the loss of Kwon Alexander in free agency and a fourth-rounder to offset the loss of Adam Humphries. As it currently stands, Tampa Bay signed enough outside free agents to negate those compensatory picks, but given that some of those free agents are underperforming (or barely playing), the Bucs could cut them loose prior to Week 9 to put themselves back on track for the compensatory selections. That means that Deone Bucannon, Breshad Perriman, and Bradley Pinion could all be in danger of being cut.

Falcons Owner Discusses Team’s Offseason

Earlier this week, veteran NFL reporter Peter King wrote in his “Football Morning in America” column that Falcons owner Arthur Blank “is getting restless.” However, in a statement to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Blank said that wasn’t the case, as the owner was happy with the organization’s offseason.

“I’m feeling very good about what (general manager) Thomas (Dimitroff) and (coach) Dan (Quinn) have done this offseason,” Blank said. “We have some key guys getting healthy again, the draft picks are getting up to speed, the new coordinators are meshing well and I’m confident we’re going to be ready to go for a very competitive training camp. I like where we’re going.”

The Falcons have been especially focused on improving their offensive line this offseason. The front office used a pair of first-rounders to select linemen Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary, and they also added projected starter James Carpenter via free agency. The team’s other notable offseason moves include signing defensive linemen Adrian Clayborn and Tyeler Davison, and they also added backup tight end Luke Stocker. The Falcons even reshaped their coaching staff, hiring Dirk Koetter as their offensive coordinator and Ben Kotwica as their special teams coordinator.

However, it isn’t unfair to wonder if the Falcons are floundering. As King noted in his article, the team is 18-17 over their past 35 games (a string that starts with their devastating Super Bowl loss to the Patriots). Furthermore, the team is set to pay quarterback Matt Ryan $30MM over the next half-decade, and they’ll presumably be paying wideout Julio Jones a lucrative contract, as well.

The Falcons have head coach Dan Quinn and GM Thomas Dimitroff under contract through 2022. Their deals would indicate that their fates are tied together, but Blank previously said the duo isn’t necessarily linked if the 2019 season goes poorly.

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Falcons’ Owner On Quinn, Dimitroff

The Falcons have head coach Dan Quinn and GM Thomas Dimitroff under contract through 2022. Their deals would indicate that their fates are tied together, but he says they are not necessarily linked if the 2019 season goes poorly. 

[RELATED: Former Falcons Coach Mike Smith Retires]

I don’t know that. That’s a whole year away,” Blank said (via Jeff Schultz of The Athletic). “They’re two different people with two different roles. I understand the question, and I understand the answer you would like. But the answer I’m giving is the honest answer, which is that we have a year for things to play out.”

Blank went on to say that he has a “very high confidence level” in their ability to turn things around, but it sounds like any outcome is possible if the Falcons fail to make the playoffs yet again. Atlanta finished out 7-9 in 2018 despite a talented roster and high expectations heading into the season.

Of course, the duo has found success together. The Falcons reached, and nearly won, Super Bowl LI against the Patriots following the 2016 season. In 2017, they secured a Wild Card spot with a 10-6 record before falling to the Eagles in the divisional round.

They’re tied at the hip in a positive way in terms of their decision-making,” he said. “I’ve seen them disagree on things in a respectful way. They definitely have different views on some things, but we encourage that as part of our culture in all of our businesses. Usually, if they disagree on something, they move on and try to find an option they both feel better about.”

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Falcons Won’t Hire Defensive Coordinator

Marquand Manuel‘s dismissal as the Falcons’ defensive coordinator will result in a temporary elimination of that position on Atlanta’s staff.

Dan Quinn said Thursday he plans to serve in that role, the fifth-year coach adding defensive play-calling duties to his game-day docket. Quinn considered moving wide receivers coach Raheem Morris to defensive coordinator but decided he will take over the play-calling.

The former Seattle DC assumed Atlanta’s defensive play-calling responsibilities late in the 2016 season but allowed Manuel to run that area the past two years.

More than anything I just really wanted to make sure that the style and attitude that we want to play defensively. I really enjoy that part of it and want to be more involved in that way,” Quinn said, via Will McFadden of AtlantaFalcons.com. “I thought that was the appropriate to say, ‘Hey, if I’m going to be the one calling it, we certainly want to give you the right to do that.”

The Falcons ranked eighth in scoring defense in 2017, but a more depleted version allowed the fifth-most points this season. They were 27th in this area under Quinn and Richard Smith in 2016.

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Falcons Fire Steve Sarkisian

Dan Quinn’s job is safe, but the Falcons are firing almost everybody else. The team is letting go offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel, and special teams coach Keith Armstrong, sources told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

The Falcons have gone downhill since their Super Bowl run two seasons ago, sneaking into the playoffs as a six seed last year before falling apart this season. Injuries were partially to blame, but the team finished just 7-9 despite having a ton of talent, and regressed heavily on defense. The offense hasn’t been the same since Kyle Shanahan left to coach the 49ers, and Sarkisian had received a ton of criticism for his playcalling, especially in the red-zone. With the defense becoming one of the worst units in the NFL this season, it’s no surprise that Manuel was let go. The firing of Armstrong, who has been considered for head coaching jobs in the past, cements this as a total house cleaning.

According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link), the Falcons will conduct searches for new offensive and special teams coordinators, but Quinn is expected to take over the defense. Matt Ryan has put up big numbers over the last couple of years but it hasn’t translated to wins.

Interestingly, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets to “keep an eye on Gary Kubiak” for the offensive coordinator role, and James Palmer of NFL Network tweets that he’s heard the same. Kubiak, the former Texans and Broncos head coach who won a Super Bowl in Denver, has been rumored to be mulling a return to the sidelines as a coordinator. Owner Arthur Blank has expressed confidence in Quinn, but these moves clearly suggest that Quinn is feeling the heat. If he can’t get Atlanta back to the playoffs next year, he could be out of a job just a few years removed from an NFC Championship.

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South Coaching Rumors: Koetter, Quinn, Marrone, Rivera

It has been assumed that the Buccaneers and head coach Dirk Koetter would be parting ways at the end of the season, but Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) does not necessarily believe that assumption is a safe one. Rapoport says Koetter could certainly be fired — which would then make him a very appealing OC candidate for rival clubs — but the Glazer family has not ruled out keeping Koetter and the entire “upper structure” of the team. After all, Tampa Bay’s offense is the most prolific in franchise history, and the club’s defense has become a league-average unit since former DC Mike Smith was fired in October.

Now for more rumors on head coaches in the league’s south divisions:

  • Rapoport also says Falcons head coach Dan Quinn is expected to be back for 2019. There has not been much national chatter about Quinn’s job security anyway, so that does not come as much of a surprise. but Rapoport does expect “significant changes” at the coordinator spots. We already learned that offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian is likely on his way out, and Rapoport confirms that Darrell Bevell will be on the short list to replace him. Defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel also appears in danger of losing his job [SOURCE LINK].
  • At the end of November, Rapoport said that Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone is in no danger of losing his job, and he doubled down on that report today, saying that Jacksonville owner Shad Khan and executive VP of football operations Tom Coughlin believe in Marrone. The team will seek a new QB and a new offensive coordinator, but it currently sounds as if Marrone will get another shot in 2019. Of course, there have been rumblings that Coughlin himself will consider taking over the head coaching reins, but Rapoport’s sources seem to refute to notion.
  • Despite rumors of a potential shakeup, Rapoport says the Panthers are expected to retain head coach Ron Rivera. New owner David Tepper reportedly believes in Rivera, who recently took over defensive play-calling duties and who would become one of the top head coaching candidates on the market if he were let go. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, though, suggests that Tepper could indeed go in another direction at season’s end, but if he does, it will be difficult to find someone who would represent a clear improvement over Rivera [SOURCE LINK].

Falcons Sign Dimitroff, Quinn To Extensions

The Falcons signed general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn to three-year contracts extensions, the team announced on Wednesday. Both men are now signed through the 2022 season. 

[RELATED: Julio Jones Won’t Report To Camp]

The partnership between Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff has proven to be as successful as we envisioned back in 2015,” said Falcons owner and chairman Arthur Blank. “I believe continuity in leadership is vital to achieving the highest levels of success in any organization and, with these extensions, we ensure these two leaders will be at the helm of our franchise for years to come. Their shared vision and long view plan has already delivered on a variety of levels and has positioned our team for success into the future. My expectations for our team to represent our city and fans well on and off the field remain very high and so does my confidence in Dan and Thomas to make that happen.”

Things have gone well in Atlanta, for the most part, since Dimitroff joined the team in 2008. The Falcons enjoyed five consecutive winning seasons and three consecutive playoff appearances from 2008-12. Clearly, Dimitroff’s emphasis on building through the draft has paid off. As the Falcons noted in their press release, the Falcons had 17 starters in last year’s playoffs – nine on defense and eight on offense – who were either drafted or signed by the team as college free agents.

Quinn, meanwhile, joined the Falcons in 2015. He has a 29-19 record in his three seasons at the helm, including two postseason appearances and a Super Bowl appearance.

Last year, the Falcons enjoyed a playoff win over the Rams, but fell to the Eagles in the divisional round. As they look to improve upon that, they’ll forge ahead with their current GM/Coach duo.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Cousins, Jets, Steelers, Bengals

The Jets’ decision to hire Todd Bowles as their head coach instead of Dan Quinn in 2015 may have cost them a chance to acquire then-backup quarterback Kirk Cousins from the Redskins, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Quinn’s offensive coordinator in Atlanta, Kyle Shanahan, would have come with him to New York but would not have wanted to work with Geno Smith, sources told Mehta. Shanahan would have pushed to acquire Cousins, whom he knew from their time together in Washington in 2012. A big Cousins fan, Shanahan was reportedly “integral” in the Redskins’ drafting of the ex-Michigan State signal-caller. Along with Shanahan, Quinn would have brought former Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik with him to work in the Jets’ front office. Dominik is close with Redskins president Bruce Allen, and their friendship could have further helped lead the way to a Cousins trade, writes Mehta.

As we ponder what could have been, here’s more from New York and a few other AFC cities:

  • While Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is considering retirement, it will be a surprise if the 13th-year man doesn’t return in 2017, sources told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). In the seemingly likely event Roethlisberger does come back for his age-35 season, the Steelers should still give serious thought to using a high-round pick on a potential successor, opines Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
  • The Jets’ previously reported interest in Saints wide receivers coach John Morton has already led to an interview. The two sides met Tuesday, and Morton remains in the running for the job, reports Mike Triplett of ESPN.com.
  • It appeared the NFL had lifted running back Karlos Williams‘ 10-game suspension when the Steelers brought him back on a reserve/futures deal Monday, but that’s not the case. Williams still has one game remaining on the substance abuse-related ban the league handed him in November, tweets Fowler. He’ll be eligible to take the field again in Week 2 of next season.
  • The belief is that the Bengals are talking to pending free agent kicker Randy Bullock about a new contract, writes Geoff Hobson of the team’s website. Re-signing Bullock wouldn’t stop the Bengals from searching for other options at the position, notes Hobson. The 27-year-old Bullock didn’t join the Bengals until mid-December, when they claimed him off waivers from division-rival Pittsburgh after releasing Mike Nugent. Bullock, who was a member of three teams in 2016 (the Giants were the other), connected on 5 of 6 field goal tries and all six extra points in three games with Cincinnati.
  • The Broncos made a minor change to their Vance Joseph-led staff Tuesday, promoting special teams quality control coach Chris Gould to assistant special teams coach. They’re also set to retain Klint Kubiak, the son of previous Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak, as their offensive assistant/quarterbacks coach, per Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post.