Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Quinn a coach of year candidate (and looking back at Rex Ryan)

In a season that has merited Matt Ryan consideration for Most Valuable Player honors and Vic Beasley as the Defensive Player of the Year, coach Dan Quinn is also getting some love.'s Bucky Brooks added Quinn to his list of the top five Coach of the Year candidates this week. Brooks' top five coaches heading into the final week of the season are (in order): Jason Garrett (Dallas, 13-2), Andy Reid (Kansas City, 11-4), Jack Del Rio (Oakland, 12-3), Adam Gase (10-5) and Quinn (10-5).

Because the award is based on the regular season, it's going to be difficult to place Quinn ahead of Garrett, Reid or Del Rio. Here's Brooks' comments on Quinn:

The Falcons are rarely touted as a legitimate Super Bowl contender, but teams are beginning to fear the Dirty Birds based on their high-powered offense and rapidly improving defense. Quinn has entrusted Matt Ryan to spark the offense as an efficient playmaker from the pocket. The MVP candidate has helped the unit average 33.5 points, which is nearly 11 points (10.8 to be exact) better than the league average. Most impressive, they've been able to light up scoreboards without the services of a few of their top playmakers each week. Defensively, the Falcons have leaned on their young stalwarts ( Vic Beasley, Deion Jones, and Keanu Neal) to snuff out opponents with their collective speed, quickness and physicality. As the current No. 2 seed in the NFC, Quinn has the Falcons sitting pretty heading into the postseason.

Quinn was given this nod on the same day Buffalo fired Rex Ryan. Interesting because at the time Quinn was hired in 2015, many Falcons fans wanted the team to hire Ryan. Here's a look back at some of the known candidates:

• Dan Quinn (18-13, playoffs): He is 8-8 and 10-5 in his two seasons.  The collapse after the 5-0 start a year ago prompted him to pay close attention to team building and chemistry in the offseason, which included bringing in Navy SEALS for training and redesigning the locker room. That has paid off as much as the personnel moves orchestrated by Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff.

• Todd Bowles (14-17 with the New York Jets): He might have been the No. 2 candidate but when he knew the Falcons were set on hiring Quinn from Seattle after the Super Bowl, he took the Jets job. Bowles went 10-6 in his first season but lost a playoff bid in the final week when New York lose to Buffalo 22-17. This season went sideways early this season, with the Jets starting 1-5. They're 4-11 after being blown out by New England 41-3 last week. New York ranks 30th in scoring offense and 29th in scoring defense. There have been rumors Bowles might lose his job. That seems doubtful but with the Jets nothing is ever certain.

• Josh McDaniels (offensive coordinator, New England): Dimitroff and Scott Pioli liked McDaniel (the three were together in New England) but there is some debate if the job would've fallen to him or Bowles had Quinn let it be known he wasn't interested. McDaniels was a disaster in his two years as Denver's head coach. He made the awful decision to draft Tim Tebow in the first round. But he has rehabilitated his reputation after one year as an offensive coordinator in St. Louis and four years back in New England. He's likely to get a head coaching job this time.

• Ryan (15-16, fired by Buffalo): He was the popular pick among some Falcons' fans because, well, Ryan knows how to get people excited. But he also tends to turn on people when things go wrong, and that has been the case in Buffalo. His act has worn thin on players and he has clashed with the front office. As a reminder, Ryan inherited a pretty talented Bills roster, which included the likes LeSean McCoy, Sammy Watkins and Tyrod Taylor. But the biggest problem is on defense, which should be in the wheelhouse of Rex and Rob Ryan (the head coach's brother and defensive coordinator). But Buffalo ranks only 19th in yards allowed and 15th in points against and 21st in takeaways. There also were several times when they were caught with only 10 players on the field. That's a reflection on coaching.

• Adam Gase (10-5 with Miami): The Falcons interviewed Gase, who was long viewed as a sharp young quarterback coach and offensive coordinator with Denver and Chicago. There was some debate as to whether he was ready for a head coaching job in 2015. But he done a great job in his first season with the Dolphins, who had made the playoffs just once in the previous 14 seasons. Most projected Miami to win seven games but after starting the season 1-4, it has won nine of 10 games.

• Teryl Austin (defensive coordinator, Detroit): Notwithstanding the 42-21 loss at Dallas Monday night, Detroit's defensive coordinator might be on a head coaching track. He was interviewed by the Falcons.

The Falcons did well to choose Quinn.

EARLIER: This could be Falcons' window in NFC South

PODCAST: Zach and I discuss Falcons' No. 2 seed and my decision on leaving Hall of Fame voting.

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About the Author

Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.