We had been led to believe that the man who started this season as head coach / defensive coordinator of the Falcons had managed not to get fired when his team had reached the mid-point of the season after winning a draw. It turns out that it was half true. It turns out that Dan Quinn, head coach, resigned Dan Quinn, defensive coordinator.
Rip the Falcons all you want. But while you are tearing up, ask yourself this: Do not you entertain?
No NFL team, perhaps no team in all sports, can compete with that for convolution. You can not know who does what without a scorecard, and even then, you do not know if the week's service list will remain unchanged. The Falcons, who spent half a season beating almost no one and looking awful, showed up on Sunday at the Superdome and routed the Saints 7-1. How did it happen? More specifically, who did the coaching? And there is suspended a tale.
Quinn said on Wednesday: "I'll hear all the calls, obviously. But we certainly rely on (linebacker coach) Jeff Ulbrich on all calls in first and second runs, and we transferred Raheem Morris to high school and he was a big part of the calls for the third and the red zone. Throughout the planning, Jerome Henderson (secondary coach) plays an important role in passing games. That's how we made it progress. "
Then: "During the game, (anybody could ask)" Dan, what do you think? "If there's a call, I think we should change, we'll do it, we're really collaborating, but I definitely support more about Jeff and Rah, and why would not I?" guys are capable and ready and doing a good job – so certainly more than ever. "
As we know, the Falcons organization chart is loaded with chutes and ladders. Three former NFL executive directors are working here, a number that has already reached five. Thomas Dimitroff, long-time managing director, continues to cling to his job as a serious death. Among the last six men to occupy the position of offensive coordinator – this dates back to 2004, the first and only good season of Jim Mora – three are on the staff. Dirk Koetter is on his second tour as O.C., the first has improved. Then there is Morris, who is 43 years old and had a fascinating career.
He was ready to move from defensive assistant to defensive coordinator in Tampa Bay for the 2009 season. When Jon Gruden was fired, Morris was sent back to the head coach. His first team started at 0-7. It lasted three seasons. He came here in 2015 to coach the defensive back and serve as H.C. assistant under Quinn. Before the 2016 season, Morris – a career defensive man – was transferred to a wide receiver coach. Until last week, that's where he stayed.
In the end, Quinn announced that Morris had been reassigned to the post of defensive back coach, which caused a Wait / What moment. If Morris was, as Quinn said, the greatest communicator since Walter Cronkite, why had he not had more responsibilities in the past four years? Why, when Quinn dismissed Marquand Manuel as a defensive coordinator, did he not make Morris the D.C. (In another of these inherent difficulties in this organization, the Morris offensive was motivated by the urgent need to leave Manuel on the defensive team.)
Instead of engaging a real defensive coordinator, D.Q. the H.C. decided that he should be D.Q. the Dc too. Of all the choices he has made in the past five years, it may be the worst. The defense of Falcons, bad last year, has worsened. After losing 53-32 to Houston, Quinn rethought the Arizona-trained squad. (Where he would lose again.)
He later conceded that, as early as the Arizona match, defensive signal calls had become more of a collaborative effort, with lending hands from Ulbrich and Henderson. Two other losses followed. Then came the start, which saw the Falcons at 1-7, but Quinn remains in place. Although not, as it turned out, exactly or entirely in place.
He remains, he said Wednesday, in conjunction with the defensive line, which managed six bags of Drew Brees Sunday. In eight previous games, the Falcons had collected seven sacks. Quinn compared the community self-scout with a group of mechanics who "looked under the hood to see what was not working …". Close the hood. Start it. It sounds better. "
What happened in New Orleans could have been a dead cat bounce. Ulbrich, however, thinks bigger. "Everything we want to accomplish is always there for us," he said of the 2-7 Falcons. "We are creating a story we want to be part of."
Should such sudden optimism be attributed to coaching machinations? Ulbrich said, "There is a big problem about nothing. (Quinn is) still a big part of the meetings. He always plays an important role in the decisions made during the matches. "
Something, however, was different about the Sunday Falcons and the role of an NFL head coach can never be ruled out. By not trying to micromanage the defense, Quinn thinks he can better understand the situation as a whole.
"I did not think our whole team was where I wanted to go, so I can be in the spaces where I may not have been," he said. "I wanted to recognize myself first. Certainly, I do not have ego as big as our team. "
Then: "This is the most important thing: how to do the best job possible for our players. That's what I thought was the best right now. That's why I asked Jeff and Raheem to play a bigger role. And, as you expected, they took up the challenge with strength.
And here's the organizational update this week: The head coach is the head coach again. What will these people think next?
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