Quinn does what he needed to do – find a better defensive coordinator

Richard Smith, former DC. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

Richard Smith, former DC. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

The team that came within an eyelash of winning the Super Bowl will start 2017 with new offensive and defensive coordinators. The offensive part I get: Kyle Shanahan is now the 49ers’ head coach. The defensive part …

Well, I get that, too.

Richard Smith was the Falcons’ defensive coordinator until this morning. His defense ranked 25th in yards against, 27th in points yielded. There was a better defensive coordinator on the staff. His name: Dan Quinn. Only three months ago, this correspondent suggested that DQ needed to be calling defensive signals during games.

Update: According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Quinn actually did that. If so, score one for ol’ MB.

There’s thought that the Falcons will bump up Marquand Manuel or Jerome Henderson. They like both a lot. As for Smith: He always seemed something of a journeyman. (He’d previously been DC in Miami and Houston.) Here, from a preview of the October Falcons-Packers game by Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, is this recap of Smith’s five seasons before this one: “Smith’s defenses ranked 18th, 24th, 24th, 22nd and 16th in yards allowed, and 15th, tied for 25th, tied for 22nd, 27th and 14th in points allowed.”


That’s not Buddy Ryan stuff, is it? And, whoever was calling the defenses, it wasn’t quite championship stuff, was it? We can’t yet know if this firing was the result of the Falcons’ Epic Collapse in the Super Bowl, but the reality is this: The Falcons seemed to have a handle on the Patriots for much of the game and were surely worn down by having to defend 93 snaps, but they wound up yielding 546 yards and 37 first downs.

No, the defense had nothing to do with Shanahan’s two fourth-quarter whiffs — the pass on third-and-1 that became a sack/fumble and the pass on second-and-11 while in field goal range that became a sack — but these were the Patriots’ final five possessions: Touchdown, field goal, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown. After taking a 28-3 lead, the Falcons were outpointed 31-nil.

It’s always risky to tamper with success, but I’d suggest the Falcons’ defense wasn’t exactly successful over the course of this season. It got better as it went. It made plays down the stretch and in the playoffs. But this would, from a statistical standpoint, have been among the worst defenses ever to become a Super Bowl champ. Which it didn’t quite.

I have no issue with this move. Actually, I applaud it.

Sorrowful Super stuff:

The Falcons lose the most Atlanta game ever.

After further review, the Falcons’ collapse was as awful as it seemed.

Their Super collapse could stunt the young Falcons’ growth.

Reader Comments 0

30 comments
CardiganBoy
CardiganBoy

DQ offered his support of the decision to throw rather than run during the debacle that was the first-down-at-the NE-22-yard-line series.  


Seems the culprit was flawed execution, not play calling.  Simple: the fellas on the field just didn't carry out the plan.


If that sounds eerily familiar, it should.  Bobby Cox used the same rationale often.  


When Bobby was asked to explain pitching to Barry Bonds with the game on the line, he defended it as good strategy.  We had the right pitch, but his location was bad - too far out over the plate. Oh well. 


These DQ Falcons act and sound a good bit like Bobby's Braves.

That doesn't bode well for a devastated fan base  looking for solace in the  wait-until-next-year tweets coming from MR2 and the PR department.


It's too soon to give up, but if the Falcons are trying to emulate the Braves' postseason model, they couldn't have done a much better job than Sunday.


In fact, the pupil may have plumbed new depths in figuring, then justifying, new ways to snatch defeat from near-certain victory.


Falcaints
Falcaints

The defense gave up 31 straight points.  Regardless of what the offense did or did not do, the defense failed.

CardiganBoy
CardiganBoy

@Falcaints How many times  did the Falcons' offense score during NE's 31 point skein? 


Did we even attempt a FG?

ImaNitwit
ImaNitwit

Never have read comments by so many whiners, except after Dawg losses. 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@ImaNitwit

When your team FAILS to win a championship during its entire 51-year history, you've earned the right to whine.

Or to be a loser like you--perpetually satisfied with mediocrity and also-ran status.

Nitwit indeed.

douglasT
douglasT

The defense looked pitiful in letting New England score two consecutive two point conversions. They scored too easily. I think the success rate for 2 point plays are usually less than 50%.

DerekGator
DerekGator

Agree with most posters, the SB loss was not the defenses fault, the offense couldn't get first downs in the 2nd half and screwed the pooch by knocking themselves out of field goal range. 

UGA76
UGA76

I agree that we blew it by not going with 3 running plays from the 22.  One should have been an end around with Gabriel.  If we do that, I think we win the game by 3 because after NE scores they would have tried an onside kick.  Sanu seems to be magic at recovering onside kicks.

However, many a wise NFL talent scout said that Atlanta was putting together a very fast but way undersized defense.  The face that those defensive players throughout the season seemed to run out of gas in the second half of games seems to be at least a valid point to consider going forward.  

NE had two weeks to study our team.  We have to give them credit for spotting that Atlanta would wear down in the second half and they just exploited it.  Many a great coach has been out-coached by Belichick.   

Okeetee
Okeetee

Let's be perfectly clear on this: The Superbowl was NOT lost on the defensive side of the ball!  In fact, the Falcon defense was way better than we could have imagined in the 1st half and produced numerous 3 and outs, a pick 6 AND a fumble recovery after stripping the ball!  That being said, going into next season we will just by experience and a few tweaks be better on defense than we were this past year during the season.  What needed to happen is what happened!  We put Shanahan on a Grey Hound bus and pointed it toward the West Coast!  But there's plenty of blame to go around, with both Quinn and Ryan next in line!  Quinn is the HEAD COACH and has the final say on plays called.  Ryan is a "seasoned vet" and could have overruled both with an "audible" and just said "I saw something I didn't like" and rolled out with a much safer pass play that also gave him a better option if his pass protection broke down!  Hey, Joe Namath won a Super Bowl by "calling" almost ALL of his plays at the line of scrimmage in Super Bowl 3!    

DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

I always thought early on it would take one or two years for the defense to catch up with the offense. The offense carried this team and the running backs complimented the passing game. But let's be clear it wasn't a championship defense. All plays are horrible if they don't work, but are offensive line broke down right in front of our eyes. Chester will be replaced with a younger offensive lineman next year.

UGA76
UGA76

@DarlaLewis Two of their first 4 picks should be Guards.  They also need to sign a veteran OT in free agency to be a backup.  The other two picks must be used for a DE and a DT.  We got beat in the trenches once again. 

EightBurros
EightBurros

First down---New England 22-yard line, 4 minutes, 40 seconds on the clock, 8 point lead. Basic strategy: run 3 plays, eat NE's timeouts, run the clock down, bring in your pro bowl kicker to kick an easy FG---go up 11, the game is over. 

96JB
96JB

@EightBurros .... So true...I'm still stunned. Ego. The offense was hell bent on scoring a TD. Very dumb on the coaching side. Quinn has a lot of football to coach. Hopefully he learned a lesson. Belichik Still pinching himself I'm sure at that dumb move.

moboman
moboman

@EightBurros Cant blame the D for this one.  Total offensive mismanagment of clock.

UGA76
UGA76

@EightBurros Reminds me of the movie "Tin Cup".  Come on, layup/run the ball and take the better chance at winning the US Open/Super Bowl. 

Mutley
Mutley

But the CURSE took over and what should have been sane sound decisions became insane.

EightBurros
EightBurros

@96JB @EightBurros Belicheck is also still pinching himself also for seattle throwing the ball on the NE 1 yard line, 2nd down, 20 seconds left, instead of running marshawn lynch 3 times---the single dumbest call in the history of sports. Bill got two gift super bowl rings from Pete Carroll and Kyle Shanahan!

Mutley
Mutley

Quinn doing everything he can for his rematch with the CURSE. The question is Atlanta finally ready to be a champion or just 1st loser again.

Big Wally
Big Wally

Rex Ryan is on line 1 for you Arthur.

Big Wally
Big Wally

This team was toast anyway.  Will be for a long, long, time.  This loss will be between their ears for the rest of their careers. 

jcarson
jcarson

Could not disagree more. I think there's a lot of high character guys on this team and I think they will be hungrier than ever. Shanahan single-handedly lost that game for us and he is gone.

Big Wally
Big Wally

@jcarson Every Super Bowl loser says they will be back the next year.  The last time it happened was 1992.  Losers don't comeback.

Roy DaSlab Welch
Roy DaSlab Welch

I think DQ Had a hand in the defense later in the season. I can personal say I watch every game this year. And a few games when DQ didn’t trust the defense so in return the offense gambled and lost. But who knows maybe it a knee jerk reaction. But come next September we will see the results!!!

Infinite Hope
Infinite Hope

If Q was calling plays for the last 8 weeks, why keep the DC?  The release of Cox may also spell doom for his pet man-child (Hageman).

EightBurros
EightBurros

Big changes are needed on D---the DBs looked confused the whole game, and the d-line got little or no pressure after getting that big lead.

dbsham
dbsham

Well, we all realize that the defense got better as the season progressed. Are you suggesting that was the result of Quinn? If so then I can understand the move. But if Smith also played a role in the success. Then he may be a scapegoat here.

Infinite Hope
Infinite Hope

@dbsham Of course it was the result of Quinn.  He's the head coach, defacto GM or the lead talent evaluator, and, apparently, the D coordinator.