The Atlanta Falcons’ decision to fire head coach Dan Quinn was not necessarily that big of a surprise. The Falcons had struggled to field a competitive team under Quinn since earning a trip to the Super Bowl back in 2016. That included a disastrous 0-5 start to the 2020 NFL season.
However, this move will create some wide-ranging ramifications throughout the NFL world once the 2020 season comes to a conclusion. The Falcons will be a prime spot for coaching candidates, especially with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones still doing their thing in Atlanta.
As for the Falcons, it’s about time for them to give Ryan that offensive-minded head coach after he spent his first 12-plus seasons working under defensive-minded head coaches. It’s in this that we look at the top candidates to replace Quinn as the Falcons’ head coach.
Lincoln Riley, head coach, Oklahoma Sooners
It had been noted in the past that Riley would only leave Norman to become the Dallas Cowboys’ head coach. We’re not sure how much truth there is to that rumor. What we do know is that the 37-year-old Riley is known as a savant when it comes to quarterbacks. Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts in three consecutive seasons. Two Heisman winners and a finalist.
It might finally be time for the Falcons to hire an offensive-minded head coach after Dan Quinn’s tenure. That’s certainly something to think about here. If the Falcons are dead set on competing over the short term and retaining Ryan throughout the remainder of his career, they need to cater to the Super Bowl quarterback. It’s that simple.
Byron Leftwich, offensive coordinator, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Back in 2016, the Arizona Cardinals hired Leftwich as a coaching intern to help quarterbacks. The former first-round pick was quickly promoted to offensive coordinator under Bruce Arians before being fired after Steve Wilks’ brutal one-year tenure in the desert. Now in his second season with the Buccaneers, Leftwich is seen as an innovative young offensive mind.
It would in no way be a surprise if the Falcons kicked the tires on Leftwich. They have first-hand knowledge of his offense in the NFC South. He’s currently working with Tom Brady. While it would take the youngster hiring sound defensive coaches, this just makes too much sense.
Eric Bieniemy, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator
It has long been anticipated that this former NFL running back could be next in line for a head-coaching gig. For good reason. Bieniemy, 51, has overseen the brilliant play of Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City under head coach Andy Reid. Here’s a unit that ranked in the top-six in total offense in each of Bieniemy’s first two seasons calling plays. It doesn’t take a genius to realize what we’re talking about one of the most-respected young offensive minds in the game.
What better way to help Ryan out than to hire an offensive mind that has helped turn Mahomes into one of the greatest quarterbacks of the modern era? The idea of Bieniemy working with Ryan, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley might be too hard to pass up on.
Josh McDaniels, offensive coordinator New England Patriots
As noted above, it might be time to give Matt Ryan that offensive-minded head coach. Obviously, somehow retaining Kyle Shanahan following the Falcons’ Super Bowl appearance back in 2016 would have done that. Unfortunately, Atlanta must now look outside of the organization. That’s where McDaniels comes into play.
Dating back to 2006 as the Patriots’ offensive coordinator, McDaniels has led 11 top-10 scoring offenses in 15 seasons. Despite some issues with his personality, that’s hard for other teams to ignore. It’s also important to note that McDaniels’ relationship with another veteran quarterback in that of Tom Brady will be part of this decision-making process.