It’s been a tough year for sports fans in Georgia.
Atlanta United fell one game short of returning to the MLS Cup in October.
The Atlanta Braves were booted from the first round of the playoffs for the second year in a row.
For the Atlanta Falcons, 2019 has been even worse. The team is 1-7 entering this Sunday’s game against the Saints in New Orleans.
GPB's All Things Considered host, Rickey Bevington talks Falcons football with Morning Edition producer and reporter Taylor Gantt.
With every loss, pressure is mounting on team owner Arthur Blank to make a change, starting with head coach Dan Quinn.
Morning Edition producer and reporter Taylor Gantt sits down with host Rickey Bevington to discuss the Falcon’s season and what the future holds for Quinn and the team.
HIGHLIGHTS: This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness
Rickey Bevington: Social media has been buzzing for weeks about the Falcons coaching situation. How did we get to this point and how much is Dan Quinn really to blame?
Taylor Gantt: It is really wild to think how prestigious this team was [in 2017]. Even though they lost in the Super Bowl to the Patriots, coming off of that year they were expected to be a perennial contender. But it's just gotten slightly worse every season. They fired both of Dan Quinn's coordinators last season.
Quinn had said that he would take over the defense. It's what he did before he came to the Falcons, with Seattle. But the defense has gotten even worse this year, giving up over 30 points per game. It's clear to see that whatever Dan Quinn is trying, it's not working out right now.
Bevington: Why didn't the team fire Quinn this past week after this last loss to the Seattle Seahawks? That was the Falcons sixth loss in a row.
Gantt: It really seemed like the cards were lining up to do so. You talked about the fan outrage on social media. It was at a fever pitch at that point. Arthur Blank held a press conference after that game, which you don't normally see from the owner of a team. He had given a few statements here and there in support of the coach. But this time around, it seemed like he was really setting things up for an imminent change.
But nothing happened. It's been two weeks since Arthur Blank had that press conference and they've made a few changes, move some coaches around, but no firings. As of now, Dan Quinn is still leading the team.
Bevington: Looking ahead, who could be in a position to lead the Falcons in the future?
Gantt: Well, there is a candidate that pretty much every team in the NFL who needs a coach is looking at: Lincoln Riley, who coaches for the University of Oklahoma. He's taught the last two Heisman winning quarterbacks, Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. It's going to be tough to pull him, considering how popular of a candidate that he is. He's also making seven figures in Oklahoma right now, so he doesn't really need much of a pay raise.