The Falcons look to move forward after firing of head coach Dan Quinn

The Falcons run onto the field from the locker room in a matchup against the Bears on Sept. 27. The Falcons lost this game 30-26 despite having 26-7 lead going into the fourth quarter. Dan Quinn's inability to hold onto early leads was an ongoing theme thoughout his career with the Falcons, and without question played a part in his firing.

Atlantafalcons.com

The Falcons run onto the field from the locker room in a matchup against the Bears on Sept. 27. The Falcons lost this game 30-26 despite having 26-7 lead going into the fourth quarter. Dan Quinn’s inability to hold onto early leads was an ongoing theme thoughout his career with the Falcons, and without question played a part in his firing.

Keller Rentz-Baker, Online Section Editor

The game clock hit 00:00 in Mercedes Benz Stadium on Oct. 11 in a 23-16 loss against the Carolina Panthers, and Falcons fans felt a dejection that was becoming the new normal. 

After consecutive losing seasons in 2018 and 2019, and a 0-5 start to this 2020 season, it was becoming clear that it was time for a change.

The news broke only mere hours after the end of the game that owner Arthur Blank had made the decision to move on from both sixth-year head coach Dan Quinn and twelfth-year General Manager Thomas Dimitroff. This was a choice that, for many Falcons fans, was a long time coming.

While this decision produced a sense of joy for most fans of the Dirty Birds, there were still several questions left unanswered. 

Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris was given the difficult position of interim head coach. Morris is inheriting a defense that has been consistently infuriating and an aging offensive side that has struggled to score recently. Morris, who was a head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009-2011 was able to get a statement win against the Vikings to bring the Falcons to 1-5, and if his success continues, he could be a strong candidate for the head coaching job.

A pressing issue for the Falcons is roster construction, especially on the offensive side of the ball. While Matt Ryan and Julio Jones contributions to the city of Atlanta have been incalculable, at ages 35 and 31, the windows of their primes are closing quickly. If the franchise looked to rebuild from the ground up, Ryan and Jones would likely not be a part of these plans.

There are still some bright spots for the future, however, especially in wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who has the potential to be one of the premier wideouts in the NFL in the coming years. 

With extreme youth and lack of experience on the defensive side of the ball, the rest of this season could serve as an opportunity for the development and growth of the team so that it can be well prepared for future seasons.

If Morris’s success does not continue on past his first-game win, finding the right man for the job is vital for the franchise to become a successful organization for years to come. One of the most attractive candidates for the position is Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, who could provide a much-needed spark to a lackluster offense and also find the proper staff to ensure defensive success.

Regardless, owner Arthur Blank and president Rich McKay made it very clear in a recent press conference that whoever is hired will essentially have free reign over any and all major personnel decisions, including the decision of whether or not to move on from beloved, but aging quarterback Matt Ryan.

Under this new leadership, the Falcons will likely look to the draft to replenish the roster holes, and if they finish the season with a losing record, as they are expected to do, they will be in prime position to secure valuable young assets when the 2021 draft arrives.

Who the Falcons pick, however, depends heavily on how the season and off season unfolds. If Ryan is traded, they are likely to look to secure their quarterback of the future. If the Falcons receive the first pick, fans would be hopeful they secure a generational talent in current Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who has drawn comparisons to the likes of Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. It is also worth noting that Lawrence is a hometown kid, playing football at Cartersville High School.

If the Falcons continue with aging central players like running back Todd Gurley, defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., center Alex Mack, along with Ryan at the helm, they would likely look to strengthen their defense. A possible candidate would be Miami defensive lineman Greg Rousseau, who could add the much-needed ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks.

As of now, however, this is all speculation. What is certain is this offseason is one of the most important in the history of the franchise, and the decisions made will affect the organization and its fanbase for years to come.

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