The Atlanta Falcons have finally hired their new head coach: Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. This had been determined weeks ago, but the defensive coach still had a Super Bowl to lose so they couldn't announce him prior to this week. Along with that announcement also announced the hiring of Richard Smith as defensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator, and Raheem Morris as assistant head coach/defensive passing game coordinator AKA the longest coaching title in the history of the NFL.
Dan Quinn has been the Seagawks' defensive coordinator since 2013, taking over for now-Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley. Quinn has obviously been highly successful in that role, and had been very successful as a defensive line coach for years before that as well.
Amusingly, Mark Dominik yesterday said he tried to hire Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator twice when he was the Bucs' general manager.
But the other hires don't really sound as an upgrade for the Falcons. Kyle Shanahan has at best had an up-and-down career as offensive coordinator, producing two middling offenses with the Texans and Matt Schaub, one solid year of offense with Washington in RG3's one healthy season and...well, that's it basically. Of course, he'll have Matt Ryan and Julio Jones to help him out, so he won't have to be a genius to get some good production.
Raheem Morris is more interesting. He's technically not the defensive coordinator but the "assistant head coach/defensive passing game coordinator" and Dan QUinn will be bringing his defense with him, but Morris will have a big role -- and while I like Morris overall, he hasn't exactly been successful as a defensive coordinator. His three defenses with the Bucs were awful, middling and awful respectively, while his past three years of Washington secondaries have bee pretty much awful. That's not all his fault: he's never had good players to coach -- but then he doesn't exactly have a talented defense now, either.
Richard Smith is more of an enigma -- he's a linebackers coach with two mediocre stints as defensive coordinator with the Miami Dolphins in 2005 and the Houston Texans from 2006-08. With Raheem Morris as the passing game defensive coordinator, it's not exactly clear what Smith is going to take charge of. But all of this is Quinn's defense anyway.
Honestly, this feels like the Falcons have actually taken a small step back. Dirk Koetter and Mike Nolan were experienced and successful coordinators with outstanding reputations. Mike Smith was bland as a head coach, but he wasn't bad, either. Quinn brings some new energy and perhaps a defensive injection with the Seahawks' scheme -- but the Falcons have none of the pieces they need to run his kind of defense.
But then, it's not like the Bucs are set up for immediate success. And at least the Falcons have Matt Ryan.