By D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
(CNT) City News And Talk #atlanta-ga
Falcons coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff were fired by the team late Sunday night.
Falcons president and CEO Rich McKay has assumed day-to-day oversight of football operations in the interim and will assist owner Arthur Blank in the search for a new general manager and head coach.
Under the direction of McKay, Dimitroff’s current responsibilities will be handled by current members of the football operations staff for remainder of 2020. An interim head coach is expected to be announced Tuesday.
Former head coaches Raheem Morris and Dirk Koetter are on the staff.
“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 released by the team. “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,” Blank continued. “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.”
The Falcons dropped to 0-5 on Sunday after a 23-16 loss to the Carolina Panthers. The Falcons are set to face the Vikings at 1 p.m. Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
“We are moving forward and will do everything we can to help this year’s team win as many games as possible while putting a strong plan in place to execute these important leadership searches with an eye to positioning the Falcons for success well into the future. We owe that to our fans,” McKay said in a statement.
Dimitroff joined the Falcons in 2008 and played a key role in a period of success unmatched in Falcons history. Since his arrival the Falcons have won 109 games, been to the playoffs six times and won the NFC championship in 2016.
Dimtiroff’s drafts have landed Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Jake Matthews, Grady Jarrett, and Deion Jones. But his repeated misses along the offensive and defenses lives left Ryan in trouble and the inability to rush the opposing passers.
In 2009, he drafted defensive tackle Peria Jerry over edge rusher Clay Matthews Jr., who went on to win the defensive player of the year and a Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers. He also drafted Vic Beasley over running back Todd Gurley, who he eventually signing him this offseason as a free agent.
He also drafted defensive end Takk McKinley over T.J. Watt, who went on to become a Pro Bowl player.
Quinn has led the Falcons since the 2015 season with a 43-42 record.
In 2016 the Falcons finished 11-5 and won the NFC championship over the Green Bay Packers before falling to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI after blowing a 28-3 lead.
Quinn did and solid job the following year and returned to the playoffs. They defeated the Los Angeles Rams on the road in the NFC wilddard game before losing to the Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional playoff. A potential game-winning drive stalled on the 1-yard line. The Eagles went on to win the Super Bowl
“Dan Quinn represents everything you would want in a man, coach, teacher or neighbor,” Blank said. “He is a man of integrity, character and determination. He’s also a friend anyone would like to have. While we have not achieved the results we all expect, I’m very proud of how Dan has represented all of us and the passion he has poured into leading our team. Dan and Stacey have also given back so much to our community, particularly those serving in the military and their families. They will always have my gratitude and our best wishes for all the very best in the future.”
Dimitroff was retained after the team fired coach Mike Smith, the winningest coach in team history.
“Thomas Dimitroff has been with us through a lot, including a vast majority of my ownership of the team,” Blank said. “I’ve seen his two beautiful children grow up here and I have great personal affection for him and his family.
“I’m also grateful for his hard work and contributions to our many successes over the last 10 years. He came in at a time when the franchise needed to rebuild trust in this community. By bringing in Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and several others, we changed the trajectory of the franchise and set us up for a run of success the team had never achieved before. I am very appreciative of Thomas’ many contributions to the Atlanta Falcons and wish him great success in his future pursuits.”
With speculation rampant over the firing of Quinn after the team dropped to 0-5 Sunday, Blank declined an interview request by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to discuss the matter after the game.
When reached later via text by the AJC, Blank replied, “When we have something to say. I’ll say it.”
A downcast Quinn was not concerned about his future after the loss to the Panthers. He was ask if he would understand if Blank decided to go in a different direction.
“Honestly, it’s the furthest thing from my mind,” Quinn said. “It’s his job to evaluate, but for me it’s coaching, and I’ll work as hard as I can to align our team to play like we’re capable of playing.”
Should fans still have faith in Quinn? Should the locker room have his back?
“I think everyone has coach Quinn’s back,” center Alex Mack said. “He takes care of us. Each week we show up with the right mindset and ready to play hard. We just need to play better. I think the effort is there. Everyone is working hard. We just need to perform in those small little moments, just a little bit better.”
The Falcons are off to their third consecutive slow start under Quinn, who’s only the second coach to guide the team to the Super Bowl.
In 2018, the team lost four of its first five games before finishing with a 7-9 record. That team was beset with injuries and never recovered. Last season, the Falcons were 1-7 in the first half of the season and 6-2 in the second half to again finish 7-9.
Blank elected to stick with Quinn after last season with the hopes that continuity was the best course for the franchise. He stated repeatedly that he expected the Falcons to be competitive in 2020 and earn a playoff berth. With the expanded playoffs, the Falcons needed to get in gear with a win over the Panthers.
The Falcons have not played inspired football in 2020.
They blew two double-digit fourth-quarter leads and were widely ridiculed when they didn’t fall on an onside kick at the end of the Dallas game. That miscue led to a 40-39 loss.
While promoting his new book “Good Company,” Blank spoke about that play. He said he thought the players didn’t know what to do, which went against statements made by Quinn and special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica.