Quinn says he welcomes what lies ahead for Falcons
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Dan Quinn knows that 2019 might be his last chance to get it right as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.
He embraces what lies ahead after firing his offensive, defensive and special teams coordinators. Falcons owner Arthur Blank expects the team to return to the playoffs next season, and Quinn believes he’s still the man for the job.
Quinn has already interviewed two candidates for the offensive job and hopes to announce a hire within “one to two weeks.” He will serve as his own defensive coordinator and still has the final say on all game-day and roster decisions.
“Quite honestly, you want that weight because that’s what leading is,” Quinn said Thursday. “I don’t feel it any more now than the day I took the job, but it’s part of the job that I like. I would say that. Feeling that and knowing you can count on somebody for that role. I take that responsibility really seriously.”
Following a 7-9 record that left his team out of the playoffs for the first time in three years, Quinn dismissed offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong. The Falcons were eliminated following a five-game losing streak that began with an embarrassing blowout at Cleveland and ended in Week 13 at Green Bay.
Sarkisian’s dismissal was less surprising than Manuel’s and Armstrong’s, but Quinn felt the need for a big overhaul at the top of his staff. Atlanta had the NFL’s fourth-best passing attack but finished 27th in rushing. The defense tied for worst in third-down percentage and was eighth-worst in scoring average. The Falcons ranked 27th in punt return average.
“The thing that became clear to me in some regards is that the compass was off in terms of the identity and style that we’d like to play, so we had to reset that,” Quinn said. “In order to do that, adding some new voices and some new direction is needed, and this is that time. Making changes from the coaching side is one of the toughest parts of my job.”
Speaking to a roomful of media members, Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff covered a wide range of topics:
— Six-time Pro Bowl receiver Julio Jones and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett are about to get lucrative, new contracts. Quinn and Dimitroff were less clear on whether the Falcons want to pick up an option on defensive end Vic Beasley’s deal.
— The team would like to re-sign running back Tevin Coleman, a valuable backup to oft-injured starter Devonta Freeman, but it is unclear how much salary cap room will be left after Jones and Jarrett re-up as expected.
— Quinn, who has the final say on football-related personnel matters, said quarterback Matt Ryan will be consulted about the offensive coordinator hire but will have no impact on the coach’s decision. The Falcons will keep their outside and inside zone-blocking scheme.
— Dirk Koetter, a former Falcons offensive coordinator who worked well with Ryan, will interview this weekend after getting fired as Tampa Bay’s head coach. Quinn also has interest in former Seattle coordinator Darrell Bevell and former Falcons coordinator and NFL head coach Mike Mularkey.
The Falcons have fired tight ends coach Wade Harman. He and Armstrong were the last holdovers on coach Mike Smith’s staff. Quinn replaced Smith in February 2015.
“As I cast a wide net, you better make sure you’re going through the process that you can to explore all avenues,” Quinn said. “What I can say, there’s a lot of people that want to be here. There were a lot of calls, I could say, of people that wanted to be part of this.”