Dan Quinn, GM Thomas Dimitroff Fired by Falcons After 0-5 Start to 2020 Season

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2020

Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn walks the sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
John Bazemore/Associated Press

The Atlanta Falcons fired head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff on Sunday after a 23-16 defeat to the Carolina Panthers dropped them to 0-5 to start the 2020 NFL season.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank discussed the decisions in a statement:

"Decisions like these are very difficult, but the previous two seasons and start to this one have been especially hard for me because of the deep love, admiration and respect I and my family have for Dan, Thomas and their families. For many years, they have represented me, our team, organization and Atlanta with class, commitment and all the passion you would want in the leaders of the team.

"Our finish in 2019 earned an opportunity to show that momentum could be continued and built upon, but that has clearly not happened. And overall, the last 3-plus seasons have fallen short of my commitment to Atlanta and to our fans everywhere. I want them all to know that my commitment to winning has not wavered and I will continue to provide every resource possible to that end."

According to Albert Breer of Monday Morning Quarterback, Falcons President Rich McKay will oversee day-to-day football operations for the remainder of the season. The team will reportedly announce an interim head coach Monday, with defensive coordinator Raheem Morris a "strong candidate," per Breer.

Vaughn McClure of ESPN noted offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich are also candidates for the job.

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Shortly after the game, The Athletic's Jeff Schultz reported Quinn was on his way out, with a formal announcement likely coming within a matter of days. Owner Arthur Blank, however, initially declined to comment on Quinn's job security.

"When we have something to say, I'll say it," Blank told D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday.

The Falcons didn't wait much longer, however, to part ways with Quinn.

Whenever the team owner has to make a public commitment for the season ahead, the head coach is almost always on borrowed time. Once the Falcons blew 20- and 16-point leads in consecutive weeks, a coaching change was inevitable.

Some within the fanbase will argue Quinn's ouster was overdue.

To some extent, Quinn has yet to fully escape the embarrassment of throwing away a 28-3 lead in the second half of Super Bowl LI. The sting of that loss will continue to linger until the moment the Falcons lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the first time.

The franchise's steadily diminishing returns are what did Quinn in, though. Immediately after that Super Bowl run, Atlanta won 10 games but finished third in the NFC South in 2017 before back-to-back seven-win seasons.

Nothing is more emblematic of the Falcons' slide than their offense. The Falcons averaged the second-most yards in 2016 and ranked first in offensive efficiency, per Football Outsiders.

Julio Jones has been hobbled by a hamstring injury, but Atlanta still has Matt Ryan, Calvin Ridley and Todd Gurley. There's no reason the unit should be in the bottom half of the league, and it's a problem that has persisted well before 2020.

Dimitroff's exit comes after he spent more than a decade with the organization, as he was hired as GM in January 2008. When Dimitroff took over, the team was coming off a 4-12 performance and a last-place finish in the NFC South. While drafting Ryan No. 3 overall with his first-ever pick in 2008, Dimitroff pieced together a roster that immediately won 11 games and reached the postseason.

The Falcons made the playoffs six times during Dimitroff's stint, reaching the NFC Championship Game in the 2012 season and the Super Bowl four years later. Despite coming close with Super Bowl LI, Dimitroff was not able to deliver a Lombardi Trophy.

Quinn and Dimitroff's tenures ran their courses, and moving on from that regime is an acknowledgment this will be a lost season.