Friday morning, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur M. Blank announced he would retain the services of both head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff heading into the 2020 season. This year, the Falcons stumbled to a 1-7 start. After the bye week, Quinn announced Raheem Morris would become the defensive coordinator and both Quinn and Dimitroff will report directly to team CEO Rich McKay — as opposed to Blank. Blank will continue to oversee football operations, but McKay will be the avenue connecting all parties involved.
“Over the last two seasons our results on the field have not met our standard or the expectations of our fans,” said Blank in an interview. “I understand our fans’ disappointment and frustration because I’ve felt every bit of it as well. That said, our focus must be on giving our franchise the best opportunity to win next year and beyond. I have long believed that continuity in leadership is very important across all our businesses and the football team is no different in that regard. After weighing several factors, including our team’s statistical turnaround and our players’ focus and effort the second half of the season, I feel the decision to retain Thomas and Dan, with Rich providing close day-to-day oversight of the football operation, will provide the timeliest route for the Atlanta Falcons to return to contention in 2020 and beyond.”
After the trip to Super Bowl LI, Quinn has gone 24-23 and many believed his seat was white hot or hotter than a blue flame. However, Blank and McKay credited Quinn’s temerity to self-assess his situation as part of the Falcons’ 5-2 turnaround since the bye week.
“There aren’t many guys that could’ve come into the room as a head football coach this year in a 1-7 setting and reset the tone – just literally reset the tone,” Falcons president Rich McKay said. “Took some ownership of why we were at 1-7 on himself, beyond just pointing at the players and saying it’s on you. He turned the mirror towards himself and he just reset the mindset. And that’s who he is.”
Wide receiver Julio Jones does not have a penchant for making grand locker room speeches. However, after the Falcons 37-10 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, he said the poor start was on the players and not the coaches. While he told the media “the ball hasn’t bounced our way”, he made sure to tell his teammates that the effort must not slip because the record isn’t the best.
“I’ve just been here for nine years and different guys in and out and we have the team to be good and great,” Jones said Oct. 24. “The ball hasn’t been bouncing our way lately. It’s just one of those things, letting guys know, we’re all in here together. When times get tough, it’s like you can play the blame game and things like that. None of that has happened but I just didn’t want it to get to that point where guys are doubting themselves, not trusting their routines. We just talked.”
Meanwhile, Morris will remain as defensive coordinator. Here are more reasons why the Falcons have gone 5-2 in the past seven games:
- Over the last seven games, the Falcons defense has only allowed an average of 18.1 points per game, which is seventh best in the league.
- The Falcons have forced 13 turnovers in the last seven games, or 1.85 per game. The 49ers rank fifth heading into Week 17 with 1.80 per game.
- On third downs the Falcons have gone from the league’s worst unit to No. 1, allowing just 27 percent.
- The Falcons’ red-zone touchdown percentage is 42 percent, second best in the league.
“I’ve been impressed with Raheem in his on-field coaching day-in and day-out,” McKay said. “I don’t even know what the phrase ‘players coach’ means. The nice thing about him is, if there is one, he is one. And the reason is because he’s a communicator. He’s out at practice every day communicating with all those players, rookies and veterans. And he’s communicating in his own way to them. In other words, it’s unique to them.”