How the Falcons vetted coordinator Steve Sarkisian


The Atlanta Falcons decided to replace one of the best offensive coordinators in franchise history with a bit of a wild card this offseason.

Surprising the football world, they tapped former USC and University of Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian, who, before resurfacing at the University of Alabama as an offensive analyst and coordinator in 2016, took personal time away from the game to fight his battle with alcoholism.

With the Falcons already in a vulnerable place following the most heartbreaking loss in Super Bowl history, the decision was not a light one. General manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn explained the vetting process on Good Morning Football on Wednesday.

"For us, knowing that for him to be the best version of himself he had to go through a process to get treatment and to get better, and he did that," Quinn said. "With all the resources Thomas has around the league and in college, we did our background research and we were very comfortable upon our meeting with Sark to put those issues out.

"We're much more the kind of guys who say 'Let's talk about it,' as opposed to dancing around the issues."

Added Dimitroff: "Sark's talked to Dan, he's talked to the coaches. He's talked to the players. He's one of those guys who, he knows what he has to work on and that's what our organization is all about. If we have players who have issues, we want to get them out on the table. We don't want to sweep anything under the rug. I'm sure that's the same way with a lot of organzations, but it's something we feel very strongly about. That's one of the parts of our relationship that is great. If we have something we need to deal with now, it's head on and that's the best way to do it. Otherwise there's always stuff stirring around -- lingering."

Like all of these decisions, it comes down to practicality. The Falcons were eyeing Sarkisian and were also associated with Chip Kelly, which meant Quinn had an eye on a particular type of coach who would retain some of the wide zone and play action concepts of Shanahan's system.

Quinn confirmed as much Wednesday, noting that Sarkisian was the best fit for what the Falcons were trying to do.

Should this work out, this will be another nod toward the culture Quinn and Dimitroff are building in Atlanta. New England and Seattle are often credited with having the best atmospheres in football, but watching the Falcons try and "embrace the suck" this offseason and remain steadfast despite their incredible Super Bowl loss has been impressive. They are confident Sarkisian will not be part of a problem, but simply proof that there is a solution.