Point/Counterpoint: Does Dan Quinn Deserve to be Fired?

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Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn watches play against the Dallas Cowboys in the first half of an NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Over the last two games, Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn has seen leads of 20 and 19 points vanish before his very eyes, almost perfectly replicating the dreaded 28-3 lead from Super Bowl LI. After becoming the first team ever to blow two 15-plus point leads in a season, is Dan Quinn’s job on the line? How much more is Arthur Blank going to take? How much longer are Atlanta Falcons fans going to tolerate?  

Cole Stefan:  

At this point, I think it is safe to say that Falcons fans do not want to hear the words “Dan Quinn” come out of anyone’s mouth. They want him to go now, just like the Cowboys wanted Jason Garrett gone and just like any team wants a bad coach gone. Since blowing a 25-point lead in the Super Bowl, the Falcons have gone 10-6 (made the playoffs, lost to the Eagles Divisional weekend), 7-9, 7-9 (missed the playoffs both seasons). There is no excuse, especially since Matt Ryan is not looking like he is past his prime in any way. He might have just one career MVP, but he shows consistency, missing only one start (his only career absence from the field) during that span. At this point, Matt Ryan is turning into Henrik Lundqvist and Mike Trout, great players that are having their careers and superb talents absolutely wasted. Mike Trout has won three MVPs and could be heading for a fourth, but he has no playoff wins. Henrik Lundqvist has won a Vezina trophy from the 2011-12 season but has yet to touch Lord Stanley. Matt Ryan took home one MVP as previously mentioned and still loses games through no fault of his own despite throwing over 400 yards in one game this season. In the other two blown games, he has thrown under 300 yards. 

There is more than just the offense though. I mean, the man was a defensive coordinator for the Legion of Boom, but he is making his defenses look like the Legion of Gloom out there, especially since they cannot hold the leads they do have. There was a time when the Falcons were able to hold onto leads, but they have been giving up points left and right. A.J. Terrell was a nice addition from the draft, but not even he alone cannot support the entire defense. I understand that the offense has scored out of their minds so far this season, but the defense needs to stop letting the other team do the same, especially in the fourth quarter of important games. Something needs to change if the Falcons want to be that dark horse candidate that makes the playoffs out of nowhere. 

Dylan Haviland:  

It is no secret Dan Quinn is on the hot seat, he added two more apocalyptic collapses to his resume in the past two weeks. But let’s look at the bright side. He has an offense that is running on all cylinders through the first three weeks, scoring a combined 90 points over these games and putting them as the fourth highest scoring team in football. Quinn has his team scoring an entire touchdown more in the first three games this season compared to the last three in 2019, and he was forced to play without star receiver Julio Jones this past Sunday, undoubtedly a major contributor to his offense in late game situations. On top of this, Quinn is forced to work in new arrival Todd Gurley, who after three games this season has ranked 32nd in football in yards per carry. He has an unreliable back to run out the clock late in games and a defense that frankly hasn’t proven much to anybody since their title run back in 2016, ranking 20th or below the past three seasons. Yeah sure he was the defensive coordinator for the Legion of Boom, but he also possessed generational talents at all three levels. With a secondary of Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor backing up Bobby Wagner and Michael Bennett in the prime of their careers, there was much more flexibility in defensive game planning. Nowadays, Quinn’s defense harps on the above-average work of Grady Jarrett (T-10th in sacks through three games) and Ricardo Allen, who was also out this past Sunday.  

CS:  

People forget that there are good aspects of the Falcons’ defense right now, such as Grady Jarrett and Ricardo Allen, but there have been mistakes made that just cannot be made on a professional football field. Think about this: up by two points, the Cowboys decide to go for an onside kick. Makes sense, but the Falcons literally decide to wait ten yards before picking up the ball, giving the Cowboys the ball right away. Who made up that idea and why would any professional coach allow for that kind of foolishness? Dan Quinn literally said in an interview after that heartbreaking loss that “our guys did know the rules.” If I were a coach in that situation, I would be giving one of the angriest and most heartfelt speeches of my life. There is a good chance that Quinn sure did, but I feel like he was just not able to let the words sink into the defense’s minds. Now to your point about the rush, understand also that he has other running backs, but none are performing on the same level as Gurley, who has been weakened over the past several seasons by injury. Even then, when he is running the ball, his team should be winning, and the defense is going to need to be reconsidered after these epic collapses. With Julio Jones, Austin Hooper, Matt Ryan and Calvin Ridley on offense, they should be winning.  

Regardless of other teams blowing second half leads, it seems almost commonplace at this point for Atlanta. The Falcons also let a mainly career backup quarterback in Nick Foles cook their defense while making Mitch Trubisky look bad. Nick Foles put up 188 yards with three touchdowns and one interception that almost set up a fourth touchdown. Again, former MVP Matt Ryan was not even that perfect on Sunday either, throwing an interception late in the game that sealed the deal and the blown lead for the Falcons. Like the rest of the league, the Falcons are experiencing injuries, but the Falcons’ injury is a severe choking hazard and the only way to make sure that the injury is not season-ending is to get rid of Dan Quinn now before things get worse. The Falcons have had worse hires, but some of the decisions going through Dan Quinn’s minds are costing him his job, and this recent collapse might have put ownership on the edge. People once thought of the Falcons as slightly underrated, now they are just disappointing. 

DH:  

While the Falcons have definitely blown two unbelievably winnable games, I’m not so sure that after three weeks Quinn should or will be fired. His team suffered a mistake that happens maybe once a year on the onside kick, and sure he whittled away defensively last week, but all coaches around the league have had terrible defensive second halves. Take for example the Bills who almost witnessed a loss at the hands of a monumental Rams comeback, if not for the brilliance of MVP candidate Josh Allen coming up with a miracle touchdown at the end of the game. As for Nick Foles, the guy is made of magic dust. We saw what he did to the consensus best coach in history in Super Bowl LII, when he performed a Philly special and won Super Bowl MVP. We also got the opportunity to see Foles come up clutch against the Bears in 2018 when he barely squeaked out a win, with the help of a double doink, in place of Carson Wentz. At this point, if Foles enters the game it might as well be chalked up as an L for the opposing team. In all seriousness, it’s only week three, and I’d say that this team’s biggest test is coming next weekend with the Packers. Let’s see what Quinn draws up next and then decide if he really deserves to be at the helm of this team.  

Well there you have it, two correspondents have debated about Dan Quinn’s job security long enough to leave this question up to you, the reader. How much longer is Dan Quinn going to be a head coach? 

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