Firing Line: Dan Quinn Guides Falcons to Worst-Franchise Status

Top of the Hot Seat: After blowing back to back double digit leads in the fourth quarter, mainly Falcons fans feel it’s time to cut Dan Quinn go

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Top of the Hot Seat: After blowing back to back double digit leads in the fourth quarter, mainly Falcons fans feel it’s time to cut Dan Quinn go

For all Atlanta football fans, Super Bowl 51 was an impossible pill to swallow. Through the mass amounts of internet memes and trolling for arguably the biggest choke job in sports history, the team and the fans alike have never quite been able to recover. The Falcons have continued to blow double-digit leads every season since the Super Bowl, reinforcing the Dirty Birds as one of the laughing stocks of the league. Just when it seemed to get bad enough, the Falcons have already set several astronomically embarrassing records this season for blowing leads. We are four games into the season. Since the Super Bowl, several team factors have remained present, including an MVP quarterback, a talented offense, and a defense incapable of stopping anyone. However, most importantly, the man at the head of it all has not changed, and the choking woes won’t change either until the coach does. Ultimately, Dan Quinn must go. 

The 2020 NFL season thus far has not been kind to Falcons fans. Although hopes for the team’s record were not necessarily high anyways, the team has actually looked impressive in most of their games thus far — in the first three quarters. Against the Dallas Cowboys, the Falcons forced three fumbles in just the first quarter, and jumped out to an early 20-0 lead. The lead slowly withered away as the game went on, however following a field goal to put the Dirty Birds up 15 with eight minutes to go, losing seemed almost impossible. Almost. The Falcons then proceeded to allow the Cowboys to score two quick touchdowns in six minutes. However the Cowboys did not get a two point conversion on their first touchdown, meaning they still needed a third possession to take the lead. All Atlanta had to do with two minutes left in the game was grab an onside kick, which teams last year did 87 percent of the time. However, on seemingly one of the worst special teams plays in team history, the Falcons watched and waited for the ball to go 10 yards instead of hopping on it immediately. The Cowboys then recovered and kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired. That special teams play showed that the players on the field for the kick were not properly coached for that situation, pinning a lot of the blame for that game on DQ. After last Sunday, the Falcons became the first team in NFL history to score 39 points, have no turnovers, and lose. Teams in the past were 440-0.   

 Although last week’s performance seemed like enough to call for Quinn to be cut from the team, he still kept his job for the home matchup against the 2-0 Bears. Once again, the Falcons started off strong, shutting down the Bears offense and putting up 26 points through three quarters. The Bears benched starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky and replaced him with Super Bowl 52 MVP Nick Foles midway through the third quarter. Following a controversial interception in the Falcons’ favor on Foles’ first drive, a 16-point lead with possession of the ball seemed like more than enough to win. Unfortunately, all Falcons fans knew it wasn’t really over, this had happened too many times before. And they were right. After moving the ball with ease against a stingy defense for the first half, the Falcons played a much more conservative offense in the final quarter, and consequently had a net total of one yard through their first three possessions to start the fourth quarter. Furthermore, they allowed a middling Bears offense to score three touchdowns over roughly four minutes off of broken tackles and blown coverages. The Falcons, now down 30-26 after leading by 16 five minutes earlier, still had another chance to try and redeem yet another blown lead with under two minutes left. Sadly, after gaining the first first downs of the quarter, Matt Ryan threw an ugly interception to Teshaun Gipson. This game set yet another record, as Atlanta became the first team in NFL history to ever blow 15+ point leads in the fourth quarter in back to back weeks.  

The team had another lackluster showing for game four this past Monday and dropped one to the Green Bay Packers by the score of 16 to 30. 

Despite their stunning starts against relatively tough opponents, the Falcons now sit at the bottom of the NFL standings with an 0-4 record following last week’s horrendous fourth quarter performance on both sides of the ball against the Chicago Bears. With an offense that is stacked with 10 first round picks and multiple All-Pro players, there is no excuse to gain a total of one yard on three possessions. Furthermore, there is no reason the defense should rank at the bottom of the league year after year with a “defensive-minded head coach.” Through the last four years, one clear thing has been made evident though. Dan Quinn simply does not know how to finish a game. Even since the Super Bowl, the Falcons have blown 10 significant leads, and it has become the sole thing the franchise is known for now. Atlanta is definitely among the ranks of the most embarrassing NFL franchises, and if fans ever want anything to change, it has to start up top. Dan Quinn needs to go.