Dan Quinn fired as Falcons coach after 0-5 start, GM Thomas Dimitroff fired as well


Dan Quinn isn’t being given another chance to save his job.

Quinn survived slow starts in 2018 and 2019, but an 0-5 start this season with two horrible fourth-quarter collapses was too much. Quinn was fired five games into his sixth season as Falcons coach. He finishes his run with the Falcons 43-42. The team announced the news Sunday night.

The Falcons also said general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who had been with the team since 2008, was fired. Team president Rich McKay will oversee football operations on an interim basis. An interim coach will be announced Monday, the Falcons said.

Quinn was very close to being a legend in Atlanta. In the 2016 season, he took the Falcons to the championship game and they famously led Super Bowl LI 28-3 in the second half. The game fell apart as the New England Patriots came back and won in overtime. Eventually, Quinn’s tenure as Falcons coach fell apart, too.

Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn's team blew huge leads in back-to-back weeks. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn's team blew huge leads in back-to-back weeks. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Falcons off to brutal 0-5 start

The Falcons’ season couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start. They lost in Week 1, as the Seattle Seahawks blew them out. In Week 2, they had an inexplicable loss to the Dallas Cowboys after having a 19-point lead in the second half. Team owner Arthur Blank said he didn’t think the players knew what to do on a key onside kick late in the game, which wasn’t good news for Quinn.

Everything seemed fine in Week 3. The Falcons led 26-10 in the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bears. Then, amazingly, the wheels came off again. The Bears scored three touchdowns in the final six-and-a-half minutes and won 30-26. Elias Sports said no other team in NFL history has blown two 15-point fourth-quarter leads in an entire season. The Falcons did it in back-to-back weeks.

Of course, it’s not the worst blown lead in Falcons history. The Super Bowl collapse against the Patriots will live forever in NFL lore. But what the Falcons managed to do in those two games was historically bad, too.

Week 4 brought another loss, a 30-16 defeat to the Green Bay Packers when the Falcons never led. At least the Falcons led for a little while in Week 5, but once they lost it to the Carolina Panthers in the second quarter, they never got it back. That 23-16 loss put the Falcons at 0-5 to start the season.

Blank said in a statement that Quinn was “everything you would want in a man, coach, teacher or neighbor,” and while that might have helped Quinn save his job the past couple years, the 0-5 start was impossible to ignore.

“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,” Blank said in a statement. “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. But as everyone knows, this is a results business and I owe it to our fans to put the best product we can on the field. We have poured every resource possible into winning and will continue to do so, but the results of late do not meet our standard or what I’ve promised our fans. Therefore, we will install new coaching and personnel leadership of the Atlanta Falcons at the appropriate time.

“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 three-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.”

Falcons having third straight bad start

Quinn’s Falcons career hasn’t been great since the Super Bowl loss. The Falcons were 4-9 in 2018, though they won their final three games to make the final record look a little better. After that disappointing 2018 season, Quinn fired his offensive, defensive and special teams coordinators. He looked done after a 1-7 start last season, but Blank stuck with him and the Falcons won six of their last eight games.

That was enough to give Quinn another season. But the start to the 2020 season was brutal.

The Falcons job might not be that attractive. It’s a franchise that has never won a Super Bowl. Quarterback Matt Ryan will be 36 next season and is not having a good year. Julio Jones will be 32, an age in which receivers start to decline. There isn’t a ton of talent on the roster, especially on defense.

Blank just needed to make a change, and figure out if someone else can get the Falcons turned around.

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