Quinn, GM fired with Fal­cons 0-5

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - NFL BLITZ - BY PAUL NEW­BERRY

AT­LANTA — The Carolina Pan­thers have man­aged just fine with­out ver­sa­tile of­fen­sive star Chris­tian McCaf­frey.

The At­lanta Fal­cons are about to see how things go with­out Dan Quinn as their head coach and Thomas Dim­itroff as their gen­eral man­ager.

Teddy Bridge­wa­ter threw for 313 yards and two touch­downs, and Jus­ton Bur­ris made a huge in­ter­cep­tion in the end zone as Carolina held on Sun­day af­ter­noon for a 23-16 vic­tory over the win­less Fal­cons. It turned out to be the fi­nal blow to Quinn’s ten­ure in its sixth year.

The Fal­cons dropped to 0-5 for the first time since 1997, turn­ing up the heat even more on their em­bat­tled coach. Then late Sun­day night, the Fal­cons an­nounced their coach and GM were out.

“De­ci­sions like these are very dif­fi­cult, but the pre­vi­ous two sea­sons and start to this one have been es­pe­cially hard for me be­cause of the deep love, ad­mi­ra­tion and re­spect I and my fam­ily have for Dan, Thomas and their fam­i­lies,” Fal­cons owner Arthur Blank said in a re­lease on the team’s web­site. “For many years, they have rep­re­sented me, our team, or­ga­ni­za­tion and At­lanta with class, com­mit­ment and all the pas­sion you would want in the lead­ers of the team. But as ev­ery­one knows, this is a re­sults busi­ness and I owe it to our fans to put the best prod­uct we can on the field. We have poured ev­ery re­source pos­si­ble into win­ning and will con­tinue to do so, but the re­sults of late do not meet our stan­dard or what I’ve promised our fans. There­fore, we will in­stall new coach­ing and per­son­nel lead­er­ship of the At­lanta Fal­cons at the ap­pro­pri­ate time.

“Our fin­ish in 2019 earned an op­por­tu­nity to show that mo­men­tum could be con­tin­ued and built upon, but that has clearly not hap­pened,” Blank con­tin­ued. “And over­all, the last 3-plus sea­sons have fallen short of my com­mit­ment to At­lanta and to our fans every­where. I want them all to know that my com­mit­ment to win­ning has not wa­vered and I will con­tinue to pro­vide ev­ery re­source pos­si­ble to that end.”

In his sec­ond sea­son, Quinn led the fran­chise to just its sec­ond Su­per Bowl ap­pear­ance, but the Fal­cons in­fa­mously squan­dered a 28-3 lead to Tom Brady and the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots, los­ing 34-28 in over­time in Fe­bru­ary 2017.

Quinn went 43-42 over­all at the helm, but he was just 14-23 since the be­gin­ning of the 2018 sea­son.

“Hon­estly, it’s the fur­thest thing from my mind,” Quinn, speak­ing soon af­ter the loss to the Pan­thers, said of his job se­cu­rity. “My job is coach­ing, and my fo­cus is on us to keep play­ing and play the way we can.”

Carolina (3-2) won its third in a row — all since McCaf­frey went down with a high an­kle sprain. Mike Davis has sure taken ad­van­tage of his op­por­tu­nity, fill­ing in bril­liantly for the in­jured All-Pro.

The Pan­thers built their lead be­hind touch­down passes of 57 yards to D.J. Moore and the short toss to Davis with 23 sec­onds left in the first half, draw­ing boos that could be heard even from a sparse, so­cially dis­tanced crowd of 6,656 at 75,000seat Mercedes-Benz Sta­dium.

At­lanta, which this sea­son be­came the first team in NFL his­tory to squan­der fourth-quar­ter leads of at least 15 points in con­sec­u­tive games, tried to turn the script in the sec­ond half, but the rally was de­nied.

“I know I’d like to play bet­ter than I did to­day,” At­lanta quar­ter­back Matt Ryan said. “Late in the game, you’ve got to find a way to punch it in.”

AP PHOTO BY JOHN BAZE­MORE

At­lanta Fal­cons quar­ter­back Matt Ryan looks for a re­ceiver un­der pres­sure dur­ing Sun­day’s home game against the Carolina Pan­thers. Ryan was 21-of-37 pass­ing for 226 yards with no touch­downs and an in­ter­cep­tion in At­lanta’s 23-16 loss, and he was sacked twice.

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