Though the Atlanta Falcons offense scored 10 points in their playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Steve Sarkisian will be back as offensive coordinator.
The 2016 Atlanta Falcons had a historically dominating offense led by MVP quarterback Matt Ryan and offensive coordinator superstar Kyle Shanahan. Atlanta would win the NFC and then proceed to lose Super Bowl LI to the New England Patriots in overtime after leading 28-3 in the third quarter.
Shanahan would leave Atlanta and take the San Francisco 49ers head coaching gig. Ryan and the offense would regress in 2017 under new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. While he was under fire all year, Falcons head coach Dan Quinn has Sarkisian’s back, as he will be back coordinating the Atlanta offense in 2018.
This news cannot be sitting well with Falcons fans. Atlanta mustered just 10 points in their season-ending playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday night. The Falcons had an opportunity to win the game on a first and goal from the Philadelphia nine-yard line inside of a minute remaining. Let’s just say that was not Sarkisian’s finest moment as a coach.
We all knew that replacing Shanahan was going to be close to impossible. Sarkisian and Quinn both stem from the Pete Carroll coaching tree, though they had never worked together previously. Quinn was Carroll’s defensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks. Sarkisian was on Carroll’s staff with the USC Trojans over a decade ago.
While the Falcons offense regressed, Atlanta was still the only team in the NFC to make the playoffs in both 2016 and 2017. Atlanta won a playoff game on the road against the favored Los Angeles Rams. Coming up a score short against the No. 1 seeded Eagles on the road was possible, though falling to a career backup quarterback in Nick Foles was especially painful for the Dirty Birth faithful.
Overall, it seems that this is Quinn’s call, as he wants continuity on his staff. Promoting defensive backs coach Marquand Manuel from within to defensive coordinator looks to have been a brilliant hire. We all have to keep in mind that even Shanahan’s first year in Atlanta was rough. It was the worst season in Ryan’s career, as Atlanta went 8-8 and missed the NFC playoffs for the third year in a row.
Sarkisian may not ever be anything close to as good of an offensive coordinator in the NFL as Shanahan, but running through coordinators is not good for Ryan’s chances to contend for Super Bowls. Do keep in mind that Sarkisian was running mostly Shanahan concepts in 2017. Either he takes a leap forward calling plays in 2018, or Atlanta will be looking for Ryan’s fifth offensive coordinator in his decade plus career.