I know I’ve spent the past few weeks whinging — it’s a British word that means pretty much as it sounds — about the Atlanta Falcons’ offseason moves. (To recap: No, I don’t understand why Thomas Dimitroff wasn’t fired along with Mike Smith, and no, I don’t get this front-office “restructuring” that leaves Scott Pioli to do the scouting but leaves Dimitroff with final say over personnel.) But now for something completely different:
I have no problem — none — with the coach they’re about to hire. Or, depending on semantics, have already hired. Dan Quinn’s a good choice, probably the best choice they could have made. There’ll be no quibbling/whinging from this sector. It’s a good move.
Do I think Quinn will do better in his first five seasons than Mike Smith did in his? Probably not, but that’s a high bar. (Smith was 56-24 over that span.) Do I think Quinn will do better in his first two seasons than Smith did in the past two? Yes, but improving on 10-22 isn’t much of an achievement, either.
The salient question: Are the Falcons better positioned to win the Super Bowl with Quinn than with Smith? And the only real answer to that is a definite maybe. Quinn has never been a head coach — neither had Smith before coming here — but has been the defensive coordinator for a Seattle team that has won one Super Bowl and could well win another. (Smith was an assistant coach when the Baltimore Ravens won a Super Bowl, but he wasn’t a coordinator.)
My hope for Quinn is that Arthur Blank allows him to do his job. Under the “restructuring,” the head coach reports directory to the owner. Even when the coach reported to the general manager, the Falcons owner was so hands-on that he required personal Monday briefings and sat on the front row for postgame press conferences. (I’ve yet to see another NFL owner do that, and it was always my impression that Blank’s presence kept Smith from saying much of anything, not he was disposed to say much anyway.)
You can’t spend five minutes around the Falcons without being reminded that this is Arthur Blank’s team. My hope is that this overbearing owner will allow it to become Dan Quinn’s team.