Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who saw their team start 0-5 for the first time since 1997 after a Sunday loss to the Carolina Panthers, have been fired, the team announced.
Quinn, 50, was in the midst of his sixth season and finished his time in Atlanta with a 43-42 record. He posted back-to-back, 7-9 season heading into this year after taking his team to the Super Bowl during the 2016 campaign with Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator.
Quinn’s playoff record was a 3-2, including a crushing, 34-28 overtime loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI after holding a 28-3 third-quarter lead.
When asked after Sunday’s loss if he would understand owner Arthur Blank deciding to make a change, Quinn said “it’s the furthest thing from my mind.”
“It’s his job to evaluate; for me, it’s coaching,” Quinn said. “And I’ll work as hard as I can to align our team to play like we’re capable of playing.”
Quinn’s job status appeared to be in limbo after a 1-7 start last season, but the Falcons closed the season 6-2 after he surrendered the defensive play-calling and moved wide receivers coach Raheem Morris to defense to work with the defensive backs. Morris and linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich, now the assistant head coach, assumed the defensive play-calling duties from Quinn at that juncture.
The vast 2019 improvement led to owner Arthur Blank announcing he would retain both Quinn and general manager Dimitroff for the 2020 campaign with the expectation of making the playoffs. As part of the agreement, Quinn and Dimitroff had to report to team president Rich McKay.
“Time will tell, but I think based on all the information that we have available to us — based on the way the team is playing, based on the way the coaching staff is leading — that we have every reason to think that the success we’ve had not for one game, but over a seven-game period of time in the back half of the year, there’s no reason to think that’s not sustainable going forward,” Blank said last December when he announced Quinn and Dimitroff would be retained.
However, Quinn did not carry the momentum from the second half of 2019 into this season. The Falcons opened this year by dropping games to Seattle, Dallas, and Chicago, the latter two involving blown fourth-quarter leads of 15-plus points. The Falcons became the first team in NFL history to lose twice in one season while holding a 15-plus-point lead in the fourth quarter, according to Elias.
A big part of the Falcons’ Super Bowl run was the offensive genius of Shanahan, now the coach of the San Francisco 49ers, and the Falcons couldn’t duplicate that offensive success under Steve Sarkisian, who was fired after two seasons, or Dirk Koetter, who was hired by Quinn after being fired as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both Sarkisian and Koetter were asked to maintain the same principles from Shanahan’s high-powered attack, which led the league at 33.8 points per game during the 2016 season.
Quinn and Dimitroff were awarded three-year extensions in July of 2018, extensions that were supposed to run through 2022. Quinn had a 29-19 record at the time of the extension.