Make no mistake about it, Dan Quinn is a quality NFL head coach. After all, he did lead the Atlanta Falcons to a Super Bowl appearance in just his second season. Plus, he seems to have a knack for evaluating and identifying talent. With that being said, it’s getting harder and harder to ignore his costly blunders.
The Super Bowl is the most obvious one that comes to mind, and there’s no point in going into something we’re all well aware of now. There is one important lesson (supposedly) that came from that game, though.
“For sure there’s lessons there in game management,” Quinn told Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith following the loss. “Those are lessons that are painful to go through but you have to learn from them”
He’s right, of course — which brings us to the problem. Unfortunately, it seems as though Quinn has not quite learned from that.
Sunday, the Falcons played an important road game against Cleveland. They were 4-4 and needing a win, as they were fighting for their playoff lives. Unfortunately, the Falcons didn’t seem to get that memo before the game. They were completely and utterly dominated for four quarters. The defense looked disinterested and heartless, while the offense looked discombobulated and lethargic. There was zero sense of urgency from the Falcons, something that is absolutely unacceptable for a team that is battling just to get back into the playoff picture.
In a postgame interview with 92.9 The Game, De’Vondre Campbell explained the team’s mindset prior to the game.
“…And you know, I feel like it was one of those situations where, like as a team, we were just like ‘It’s the Cleveland Browns and we didn’t take them serious,” he told Atlanta’s 92.9 The Game following the loss.
Campbell’s statements shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that did watch the game. The team’s failure to play with any heart is indicative of the coaching staff’s message for the past week. Quinn failed to energize a 4-4 team in desperate need of both a win and momentum.
Quinn’s failures extend beyond the greatest collapse in professional sports and the train wreck from Sunday, though. Despite his claim that he learned a valuable lesson in game management, he has had multiple blunders in that area already this season. The most notable one came earlier this season against the Saints. Quinn always harps on staying aggressive, yet the Falcons ran two consecutive draw plays instead of attempting to push the ball down the field at the end of the second half. New Orleans ultimately got the ball back, and with it three more points before half. Essentially, the Falcons essentially gifted them three points in a game that they eventually lost in overtime.
He has a history of poor game management throughout his short head coaching career. In 2016, Quinn was universally mocked for his decision to go for it on 4th-and-one on his own 45 yard line in overtime at home against the Chargers. The Falcons would fail to convert the 4th down, of course. And ultimately, they let yet another game get away.
Unbelievably, the San Diego overtime fiasco wasn’t even the worst mistake of the season from a coaching perspective. A few games later, in Philadelphia, Quinn made a terribly egregious decision late in the game. The Eagles were up by six with under two minuets left in the game. Therefore they made the decision to run the ball, prompting Atlanta to call a timeout with 2:12 remaining. They ran the ball two more times, with the Falcons calling two more timeouts before the two-minute warning. So Quinn burned all three of the Atlanta’s timeouts between 2:12 and the two-minute warning. This includes taking one at 2:01.
Thanks to one of the most embarrassing coaching decisions in recent memory, the Eagles would kick a field goal and win by two scores.
Dan Quinn is a fine NFL head coach. Even so, he has made a number of outrageous coaching mistakes. Under his watch, the Falcons have blown several leads, mismanaged games, and had complete meltdowns. Quinn is responsible for squandering Atlanta’s best shot at a championship in two decades. Not to mention, the biggest collapse in professional sports. That is a fire-able offense in itself.
Unfortunately, he continues to make embarrassing coaching mistakes time and time again. Now it’s time to question whether or not Dan Quinn is the long-term answer for the Falcons.