Time for Make or Break
The Pads are on, and the pigskin is in the air training camp has begun America can come back to life our favorite pass time is back the weekend blues will be cured soon. Hold off on the tailgate it’s just the start of training camp that time of the season when all 32 teams have hopes and dreams of kissing Vince Lombardi regardless of how unrealistic it may be. Fortunately for Falcon fans, they are not on the bleak side of the fence the grass is greener in Flower Branch.
The Falcons have perhaps the most talented roster in football. The core group that participated in Superbowl Ll a couple of years ago is returning to health. As we recall their names were being engraved on the trophy at halftime with a 21-3 lead. In the third quarter, they extended to a 25 point advantage all of Atlanta was planning the parade on Peachtree. Then like Humpty Dumpty, it all fell down.
I recall the epic swing in emotions from my favorite watering hole one of total jubilation to cursing and fussing “same damn Falcons” was the one that stood out. They blamed the defensive-minded head coach Dan Quinn for not running out the clock. Perhaps that exposed a flaw he wasn’t involved in the offense instead Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shannahan had total autonomy. Regardless why didn’t he step in and take charge?
The following season they nearly made it back to the NFC Championship missing by a highly thrown pass. The first-year offensive coordination Steve Sarkisian received the brunt of that frustration from the fans.
Last season was just brutal, but the head coach is awarded a get out of jail pass the team was ravaged with an injury. This season they are back. And with a healthy running back Devanta Freeman so are the Super Bowl expectations.
It’s the third day of a make or break season for head coach Dan Quinn.
The front office has made some aggressive moves firing Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel. Undisputed facts are the defense fell from its 10th rank in 2017 to 24th in 2018. Should he be afforded the same pass as Quinn? After all, most of the injuries were on defense. Granted Sarkisian inherited the most prolific offense in the NFL the poor guy was doomed for failure. I don’t know if he was allowed to implement his offense or forced to learn and call the plays of the previous coordinator invoking the golden rule, if it’s not broken don’t think of touching it.
Fans thought all he had to do was call plays, but in the NFL it’s much more strategic those are professionals on the other team, and he had no experience calling plays in the NFL at the time of hire. The plug was pulled after two seasons, which means the wrong guy was hired for the job. Some may call it a knee jerk reaction. On the other hand, if you see it’s not there why not move on sooner rather than later. Either way, there is a change in philosophy.
Dan Quinn will serve as head coach and Defensive Coordinator perhaps symbolic of his seat heating up.
Former Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter returns as the offensive coordinator. With his experience nine years as an offensive coordinator, three in Atlanta, and three years as head coach. That resume, as well as his history with Matt Ryan, made for the perfect reunion and Sarkisian expendable. If the move was to allow Quinn, one of the best Defensive Coordinators in the league when he was with Seattle, to return to his strength, I could buy it. The critical question: does this set the offense back? If It does maybe we will hear the chant, “we want Sark.” This would have been season three perhaps his break out year. A new but familiar Offensive Coordinator, a revamped offensive line with two #1 draft picks Kaleb McGary and Chris Lindstrom.
Dan Quinn on Kaleb McGary and Chris Lindstrom’s performances
“I thought, I hoped it would look like it did where it felt normal, like in all the other functions that they’ve done. I thought Chris [Lindstrom] all along has been really improving. I had told him there would be some on the dot training, and maybe some of the guys who have been through camp as rookie starters can share that. What I do know about those two is their attitude to go after it. Kaleb [McGary] and Chris, and I’d probably say on the defensive line side, [John] Cominsky, the three of them have like a grinder work ethic. ‘I’m going to go again, go again.’ They stay after, you see them doing more. That’s kind of what you like from the guys who are the big guys inside. They know it takes work, especially for when the padded part starts. But you’re on the mark. This is where it counts the most for them because their practices are, their skillset matters the most right now.”
Free Agent veteran linemen Guard Jamon Brown and James Carpenter were brought in as insurance. Brown has 4 seasons under his belt and has seen action in 50 regular-season games. Carpenter is a nine-year offensive lineman with 103 regular-season games with 97 starts appearing at left guard, right guard, and right tackle and is a former Super Bowl XLVIII champion.
Dan Quinn on James Carpenter and Jamon Brown
“I would say in the one on ones, when we got done, as pass rushers, one thing we found out that we know are [Jamon] Brown and [James] Carpenter are pretty big. They kind of laugh, ‘Yeah, you’re right.’ I think when you see guys with those sizes who can really clamp and lock, you feel their power because when you don’t have the pads it’s not the same level of intensity. I think there was some ‘finding out,’ I would say.”
It all looks good on paper but that’s a new offense with unproven rookies. No matter the talent in the ultimate team sport, you must have chemistry, and it takes time to develop. Speaking of time, how much is on Quinn’s side? Most believe he is on the hot seat anything short of the Super Bowl with a healthy team the Brotherhood is over.