Falcons players supported Dan Quinn till the end

Dan Quinn’s tenure with the Falcons organization ended late Sunday.

Atlanta’s coach and general manager, Thomas Dimitroff, were dismissed hours after the 23-16 loss to the Carolina Panthers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Before the decision was rendered, each of the players made available in post-game interviews stood up for their coach, whose last win came in the 2019 season finale against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Running back Todd Gurley, who joined the team as a free agent this offseason, began his news conference with a deep sigh of frustration. Toward the end, he was asked yet again about the coach he’s come to admire, despite this early-season losing streak.

Gurley said working with Quinn has been a great experience, even if they’ve only been around each other in person since late July. But over the past few weeks, the questions about Quinn’s job security have kept coming. With each loss, Quinn’s seat has burned hotter, especially considering that his past two seasons finished 7-9 and without an appearance in the playoffs.

Still, Gurley hasn’t lost faith in Quinn, even if those outside of the organization have.

“Yeah, stop talking about my coach, man,” Gurley said. “I’m sick of it. But obviously, I’ve got his back. When I was a free agent (this past offseason), he was one of the only guys personally to give me a call and reach out to me. When everybody thought I lost it he believed in me. I can’t do anything but rock with a guy like that. He’s been solid to me these last couple of months.”

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons RB Todd Gurley - who had his most productive game of the season - was down after the loss to the Panthers.

Quarterback Matt Ryan has only played for two coaches in his career — Quinn (2015-present) and Mike Smith (2008-14). Since Quinn took the job in 2015, Ryan won a league MVP in 2016 and appeared in his only Super Bowl that same season.

Asked if Dan Quinn would lose his job due to the poor start, Ryan voiced his support.

“I hope not,” Ryan said. “I think Dan’s been nothing but a great head coach since he’s been here. We just haven’t done a good enough job as a team and as players. It’s a hard business, that’s for sure. We all love and respect what Dan does for this football team. We’ve got to find a way as players to be better.”

Quinn, along with Dimitroff, drafted linebacker Deion Jones in 2016. Under Quinn, Jones reached the Pro Bowl following the 2017 season. Quinn also named Jones a captain prior to the start of the 2020 season.

Jones said his support hasn’t wavered on Quinn, despite how this year’s start has gone amid the backdrop of the past two seasons.

“It’s easy. I got him all day, every day,” Jones said. “He comes and fights for us every day, so we come to fight for him every day.”

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons linebacker Deion Jones addresses the play of the defense in the loss to the Panthers.

Each of the players who defended Quinn said that much of the blame falls on them due to their lack of execution. Rookie cornerback A.J. Terrell said that the players should absorb the majority of the blame for not being able to produce what Quinn and his staff have asked them to do.

“You’ve got to go into the game trusting the coaches, trusting the scheme,” Terrell said. “It’s just execution, going out there and making the plays. We’re not pointing any fingers at anybody. The coaches put together the game-plan and the players got to play.”

Said center Alex Mack: “I think everyone has coach Quinn’s back. He takes care of us. Each week we show up with the right mindset and ready to play hard. We just need to play better. I think the effort is there. Everyone is working hard. We just need to perform in those small little moments, just a little bit better.”

Although Quinn had many players coming to his defense, the NFL is a results oriented business.

Last year, Falcons owner Arthur Blank was partially swayed by an impassioned Julio Jones, who spoke about the need to win games for Quinn. At 0-5, which put Quinn at 14-23 since the start of 2018, it mattered little who stuck up for the embattled coach.

“He’s been a great guy,” Gurley said. “Nobody cares about that. Everybody wants to win from the outside. But we just aren’t getting it done.”