Someone stop Dan Quinn before he coaches again

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons coach Dan Quinn discusses the 30-26 loss to the Bears on Sunday. They blew a 16-point fourth-quarter.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

I’m sorry, but this can’t go on. It should have happened last year, but a benevolent owner got fooled by a late surge. He granted his coach a last chance. This is what his coach has done with it:

Lost the opener at home by 13 points. Blown a 20-point lead on the road. And now, blown a 16-point lead at home.

A week after the Cowboys led only as the clock hit 0:00, the Bears didn’t nose ahead until one play beyond the two-minute warning. Anthony Miller ran past reserve cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson to snag a touchdown pass that surely Windy City fans could scarcely believe. But whenever you’re playing the Falcons, there’s always reason to believe. There’s always the DQ Factor.

Only a horribly coached team could have let that onside kicked go unfielded. Only a horribly coached team could have allowed this get-well game — final score: Bears 30, Falcons 26 — turn belly-up. The Falcons are 0-3 headed for a Monday nighter at Lambeau Field. It would take a great coach to make something of this season now. Dan Quinn has spent nearly every working moment since it was 28-3 proving he’s not even a good one.

It brings no pleasure to write these words. Quinn is a fine fellow. You’d be comfortable with him watching your kids. (Or grandkids. I’m of that age.) But how many times can the same team lose the same game and expect to get a different result with the same coach? Apologies in advance, for I’m about to use a word I absolutely hate, but here it is:

The Falcons of Quinn are the biggest choke team in the history of sports.

As Goldfinger said to 007 — in the book, not the movie — “Mr. Bond, they have a saying in Chicago. Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time is enemy action.” The Falcons’ biggest enemy has ceased being the opponent. The Falcons’ biggest enemy is having this head coach on a headset with a double-digit lead to hold.

Speaking of Chicago (funny how life imitates art): The Bears had every reason to give up on Sunday’s game. Their starting quarterback had reminded us why not many folks consider Mitchell Trubisky a starting quarterback. Their backup — the ol’ Falcons-killer Nick Foles — saw two of his passes ruled touchdowns, only to be overturned and rendered takeaways by replay review. After three possessions under Foles, his team still trailed by 16 points, and now 9:10 remained.

The Bears’ next four possessions: Touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, victory formation.

Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller gets past Falcons cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson for what proved to be the winning touchdown during the fourth quarter Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Chicago won 30-26. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

The Falcons’ first three fourth-quarter possessions: Three-and-out, three-and-out, three-and-out. Six of those nine plays were passes. (Passes, we remind you, not directed toward Julio Jones, who missed the game with an iffy hamstring. Or to Russell Gage, who’d been injured midway.) Total time of those three possessions — this is beyond belief — was 2 minutes, 58 seconds.

Do we need to note that the Falcons, as coached by Quinn and quarterbacked by Matt Ryan, will live forever with the memory of NOT running the ball late in the Super Bowl? Yes, Kyle Shanahan is long gone, but the Falcons’ latest offensive coordinator — Dirk Koetter, in his second stint here — should be sued for malpractice.

This was the series after the Bears had pulled within a field goal — incomplete pass, incomplete pass, false start, incomplete pass. Chicago was forced to use no timeouts. Twenty-two seconds after it scored a touchdown, it had the ball kick. It didn’t even need to wait for the Falcons to botch an onside kick. Whatever it takes to lose, the resourceful men of Quinn will find.

DQ’s latest pearls of woeful wisdom: “That’s about as tough as it can get … The last two weeks have been nothing short of crushing … We need to find our ways to finish.”

Said Ryan of his coach: “We’ve got his back. We’ve got to play better as players.”

Then, of the Falcons: “We’re right there. It hasn’t been (us) getting killed.”

And that’s the point. It’s not as if the Falcons can’t do better. It’s that they NEVER DO. They watch a ball roll 10 yards and do their utmost to move out of its way. They forget they have Todd Gurley on the roster and keep chucking the ball when they should be pounding it. They’ve become a worldwide punchline of how not to win, no matter how fat their lead and how inevitable winning might appear. Over two given Sundays, they’ve squandered 36 points' worth of leads.

Ryan: “The entire story hasn’t been told yet. It’s a long haul. But we’ve got to change.”

Really, though, how much more does anyone — Arthur M. Blank included — need to see? Two weeks running, we’ve said to ourselves, “Surely even the Falcons can’t mess this up.” Two weeks running, we’ve been wrong.

When it happens the same way this many times, we look for a common thread. Super Bowl? Quinn was coaching. Dallas game? Quinn again. Chicago game? Still Quinn. To borrow from both Ian Fleming’s arch-villain and Walt Kelly’s Pogo, the Falcons have met the enemy, and he’s their coach.

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