The Atlanta Falcons had aspirations of being playoff contenders in 2018, but it all went horribly wrong for Dan Quinn’s team.
Atlanta is sitting at 5-9 and planning for next season, and while Quinn appears to be safe as head coach, the same cannot be said for offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian or defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel.
NFL Network is reporting there’s a “strong possibility” that both Sarkisian and Manuel, the latter a former Seattle Seahawks player and member of Pete Carroll’s coaching staff, could be fired. Manuel has admittedly had to deal with several injuries to key players, but they were 22nd in DVOA last year and 32nd this year. Quinn in particular has yet to field an above-average defense in four seasons as Falcons head coach.
Sarkisian was much-maligned despite producing the #9 ranked offense in DVOA in 2017, but red-zone woes felled the Falcons in several games, including the playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last year. In 2018, they sit 10th in DVOA, but 26th in rushing, and they failed to score more than 20 points in their fatal five-game losing streak.
If Manuel goes, it’s assumed that Quinn will assume larger control of the defense, but as for Sarkisian’s replacement? It could be ex-Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell.
“If indeed ‘Sark’ is out, one name to keep in mind is former Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell,” Tom Pelissero said. “He knows Quinn well from their days together in Seattle. Bevell, I’m told, was actually in the building in Atlanta this past spring doing some work with the coaching staff. He stayed in close touch with Dan Quinn, knows the type of offense they want to run. It would not be a huge departure in terms of their running game, although certainly there would be some different things he would bring to the table schematically as they try to get the MVP from a couple years ago -- Matt Ryan -- and all those weapons back on track.”
Bevell was fired by the Seahawks after the 2017 season, having been Seattle’s OC since 2011. He was interviewed earlier in the year for the vacant QB coach position in Atlanta, but obviously didn’t get the job, and was not picked up by any NFL team over the offseason.
Quinn and Bevell were the coordinators for Seattle’s two Super Bowl trips, so the reuniting may still yet happen. Next season is a pivotal one for Quinn, as his tenure with Atlanta is surely defined by collapses. His first year saw him go from 6-1 to 8-8 and no playoffs. The second year... 28-3 happened. This year they squandered 4th quarter leads against the Eagles, Bengals, and Saints to get out of the gate 1-3, and they’ve spent the entire season at or below .500 for the first time since 2013.
It’s certainly something that Quinn, the much-celebrated DC when he was in Seattle, is the one under pressure while Kris Richard, fired along with Bevell and oft-criticized as Quinn’s replacement, has become a popular name as a potential head coach after helping transform the Dallas Cowboys defense to a top-10 DVOA ranking.