In a post-game press conference Sunday, Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said he told the team, after a surprising loss to the Cardinals, “You can put everything into it still knowing that you could get your heart broken.”
He was referencing a question about Matt Bryant’s muffed extra point with under two minutes to play that ended up costing Atlanta a potential chance at overtime, though it could adequately summarize Quinn’s time with the Falcons well.
We’ve come to a tipping point in his tenure here, just three years after they reached the Super Bowl, where the prospect of a mid-season coaching change has gone from laughable to a fringe thought to what might be a creeping inevitability if their slide reaches new depths in the coming weeks. Before Thanksgiving, Atlanta still has to play the Rams, Seattle, the Saints (probably with Drew Brees) and the rolling Panthers (possibly with Cam Newton). It would take a herculean effort to get them back to .500.
They are one of the most underperforming rosters in football right now. An enigma that cannot be explained by injuries alone.
I am not a fan of mid-season coaching changes unless a team has both an obvious on-staff candidate they would like to evaluate for an extended period of time and are threadbare enough in the roster department that they would require an additional amount of time to woo potential candidates during the winter cycle. Unless Atlanta is, say, legitimately interested in giving Raheem Morris a chance to win the gig, Quinn has earned the right to finish out the 2019 season and save himself. The roster would have candidates lining up this offseason should they make a change.
But, as Quinn told his players on Sunday, there’s no guarantee the Falcons won’t continue to get their heart broken. Atlanta has bounced from one cosmic moment of improbability to the next during Quinn’s tenure, though anyone who has toured the facility there or watched Quinn coach a practice or talked to a high-profile Falcons player knows it’s not for lack of effort. Quinn did his best to reconfigure this team emotionally in the weeks, months and years following one of the most stunning defeats in Super Bowl history. This is not to suggest that the loss is still lingering, only that they haven’t really looked the same since.
Next season Matt Ryan will be 35 and Julio Jones will be 31, and as heartbreaking as it might be to begin the separation process with a good head coach who pushed the franchise in the right direction, it would be even more difficult to comprehend not reaching another Super Bowl when both are in their athletic prime.
Perhaps the pendulum of improbability swings the other way for Quinn and the Falcons, and they emerge from this stretch as the team we all projected them to be. It may not be over, but there’s no doubt it’s getting late.
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1. Jared Goff’s struggles continue. The Rams are now 3-3. What happens now?
2. The Chiefs have now lost two straight. What happens now?
3. Zach Brown takes aim at King Cousins, and then backs down when the GOAT throws four TDs.
4. The Jets beat the Cowboys, and nothing we understand about the world is true.
5. Mike Vrabel makes the move: Marcus Mariota benched in favor of Ryan Tannehill.
6. Baker Mayfield’s hip is hurting. The Browns are 2-4. JEEZ.
Happy Monday. Scrambled eggs for breakfast.
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