Dan Quinn took over the defensive play-calling this season in hopes of turning around a D that was softer than dryer lint.
It has not gone well.
The Atlanta Falcons' defense once again remains among the worst units in the league, unable to slow, let alone stop, opponents from scoring. Despite firing his DC in the offseason and taking over play-calling, Atlanta ranks tied for last in the NFL in sacks, 31st in points allowed, 30th in third-down percentage given up, and 23rd in total yards allowed through their 1-4 start to the season.
There are times, like Sunday's blowout loss to Houston, in which Matt Ryan and the offense put up points to keep a game close, only to watch the defense let the opponent go right down and score again. It must be a frustrating predicament for the offense.
Even with the defensive struggles, Quinn has no plans to hand over play-calling.
"My job is to fix it," Quinn said this week, via ESPN's Vaughn McClure. "Moments like this are a reminder of why we coach and play, because we love it so much. But my ego would never be as big as the team. I always do what's best for the team. ... If I felt [giving up the play-calling] was best, trust me, I would have certainly done that. I know what we can do, we can do better. So that's kind of where my mind is.
"I recognize the question, for sure, when you're not achieving the results you have. But trust me on that one: My ego is never as big as the team. I will always do what's best for that. But at this time, I don't think that's where I'm at."
It's no surprise the coach wouldn't cede play-calling. If Quinn is going down with the ship, he's going down on his terms.
Once again, injuries have damaged some of the coach's plans entering the season, but the lack of depth, a nonexistent pass rush, and a defensive middle that gets gashed so bad it needs about 10,000 stitches, would stick out even if everyone were healthy. Too often Quinn's players are either out of position to make a play or get treated like a rag-doll, tossed aside for an easy big gain.
These are the same problems that have plagued Quinn's entire tenure in Atlanta. Since Quinn became head coach in 2015, the Falcons rank last in the NFL in third-down percentage allowed (43.9), last in opponent's red zone percentage (64.5), 29th in sacks (134) and 28th in takeaways (84). The Falcons' failures, including their 1-4 start to this season, can mostly be blamed on Quinn's D: Of the six teams who have averaged 25.0 or more points per game since 2015, Atlanta's .536 win percentage is the lowest, per NFL Research. The other five: Patriots (.797), Chiefs (.710), Steelers (.645), Saints (.609), and Panthers (.609).
No, it's not a surprise that Quinn won't give up play-calling. If his team doesn't turn it around in a hurry, however, he'll likely be giving up much more than that come January.