By Grant Gordon, NFL.com
Five losses started Dan Quinn’s sixth season as Atlanta Falcons head coach. That 0-5 beginning has also brought about the end to Quinn’s tenure as Falcons head coach.
Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff were fired on Sunday after the Falcons’ 23-16 loss to the Carolina Panthers, the team announced.
In a team statement, the Falcons announced president and CEO Rich McKay has assumed oversight of the teams’ day-to-day operation and that an interim coach is expected to be announced on Monday. In addition, the team announced McKay and owner Arthur Blank would lead the search for a new GM and head coach.
“Decisions like these are very difficult, but the previous two seasons and start to this one have been especially hard for me because of the deep love, admiration and respect I and my family have for Dan, Thomas and their families,” Blank said in the statement. “For many years, they have represented me, our team, organization and Atlanta with class, commitment and all the passion you would want in the leaders of the team. But as everyone knows, this is a results business and I owe it to our fans to put the best product we can on the field. We have poured every resource possible into winning and will continue to do so, but the results of late do not meet our standard or what I’ve promised our fans. Therefore, we will install new coaching and personnel leadership of the Atlanta Falcons at the appropriate time.
“Our finish in 2019 earned an opportunity to show that momentum could be continued and built upon, but that has clearly not happened. And overall, the last three-plus seasons have fallen short of my commitment to Atlanta and to our fans everywhere. I want them all to know that my commitment to winning has not wavered and I will continue to provide every resource possible to that end.”
Following Bill O’Brien’s dismissal as Houston Texans head coach and general manager, Quinn is the second head coach of the 2020 season to be fired and Dimitroff is the second general manager.
“We are moving forward and will do everything we can to help this year’s team win as many games as possible while putting a strong plan in place to execute these important leadership searches with an eye to positioning the Falcons for success well into the future. We owe that to our fans,” McKay said in the statement.
Silver: Why Falcons fired Quinn, Dimitroff after loss in Week 5
Dimitroff departs Atlanta in the midst of an unlucky 13th season, having overseen six playoff berths in his time and the hiring of Quinn. With a squad seen by most as having the talent to succeed, the lackluster results proved otherwise and now a rebuild has begun.
“Thomas Dimitroff has been with us through a lot, including a vast majority of my ownership of the team,” Blank said. “I’ve seen his two beautiful children grow up here and I have great personal affection for him and his family. I’m also grateful for his hard work and contributions to our many successes over the last 10 years. He came in at a time when the franchise needed to rebuild trust in this community. By bringing in Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and several others, we changed the trajectory of the franchise and set us up for a run of success the team had never achieved before. I am very appreciative of Thomas’ many contributions to the Atlanta Falcons and wish him great success in his future pursuits.”
In his five seasons and change in Atlanta, Quinn, 50, leaves one game over .500, having produced a 43-42 record in the regular season. His teams had two playoff trips, highlighted by a trip to the Super Bowl in the 2016 season. Alas, Atlanta has had consecutive losing seasons and hardly appears headed to the postseason dance or above .500 this year.
Blank is regarded for his patience and it was put on display throughout the 2019 season when a talent-laden Falcons squad was rife with injury and defeat. Atlanta began 2019 at 1-7, but Blank stood with Quinn and the Falcons responded by winning six of their final eight games and four in a row to head into the offseason with renewed hope.
But five losses to begin the 2020 season — the first three seeing the Falcons collapse and squander sizable leads — was finally enough for Blank to call upon a new dawn in Georgia.
Having reached the heights of a Super Bowl LI berth to conclude the 2016 season, Quinn’s time coaching in Atlanta stumbled in the wake of the Falcons’ much-bemoaned 34-28 loss to the Patriots in the title game of title games. Having built a now infamous 28-3 lead, the Falcons fell to the most memorable Super Bowl comeback of all-time.
Atlanta was able to return to the playoffs the following season, but 2018 and 2019 followed with 7-9 losing campaigns that fell short of the playoffs and the expectations in reserve for a team with standouts such as Ryan and Jones.
Injuries continue to be problematic for the Falcons, just as much as the perception of potential unrealized and the inability to close out victories does.
Forever shadowed by a Super Bowl fall, the Falcons’ 2020 defeats were a reminder of what was lost long ago and what has failed to be reconstructed. It was the opposition that came back and the Falcons who fell short of closing out victories.
And now, Quinn won’t be closing out the season as the Falcons have made the call to move on.