The Falcons knew they would be losing offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to the San Francisco 49ers, but after blowing a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl LI to the Patriots, Atlanta fired defensive line coach Bryan Cox and will replace defensive coordinator Richard Smith. Former Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will serve as Kyle Shanahan's replacement.
On Wednesday's episode of "Undisputed," Skip Bayless ripped the Falcons for their knee-jerk staffing changes, and said the team may not recover from the decisions.
Skip Bayless: The Falcons are dismantling their own staff in a panic
"This was a sad and a laughable overreaction by the Atlanta Falcons organization, and I’m going to assume -- I don’t know this for a fact --but I’m going to assume it came from the top down. That somebody, all the way up to the owner, said, ‘Heads must roll, somebody must pay for this.’
"Because remember, Arthur Blank dominated in the field of business. He was one of the co-founders of Home Depot, and he’s known nothing but winning off the field. Now he’s become known as the dancing fool up in the press box and down in the locker room, on the sidelines. We saw him again and again as it rose toward 28-3, him and his wife are up there high-fiving and dancing. They go down on the field to celebrate Atlanta’s first Super Bowl victory, and what happened? They got Brady’d. That’s what happened."
USA TODAY SportsDan Powers-USA TODAY Sports
Skip: Arthur Blank was embarrassed
"So now, it was such humiliation for this man to have to stand down there in the national spotlight and watch this disaster happen to his Atlanta Falcons that somebody must pay.
"So, wait a second. You’re going to fire the defensive coordinator and the defensive line coach? Hold on. Your defense came into this game maybe the hottest defense in pro football. Right? And this defense, for two and a half quarters, made Tom Brady look old and overmatched. They were all over him. New England couldn’t block the Atlanta Falcons’ pass rush. New England couldn’t run an inch on this defense. And then, if you give Brady enough time -- and I’m not talking about time in the pocket, just in the game … all of the sudden he started to find ways to pick apart the defense. And 28-3 became 34-28."
Dale ZanineDale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Skip: Kyle Shanahan should have been fired had he not already lined up a job
"Yet, that’s the defensive coordinator’s [fault]? Wait a second. Dan Quinn, really, he’s the coordinator of the defense. Am I right about that? So could you fire Dan Quinn? Who could have been coach of the year? No, but you could fire the coordinator.
"It was a fireable offense, more to me, for the offensive coordinator. So I can make the case that Kyle Shanahan was blessed to have a secure job in waiting, a head coaching job, $8 million a year.
"If you look at where Kyle Shanahan’s been, he’s bounced all around. He’s been with the Bucs, the Texans, the Redskins, the Browns, the Falcons. I can make the case that he might be out on the street looking for another coordinator or even quarterback job if in fact he hadn’t fallen into the 49ers job. Because I thought he was more at fault than the defense was."
Mark J. RebilasMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Skip: The Falcons will not be back next year
"It’s fireable offenses everywhere, but again, this team was up 28-3. And now heads are going to roll because of that? I just think it’s an absurd overreaction, and it’s going to hurt this team going forward.
"I don’t think this team is going to recover, and this is the kind of team that misses the playoffs next year."
Richard MacksonRichard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Shannon: Defensive coaches are taking the blame when the offense cost the Falcons
"They panicked. And they aren’t getting over this any time soon. The question I ask for whomever made this choice: If Kyle Shanahan did not have the 49ers job, would you have relieved him of his duties?
"Probably not. I don’t think so. Because you look at [former defensive line coach] Bryan Cox. Bryan Cox took Vic Beasley, who they thought was a bust. Vic Beasley won the sack award, Deacon Jones sack award, most sacks in a season.
"Look at the improvement in Grady Jarrett. He tied the Super Bowl record with three sacks. It’s not like they’ve got a great front four rotation. So I thought that B-Cox did a great job. Richard Smith, I know Richard Smith very well. He’s my special teams coach, he was with me for two years in Denver.
"Dan Quinn … you call the majority of these plays. The same thing happened."
Bob DonnanBob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Shannon: Dan Quinn could have stepped in to stop the Falcons’ collapse
"See, the way I look at it, and this is what Mike Shanahan used to tell us: If an offensive team … if we do not run X amount of plays, that’s our fault. For the New England Patriots to run 93 plays, that’s on the Falcons’ offense. That’s not on Richard Smith. [His defense] has to be out there on the field because why? Because Kyle Shanahan, up 28-3, refused to run the football.
"… I think the majority of the blame goes on Dan Quinn. You know why? Because he can hear both sets of calls. He can hear the offensive coordinator and the defensive coordinator.
"Let’s take Nick Saban. When Lane Kiffin wasn’t running the ball like he was supposed to, [Saban] walked right down there and said, “You run that ball.”
"Dan Quinn could have said that. Dan Quinn, did you see what happened to you in Seattle when they threw the pass instead of running it? You saw what happened!"