NFL coaches with tenures that last long enough can often look back on a career filled with ups and downs, peaks and valleys.
That means when someone like, say, Marvin Lewis is let go in Cincinnati, or Jason Garrett in Dallas, it’s tough to look back and pick out exactly what the high point is. For Falcons coach Dan Quinn, though, it’s going to end up being pretty obvious not just which season, or even which game, served as the tallest peak. Instead, it was pretty clearly when his Falcons led the Patriots 28-3 in the Super Bowl (sorry Atlanta fans), and it’s been pretty much all downhill from there.
Today, after a fifth consecutive loss to start the season (this time a 23-16 defeat to the Panthers), it appears that Quinn is finally on his way out.
The Falcons' firing of Dan Quinn has been all but finalized and an announcement could come Monday or Tuesday, a source told @TheAthletic. The Falcons have started 0-5 for the first time since 1997 and Quinn is 14-23 since 2018. @TheAthleticNFL
— Jeff Schultz (@JeffSchultzATL) October 11, 2020
After that Super Bowl season, Quinn went 10-6, winning one playoff game before losing to the eventual champion Eagles. Then back-to-back years of 7-9 in 2018 and 2019 and a horrible start to an admittedly weird 2020 season, and he’s out.
Typically, there’s an argument to be made for in-season continuity, especially given all of the pandemic weirdness. But at 0-5, Atlanta doesn’t really have anything to lose here anyway. It’s a reminder that while it’s important not to overreact in a league that consists entirely of small-sample sizes, it’s also not necessarily bad to make a move. The Falcons could be into year one of their next phase, but instead stuck with Quinn despite some very disappointing years.
Beyond that, there was essentially a signature Dan Quinn loss, best exemplified by the Super Bowl but brought back in memorable fashion twice already this season: blowing a game that should have been an easy victory. They started well enough against the Bears to get Mitch Trubisky benched, but then allowed Nick Foles to lead a huge comeback win. And that was a week after their impossible loss to the Cowboys, which featured the lasting image of Falcons players standing around and allowing an onside kick to spin freely to the point where Dallas could recover.
It had become a cliche, with Atlanta fans every week on Twitter laughing about the impending doom no matter how well a game began. And now, with those two solid seasons feeling like decades ago, they’ll finally have a new coach.
It just won’t be in time to save their current season.
UPDATE: The Falcons announced on Sunday night that they have fired head coach Dan Quinn *and* general manager Thomas Dimitroff.
BREAKING NEWS: General Manager Thomas Dimitroff and Head Coach Dan Quinn have been relieved of their duties, effective immediately.
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) October 12, 2020