One could say that Falcons head coach Dan Quinn’s seat has been getting warm since losing Super Bowl 51.
Blowing a 25 point halftime lead to lose in overtime is enough to strike doubt in anyone. Especially since Quinn was brought in from Seattle in 2015 to shore up the defense. Regardless of the greatness a team is facing, having a defense collapse like that is unacceptable for a defensive-minded coach.
And all of that is just one game. Quinn has had plenty of other gaffes in his career with the Falcons. He has only been to the playoffs twice, collecting a 37-35 record as head coach. This year, Atlanta is 1-7, with their one win coming after a fantastic fourth down conversion. Which is a roundabout way of saying they could very easily be 0-8.
He is also responsible for one of the strangest, most mind-boggling game-losing coaching decisions in NFL history. You can learn more about that call in this video, courtesy of SB Nation.
Quinn’s time is up. He proved he could take an already good team to the Super Bowl, but that is about it. After this 1-7 start, it is time to look for another answer.
Here are some candidates that would make sense as the next coach of the Atlanta Falcons.
It is coming up on a year since McCarthy was unceremoniously fired from the Green Bay Packers. The Packers, and Aaron Rodgers specifically, had enough of his conservative play calling. He became the only Super Bowl-winning coach in NFL history to be fired midseason. That paints a pretty good picture of how “over it” the entire organization truly was.
But with as much playoff experience as McCarthy has, it would be pretty foolish to think he will never coach again. He also has a reputation for working well with quarterbacks. Although his relationship with Rodgers fell apart, he did coach him to a Super Bowl MVP, and then two NFL MVPs.
Matt Ryan needs a new face running the offense to get the most out of his remaining years. McCarthy and his offensive schemes have been predictable in the past, but that could be good for Ryan in a transitional period for the team. Having a solid offensive coach that can utilize the passing game would go a long way in rebuilding his confidence after some soul-crushing seasons.
The Falcons would need a very fresh, innovative offensive coordinator to make this work, though. A play-caller that would move McCarthy away from the safe in favor of the exotic plays and packages the best teams in the NFL now use. And a switch from a defensive-minded head coach to an offensive-minded one would signal a culture change.
If McCarthy is dedicated to changing his ways, this could be a mutually beneficial relationship. It may even have the Falcons back in the playoffs sooner than later.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive coordinator will be one of the hottest commodities for head coaching vacancies this offseason. He has had a hand in crowning Patrick Mahomes as the next best thing in quarterbacking. His team stays very athletic and quick on the offensive side of the ball and he gels with one of the greatest offensive minds in NFL history with Andy Reid.
The Reid connection is likely what will tip the scales to Bieniemy getting a head coaching job. Especially in the era of offense, the NFL is currently experiencing (New England Patriots notwithstanding), front offices are looking for the most creative offenses possible.
Reid coaches a unique offense, and Bieniemy buys in, then takes it to the next level.
It is supremely easy to say that an OC is only as good as his weapons. And Kansas City has the best weapons in the league. But, truly great coordinators take that talent, and elevate it even further. That is what Bieniemy is doing in Kansas City. For example, they were in striking distance of winning their Week 8 matchup against the Packers (one of the best teams in the league) with a quarterback that was not on an NFL roster last year.
To think of what he could do with players like Matt Ryan and Julio Jones is a lot of fun to muse about. He could save this offense, and quickly. Obviously, some defensive talent on the field and on the sidelines will have to be brought in to back it up. But, the Falcons could simply not go wrong with this hire.
No “potential coaching hires” list has been complete without Josh McDaniels since roughly 2012. This is no exception.
Most NFL fans know McDaniels’ pedigree. He has been a part of all six of the Belichick-Brady Super Bowl wins, as either quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator or both. He also held the title of Broncos’ head coach briefly, and agreed to terms to be the Colts’ head coach before backing out and returning to the Patriots.
Sure, McDaniels has always had Brady, but he has not always had the best offenses in general. He makes due with what he has and finds a way to score enough points to win much more often than not.
That last point is what makes him such an attractive candidate for the Falcons job. Whoever takes this job will have to work with what they have. Atlanta does not have a wealth of draft picks, and the talent, while still there is very top-heavy.
The biggest obstacle is prying him away from New England. His tenure with the Broncos was not good, and he earned a lot of ill will by backing out of the Colts position. But, there are rumors that Brady and Belichick are nearing the end of their historic run.
These rumors happen every year, and they have never been true yet. But it does have to happen at some point. If McDaniels truly wants to forge his own path, he will have to start at some point. And with how desperate Atlanta is for a Super Bowl, bringing in six rings’ worth would get the fan base excited quickly.
Featured Image courtesy of Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports
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