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Ashway: Past time for Collapse King Dan Quinn to go
Denton Ashway
DENTON ASHWAY

Dan Quinn: The Collapse King of Coaches.

If you’re going to be good at something, why not strive to be the best? How about the best ever?

Quinn has managed to turn his Falcons into the laughingstock of the National Football League. That’s no small feat in a lodge that counts the New York Jets among its denizens.

But the Jets, pitiful as they’ve mostly been throughout their existence, do have a Super Bowl victory on their resume. And not just any Super Bowl win. Probably the greatest Super Bowl victory of all time.

Quinn led the Falcons to the greatest Super Bowl loss of all time.

Quinn’s men now stand at 0-3 on the season, a start the Falcons haven’t equaled since their coach was the despicable Bobby Petrino. Nothing good ever comes from being compared to Petrino.

Quinn arrived in Atlanta after a successful stint as the defensive coordinator in Seattle. Quinn’s current defense ranks as the worst in the NFL in virtually every meaningful statistical category.

That all should be enough for even the most ardent Falcon fan to declare, “The Falcons are dead to me.”

But there’s more. So much more.

We haven’t even touched upon the record-setting collapses of the past two weeks. No NFL team had ever lost back-to-back games after leading by at least 15 points in the fourth quarter.

No. Team. Ever.

Leave it to the Falcons. At least they’re the best of all-time at something.

You must also give them credit for this: After collapsing against the Cowboys last week in epic fashion, who among you thought the Falcons would be able to sink to a greater depth just a week later?

Last week’s flummoxed finish did afford the added excitement of a muffed onside kick recovery. Only five Falcons — almost half of the receiving team — crouched and eyed the ball as it rolled the required 10 yards.

It took the team almost an entire week to finally formulate a party line: the players thought the ball wouldn’t go the required 10 yards, so there would be no need to touch it at all.

Please. The ball was rolling across the turf like a turtle crossing a road. Quinn himself could have fallen on the ball without incident.

On Sunday, the Falcons spent the entire fourth quarter making collapsing look commonplace. Be honest: You knew, absolutely knew, how it was going to end, didn’t you? But you had to keep watching. Who can turn away from the finest that Theater of the Absurd has to offer?

The festivities began with the Falcons, leading 26-10, calling a timeout just prior to Matt Ryan getting sacked. Sound use of the time out there. Younghoe Koo then missed a 48-yard field goal attempt.

Uh oh.

The Bears, behind their backup quarterback, Nick Foles, promptly rolled down the field for a touchdown. However, upon further review, the catch was disallowed. Foles then threw incomplete on fourth down.

Whew.

The Falcons, trying to do the right thing, ran twice, but only for five yards. Ryan then threw incomplete. They had run 1:36 off the clock.

Uh oh.

It took Foles nine plays and 2:50 to lead the Bears 62 yards for a touchdown. Incredibly, they missed the two-point conversion. Still a two-score game, 26-16, with 6:20 left.

Whew.

Todd Gurley ran for a yard, Ryan threw incomplete deep (what the?) and incomplete again. The Falcons had run all of 1 minute off the clock. That was 1 second longer than it took Foles to get the Bears into the end zone again. Allen Robinson caught a short pass, broke two feeble tackle attempts, and strolled down the sideline into the endzone. The 37-yard play made it 26-23 with 4:21 to go.

Yikes.

Here’s where Falcon logic took a final holiday. Disdaining running Gurley, a pretty fair back, the Falcons threw the ball. Three times. All incomplete. Calvin Ridley added a false start. Your totals: three plays, minus five yards, 22 seconds burned off the clock.

Are you kidding me? What in the name of Kyle Shanahan is going on here?

It only took the Bears five more plays, aided by a late hit by Keith Smith on the Falcons’ punt. The score came on a 28-yard pass to Anthony Miller, who had beaten Falcons corner Blidi Wreh-Wilson like a dusty rug.

The Falcons had one final possession. It ended when Ryan threw poorly on a long out to Ridley that was intercepted by Tashaun Gipson.

Going through that recap, you still must shake your head. It was, at once, both incredible and inevitable. Watching it unfold, you could see the panic mount, the frustration set in, and, finally, the resignation on the faces of Quinn’s men.

What unfolded over the past two weeks might be considered tragic, except that tragedy cannot be grounded on stupidity.

This team is rudderless, confused. It has lost its way, and it won’t find its way until the Collapse King has been shown the way out the door.