You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

Falcons’ Quinn fires assistants Smith, Cox


Falcons coach Dan Quinn dismissed defensive coordinator Richard Smith and Bryan Cox on Wednesday, moves that the team said weren’t motivated by the collapse against the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

The Falcons are considering three internal candidates to replace Smith: passing game coordinator Jerome Henderson, secondary coach Marquand Manuel and linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich. None of those coaches has ever coordinated an NFL defense.

Quinn was not available to comment on the staff changes. Smith and Cox did not respond to messages.

Smith is considering staying with the Falcons in an advisory role after guiding their defense the past two seasons. His departure should not have much impact on the Falcons’ defensive philosophy and strategy.

Quinn, a defensive coordinator with the Seahawks before getting his first head coaching job, is the architect of the defense. Quinn took on more game play-calling responsibilities during the 2016 season and the defense showed significant improvement after the team’s bye in Week 11.

After allowing 28.3 points per game and forcing 11 turnovers over the first 10 games, the Falcons gave up 19 points per game and forced 11 turnovers over the final six weeks of the regular season (not including nine points scored by Kansas City’s defense).

For the season the Falcons ranked 27th in points allowed per game, 25th in yards allowed per game and 21st in yards allowed per play. Their 22 turnovers forced ranked 16th among 32 NFL teams.

The Falcons played effective defense in playoff victories against the Seahawks and Packers. In the Super Bowl they held the Patriots to three points in the first half and nine points deep into the third quarter.

But the Falcons lost 34-28 in overtime to the Patriots while surrendering 31 points and 336 yards on 51 plays (6.6 average) after halftime. They couldn’t sustain what had been a strong pass rush against quarterback Tom Brady and their defensive backs were repeatedly beaten in man-to-man coverage.

Following the Super Bowl, and during a news conference two days later, Quinn said he believes the defense “ran out of gas” in the Super Bowl. The defense ended up on the field for 93 plays in part because the offense struggled to convert third downs, committed a turnover and continued to play at a quick tempo even after building the big lead.

Smith, 61, has been an NFL assistant coach since 1988. He was defensive coordinator for the Dolphins in 2005 and the Texans from 2006-08.

Quinn retained Cox as a holdover from Falcons coach Mike Smith’s staff. Cox, 48, played linebacker for 12 seasons in the NFL and before joining the Falcons had been an assistant with the Jets, Browns, Dolphins and Buccaneers.

Smith and Cox join running backs coach Bobby Turner and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan as departures from Quinn’s staff. The 49ers hired Shanahan as their head coach this week and Turner is set to join Shanahan’s staff.

Quinn hired Steve Sarkisian to replace Shanahan.

Falcons quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur also is expected to be hired as Rams offensive coordinator.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Atlanta Falcons

Julio Jones’ injury update: ‘The foot’s good’
Julio Jones’ injury update: ‘The foot’s good’

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, who recently had foot surgery, gave an update after his appearance at the state capitol Wednesday. “I’m good,” Jones told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The foot’s good. I’m two weeks out now, I think, but it’s good.” Jones was on hand to announce the name for the...
Falcons sign guard, two fullbacks
Falcons sign guard, two fullbacks

The Falcons signed guard Hugh Thornton, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts, and fullbacks Derrick Coleman and Soma Vainuku on Tuesday. Thornton, 25, was a third-round pick (86th overall) out of Illinois in the 2013 draft. Thornton has started 32 games for the Colts. He missed last season with a foot injury. The Falcons haven’t re-signed starting...
Falcons give Rich McKay a five-year contract extension
Falcons give Rich McKay a five-year contract extension

The Falcons re-signed team president and CEO Rich McKay to a five-year contract extension through June 2022. McKay is entering his 14th year with the Falcons. He was hired in 2004 as president and general manager and became the team president and CEO in 2011. He is chairman of the NFL’s Competition Committee, of which he has been a member for...
Camp Brotherhood set for Florida again
Camp Brotherhood set for Florida again

For the second season in a row, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is organizing “players-only” camp that will be held in Florida before the players report for the strength and conditioning program on April 17. Last season, during their march to the Super Bowl, several players contended the players-only camp helped to build a strong bond on...
5 positions the Falcons need to fill
5 positions the Falcons need to fill

The Falcons are not undergoing a makeover this offseason. Currently, 19 of the 22 starters in the Super Bowl are set to return, but that doesn’t mean the team is standing pat. “Not every team is the same, year to year,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “I’ve never been someone that’s said, let’s reload and do...
More Stories