The Atlanta Falcons fired head coach Dan Quinn after an 0-5 start to the 2020 season. It the Falcons first 0-5 start since 1997, which not only led to Quinn’s firing, but also general manager Thomas Dimitroff’s.
Quinn had not led Atlanta to the playoffs since 2017, where they lost in the Divisional Round. The year before, he led the Falcons to the Super Bowl for only the second time in their history. They memorably lost in overtime to the New England Patriots after giving up a 28-3 lead; the largest ever surrendered in a Super Bowl.
He was 43-42 in his tenure as head coach with the Falcons, and despite seemingly having the locker room behind him, Quinn was let go for underachieving. Replacing him in the interim was Raheem Morris, who went 4-7 during his time there.
It seems as if the team are looking outside of the building for their next head coach and general manager, however. So here is a look at four possible head coach candidates for the Atlanta Falcons.
Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady has had quite a ride over the past three years.
In 2017-2018, Brady was an offensive assistant for the New Orleans Saints under one of the NFL’s best offensive minds in Sean Payton. In 2019 he was hired as Joe Burrow’s passing game coordinator at LSU, coaching him to a CFP National Championship and the single greatest season for a quarterback in the history of college football.
After that brief, but fruitful respite from the NFL, Matt Rhule brought him along as the offensive coordinator in his new regime with the Panthers. Brady helped lead the team to a 5-11 season, which was much better than was expected out of them in the first year of their rebuild.
All told, Brady is a great offensive mind who has studied under some top-tier NFL coaches and was an architect of Joe Burrow’s unreal season that catapulted him to the number one overall pick. Atlanta could do a lot worse than roll the dice with a progressive head coach to pair with Matt Ryan, who is not done yet.
Todd Bowles had an extremely shaky tenure as head coach of the New York Jets. After winning 10 games in his first season (2015), he never won more than five in his last three years. He finished with a 24-40 record in four seasons.
Bowles still holds great respect around the league despite these bad results, though, considering the state of the Jets and of the AFC East as a whole. He is still a productive defensive coordinator, who built good defenses in Arizona and, now, Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers are in the playoffs for the first time in 13 years thanks in part to Bowles’ defense. He has built one of the best run defenses in the league over the past two years and has elevated LaVonte David to one of the most feared pass rushers in the league.
Quinn was also a defensive coordinator before being hired as head coach, so the transition between the two would be relatively seamless. Bowles has the experience necessary to turn this team around and if he has the new GM’s ear, Atlanta could become a defensively-focused team before too long.
There is not much to say about Eric Bieniemy that has not been said TGH’s previous head coaching candidate articles.
Simply, he is the offensive coordinator for what is considered to be the best offense in the NFL. He helped Patrick Mahomes become so productive that he garnered the richest contract in the history of sports. Bieniemy was a key piece in the Chiefs’ Super Bowl run in 2019-2020 and he has studied under one of the premier offensive minds in football in Andy Reid.
Pair him with a tandem like Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, along with a new GM that may listen to him when gathering talent, and the Falcons are in good shape. Bieniemy can have Atlanta back in the playoffs in no time if his skills translate to the head coach position.
Retaining Morris is a great option if the Falcons miss out on their other potential head coach candidates. He knows the team, has a relationship with the players and has won a few games as a head coach already.
This would definitely be a hire for the players, rather than the future. The team played hard for Morris, regardless of their 0-5 record at the time he took over. He very well may be the coach they need, given more talent. But he only has 11 games worth of experience and the team needs a culture shift rather than more of the same.
Morris is a lateral move, but shows care and concern for the players’ wishes in Atlanta. He would also take the job with no questions asked and likely at a discount. This would be a simultaneously risky and safe move, which is interesting.
Featured Image courtesy of Leon Halip/Getty Images
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