Can we finally ignite the hot seat under Dan Quinn?
The Atlanta Falcons lost their final home opener Sunday against divisional rival Tampa Bay 31-24. And it really wasn’t that close.
This has been the typical Falcon loss the past three-plus years that has seen the Falcons take an early lead and then blow it and then expect Matt Ryan to play miracle worker and restore the glory. And when he doesn’t – which has been common the past couple of seasons talk is that Ryan’s contract is too big and he’s not living up to the hype despite being the winningest QB in Atlanta history.
On the other side it was a game or revenge. Dirk Koetter won his first game as a head coach after spending three seasons as Atlanta’s offensive coordinator. And let us not forget to mention the Tampa Bay defensive coordinator, whose defense kept pressure of Ryan sacking him three times. His name? Mike Smith. Remember him? Yep, that’s the same Mike Smith who holds the Atlanta franchise record for most victories. After two down and injury plagued seasons he was unceremoniously shown the door. And to add insult to injury news was released prior to his last game that a firm had been hired by owner Arthur Blank to conduct a search for a coach despite the fact if Atlanta had won that game they would have made the playoffs.
The Mighty Quinn was hired away from the Seattle Seahawks after two straight appearances in the Super Bowl. Quinn was supposedly a defensive genius, however a lot of factors were not taken into consideration when he was hired.
First, most defensive coaches usually are dependent on their offense to win as defense never lives up to the hype. Look at coaches like Don Shula, Tony Dungy, even Bill Belichick, known defensive genius’ are more known for the offense of their latter teams than their defensive prowess.
Second, you can no longer blame GM Thomas Dimitroff unless you need a true scapegoat and continue to point fingers at what is not the real problem. A majority of the draft and free agency was spent on an abundance of defensive players which leads to the true problem – coaching. Yep, pure and simple. You have a bunch of talented players yet no one to get them to work in sync. On offense Quinn has been quiet letting Shanahan take all the blame (which he deserves) and the defense despite a lot of new names and high draft picks let Jameis Winston roam in the pocket pretty much with no eminent danger as he scorched the Atlanta secondary for four touchdowns.
Sunday’s game started just like every other Falcons’ game of recent memory. The two teams exchanged field goals and then Atlanta took a 10-3 lead in the second quarter. Tampa Bay answered with four Winston touchdown passes in a fifteen minute period with Atlanta only able to muster a Matt Bryant field goal as the Bucs raced ahead 31-13. Ryan found Julio Jones and was able to convert a two-point conversion to make the score 31-21. Another Bryant field goals brought the Falcons witin 7 and somehow they managed to get the ball back late.
However, unlike many Matty Ice stories this one did not end with a storybook finale. The offense looked totally out of sync in their final attempt to tie. Ryan completed one pass as the rest fell to the ground thanks poorly run route and passes not on the mark – something rarely seen by Ryan until last season.
To compound things the defense which basically cost their former coach his job and what was supposed to be a priority looks no better as Winston had all the time in the world and was not sacked unlike Ryan who was sacked three times.
It was a bittersweet homecoming for Koetter and Smith who made names for themselves at the Georgia Dome now returning as mortal enemies. And as the dust settled it was Koetter and Smith victorious and Atlanta the victim.
Atlanta takes to the West Coast next week to take on the Oakland Raiders whom pundits are this year’s “it” team. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:25pm and will be aired on CBS.
– Dave Weinthal
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