Atlanta’s defense, supposed to be Quinn’s area of expertise, allowed the previously struggling Jared Goff to throw for 268 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Rams became the third straight team to drop at least 30 points on the Falcons; two weeks ago, the Texans scored a whopping 53.
Atlanta’s offense, featuring the Pro Bowl likes of quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones, mustered just 224 total net yards as the team was dominated in time of possession, 37:09 to 22:51. It didn’t help that Ryan suffered an ankle injury in the fourth quarter that knocked him from the game, although backup Matt Schaub acquitted himself reasonably well with 65 yards and a touchdown on 6-of-6 passing.
And as for the special teams — oy. Atlanta allowed Los Angeles’s Johnny Hekker to complete a 23-yard pass on a fake punt, Falcons kicker Matt Bryant missed a field goal attempt when the game was still close and the Falcons lost a fumble that was returned by the Rams for a touchdown.
Frustration got the better of Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, who was ejected Sunday after throwing a third-quarter punch at much larger Rams defensive end Aaron Donald. Given that another Falcons running back, Ito Smith, had already left the game with an injury, the team was forced to rely on third-stringer Brian Hill and special-teamer Kenjon Barner.
Afterward, Blank was asked by the Athletic if he still supported Quinn.
“Of course,” he replied. “We’ve got games to play. I support the players. I support the coach. I feel all the pain that the fans feel, and also the players do and the coaches do, as well.”
On whether there was a chance Quinn gets fired Monday, the owner said, “No. But that doesn’t change the record. It is what it is. It’s just very disappointing for everybody.”
Going back to last season, which ended with a 7-9 record for the Falcons, they have lost 11 of their past 15 games, and their one win this year was a 24-20 home squeaker over the Eagles that looks less impressive now that Philadelphia has fallen to 3-4. Still to go this season are two matchups each with the division-rival Saints (6-1) and Panthers (4-2), plus games against the 49ers (6-0) and Seahawks (5-2).
Quinn, for his part, insisted Sunday that there would be no quit in his squad, saying, “I never think you’re out of the fight. You shouldn’t think that way as a team member, and I certainly don’t think that way as a coach. I recognize that when you don’t play well, those are fair questions, but I don’t think we’re ever out of the fight.”
Some observers, though, felt that the Falcons should throw in the towel on the Quinn era, which began in 2015 and crested in 2016 with an 11-5 season. Of course, that season ended with a blown lead of 28-3 in a crushing Super Bowl loss to the Patriots, and even with a 10-6 follow-up in 2017, it’s been all downhill for Atlanta since then.
“The Falcons’ season is gone. Dan Quinn needs to go,” declared a headline in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which told readers, “The NFL was ready to hand Blank the Lombardi Trophy, and now — two years, eight months and two weeks later — the high-profile owner has a pocketful of nothing.”
“We’ve known for a while that the Falcons were poorly coached — Quinn confirmed as much when he fired three coordinators on New Year’s Eve — but they now appear barely coached at all,” the newspaper added.
The Falcoholic, a popular team website, asserted, “It’s time for the Falcons to fire Dan Quinn, if not past time.” It said that Blank’s “decision to stick with Quinn had a lot to do with Super Bowl-driven loyalty and this team’s apparently strong talent base,” but “with both of those disappointing in the extreme, there’s nothing left to fall back on.”
Even the Athletic piece that relayed Blank’s statements of support for Quinn stated in the headline that the coach had “failed,” and that “his firing from [the] Falcons appears inevitable.”
It hasn’t happened yet, although Blank’s comment that his unwillingness to fire Quinn on Monday “doesn’t change the record” could be viewed as somewhat ominous. In the meantime, Falcons players were left scratching their heads at yet another confounding result.
“We definitely feel like we put a lot of time in each and every week and we definitely feel like we have the players to go out there and win,” defensive end Vic Beasley said, “but it just ain’t happening for us right now.”