It may not be long until the NFL sees its first coaching vacancy of the 2020 season. Of the eight teams that remain winless after three weeks, Dan Quinn of the Atlanta Falcons is standing out as the coach most likely to be fired at the moment. The Falcons have been on the wrong end of two epic collapses the last two weeks, which appears to have Quinn on the hot seat.
Of course, Quinn is no stranger to the hot seat. A year ago, he was unbelievably close to getting his walking papers when the Falcons entered their bye week at 1-7. However, owner Arthur Blank decided to stick with him. Quinn rewarded that confidence by going 6-2 during the second half of the season. However, as Quinn and the Falcons dig themselves another deep hole, the head coach may not get the chance to crawl his way out for a second straight year.
In close to two decades as team owner, Blank has never fired a coach mid-season. But he was close to doing it last year and may not be so forgiving this time around. While a 6-2 record during the second half of the 2019 season was impressive, it didn’t get Atlanta to the playoffs. With a slow start this season, the Falcons are in danger of missing the playoffs for a third straight season. Keep in mind that both Jim Mora and Mike Smith were fired after missing the playoffs in back-to-back years. Blank didn’t give them a chance to miss it for a third consecutive season.
It’s not just that the Falcons are losing, but it’s also how they’re losing. Atlanta is averaging 30 points per game with Matt Ryan putting together a great season. But the Falcons have also given up the most points in the NFL through three weeks, failing to hold fourth-quarter leads of 15 points and 16 points over the last two weeks.
Failing to hold double-digit leads in the fourth quarter is unacceptable for any NFL team. The fact that it happened two weeks in a row could point to something systemic that Quinn may not be able to fix. If Quinn can’t prove that he can fix the defense and start winning games soon, he could be out of a job sooner rather than later. Blank has been patient, but it’s not hard to see why that patience might be running out.