Falcons fire coach Quinn, GM Dimitroff after 0-5 start

Paul Newberry
Associated Press

Atlanta — Dan Quinn, who guided Atlanta to the Super Bowl for only the second time in franchise history but infamously squandered a 28-3 lead to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, was fired on Sunday night in his sixth season as the Falcons coach.

The Falcons have also fired general manager Thomas Dimitroff.

Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn gestures as he walks off the field after a game against the Carolina Panthers  Sunday in Atlanta.

The moves came hours after the Falcons started 0-5 for the first time since 1997, which included becoming the first team in NFL history to squander fourth-quarter leads of at least 15 points in back-to-back games.

Quinn became the second coach to be fired during the season in Arthur Blank’s 18 years as owner. He is the second NFL coach this season to lose his job after Houston’s Bill O’Brien was dismissed following an 0-4 start.

The decisive game for Quinn was a 23-16 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, leaving him with an overall record of 43-42 but just 14-23 since the beginning of the 2018 season. He was 3-2 in two postseason appearances.

Quinn was hired by the Falcons in 2015 after a highly successful run as Seattle’s defensive coordinator, highlighted by two straight trips to the Super Bowl.

In 2003, Reeves resigned during the season after being told by Blank he would not be retained.

The Falcons are expected to name an interim coach on Monday. Team president and CEO Rich McKay will take over control of football operations in the interim and assist Blank in the search for a new general manager and coach.

“Decisions like these are very difficult, but the previous two seasons and start to this one have been especially hard for me because of the deep love, admiration and respect I and my family have for Dan, Thomas and their families,” Blank said in a statement released by the team.

“For many years, they have represented me, our team, organization and Atlanta with class, commitment and all the passion you would want in the leaders of the team. But as everyone knows, this is a results business and I owe it to our fans to put the best product we can on the field. We have poured every resource possible into winning and will continue to do so, but the results of late do not meet our standard or what I’ve promised our fans. Therefore, we will install new coaching and personnel leadership of the Atlanta Falcons at the appropriate time.”

In what would become a troubling hallmark of Quinn’s career, the Falcons got off to a brilliant start in his debut season, but couldn’t maintain it. Atlanta won its first five games and six of its first seven, but an overtime loss to Tampa Bay sparked a six-game losing streak that eliminated the Falcons from playoff contention. They finished 8-8.

Atlanta bounced back from that disappointment with one of the greatest seasons in team history. Featuring a dynamic offense led by Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman, the Falcons built a locker room camaraderie that Quinn called “The Brotherhood” while winning the NFC South with an 11-5 record.

With blowout wins over Seattle and Green Bay in the NFC playoffs, the Falcons were riding a huge wave of confidence heading to their first Super Bowl since the 1998 season. That carried right into the game against Brady’s Patriots, who fell behind by 25 points late in the third quarter while fans back in Atlanta began prepping for a huge celebration.

Not so fast.

With one of the great performances in postseason history – and benefiting from questionable play-calling by the Falcons – Brady led a comeback that forced overtime for the first time in a Super Bowl. Naturally, the Patriots won the coin toss and marched right down the field for the championship-clinching touchdown in a 34-28 victory.

“I’ll probably never forget this,” Falcons safety Ricardo Allen said afterward. “It will always be haunting.”

Indeed it was, for Quinn and the entire organization.