ATLANTA (AP) — Two days before the end of another disappointing season, the Atlanta Falcons announced Friday they are keeping coach Dan Quinn in 2020.
Buoyed by a strong finish, owner Arthur Blank also decided to retain general manager Thomas Dimitroff, though there will be organizational changes that restore president and CEO Rich McKay to a more prominent role in the football operations.
Blank made the decision before the Falcons (6-9) travel to Tampa Bay to close the season.
“I understand our fans’ disappointment and frustration because I’ve felt every bit of it as well. That said, our focus must be on giving our franchise the best opportunity to win next year and beyond," Blank said in a statement.
Quinn and Dimitroff will now report to McKay, with Blank retaining oversight of football operations. McKay will work directly to the owner on all football-related matters.
In addition, the Falcons announced that former Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris will replace Quinn as defensive coordinator.
Quinn apparently saved his job with another encouraging finish. The Falcons are 5-2 over the second half of the season after a 1-7 start, taking a three-game winning streak into their game against the Buccaneers.
Last season, the Falcons won their last three games to finish 7-9.
Quinn has a record of 42-37 as he completes his fifth season as Atlanta's coach. During the 2016 season, he led the team to only the Super Bowl appearance in franchise history, where the Falcons infamously squandered a 28-3 lead in the second half before losing to the New England Patriots in overtime.
Atlanta made a second straight playoff appearance in 2017, reaching the divisional round of the NFC playoffs before losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.
But the team has slumped to losing marks the last two seasons, plagued by injuries and questionable personnel moves, leading to thousands of empty seats at $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“Over the last two seasons our results on the field have not met our standard or the expectations of our fans,” Blank said.
But the owner decided the best way to improve the team's performance was to largely stick with the leadership he had in place.
"I have long believed that continuity in leadership is very important across all our businesses and the football team is no different in that regard," Blank said. "After weighing several factors, including our team’s statistical turnaround and our players’ focus and effort the second half of the season, I feel the decision to retain Thomas and Dan, with Rich providing close day-to-day oversight of the football operation, will provide the timeliest route for the Atlanta Falcons to return to contention in 2020 and beyond."
McKay is a former general manager with both the Falcons and the Buccaneers, but he was bumped upstairs when Dimitroff was hired as GM in 2008. McKay largely concentrated on business operations, including the plan that led to the opening of the team's new retractable-roof stadium in 2017.
“Every year we evaluate all our football operations and this year I have asked Rich to work closely with Thomas and Dan over the next couple of weeks to conduct a top-to-bottom review, inclusive of structure, processes, resourcing and personnel to identify whatever changes are necessary to enable us to compete consistently at the highest level," Blank said. "In my time as owner, and particularly since 2008, we have been one of the winningest teams in the NFC, ranking fourth in wins and across the NFL, tied for seventh in wins, and that remains the only acceptable result for us now and in the future."
The promotion of Morris to defensive coordinator follows a restructuring of the coaching staff during a midseason bye week with the team mired in a six-game losing streak.
Quinn shifted Morris from receivers coach to a role overseeing the secondary, in addition to giving him some play-calling duties on defense.
Quinn had taken over as defensive coordinator coming into the season, hoping his hands-on presence would lead to major improvement. The move backfired, but the team has shown significant improvement on defense since Morris moved to that side of the line and Quinn ceded more of his direct role.
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