Atlanta Falcons Needed Steve Sarkisian Shake Up
After a Super Bowl 51 loss, the Atlanta Falcons needed a shot in their arms to keep their eyes open for the future. Is Steve Sarkisian a good hire?
Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn decided to replace former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan with a lightning rod candidate in Steve Sarkisian. It’s absolutely the right hire to avoid a Super Bowl hangover:
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Source confirms that Steve Sarkisian is all but certain to be named the #Falcons next offensive coordinator. Announcement forthcoming.
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) February 7, 2017
Shanahan officially accepted the head coaching position with the San Francisco 49ers, leaving the stench of an excruciating loss behind:
The #49ers and Kyle Shanahan have agreed to terms. He’s their coach
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 7, 2017
What about the Falcons? Nearly 36 hours after allowing a 25-point third-quarter lead slip away, the team needs a shot of energy—something or someone to provide hope for redemption. Who better than a man looking to right his own past transgressions and get back on his coaching feet?
Take Sarkisian’s coaching tendencies and place them aside for a moment. His unceremonious exit from the head coaching post at USC followed by a one-game audition as Alabama’s offensive coordinator smears his successes at Washington. After all, the NFL is about “what have you done lately?”
Nonetheless, Pete Carroll’s disciplines will join forces in an attempt to help the Falcons rise again. In a sense, it’s parallel to Carroll’s protégés. Quinn lost his second Super Bowl to the Patriots—one as a defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks and this past Sunday as a head coach. We haven’t discussed Sarkisian in a successful light since his 9-4 season with USC in 2014.
Looking Forward with the Falcons
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In the upcoming season, it’s all about redemption for the Falcons organization. Will they fall flat like the Carolina Panthers after a Super Bowl loss? How does Quinn grow from the play-calling gaffes that kept the Patriots in the game? How does Sarkisian fare in the NFL ranks with sustained success at only one collegiate program?
One thing is for sure, the Falcons new offensive coordinator has the talent on the roster and drive to be successful. Sarkisian doesn’t have to look any further than wide receiver Julio Jones, a pair of productive running backs and the league MVP to realize he’s working with a full deck.
FOX Sports’ Bruce Feldman highlighted an interesting quote from Sarkisian after his summer visits with multiple organizations:
I just had never had an August in my life that I can remember that I wasn’t at training camp. I visited the Atlanta Falcons, the University of Florida, the Tampa Bay Bucs and Alabama. My first stop was Atlanta, and it took one practice. As soon as I got out on that field with (head coach) Dan Quinn, that staff, I knew this is where I need to be, this is where I want to be. This is what I love doing.
In Feldman’s report, he made it clear that Sarkisian knew he wanted to coach again, not necessarily with the Falcons but somewhere on the sidelines calling plays. Ironically, he took roles at two of the places he visited over the summer.
Though short-lived, Sarkisian’s stint as Alabama’s offensive analyst before replacing Lane Kiffin in the College Football Playoff Championship game removed the, “don’t touch” label from his name. Now, he can remove the “choker” tag from the Falcons.
Sarkisian’s success isn’t defined by a Super Bowl reappearance in the upcoming year. The team must pull together for a complete effort. However, if an overachieving 2016 Falcons team can remain in the national spotlight, it’s enough to shake off the franchise’s mediocrity and a coordinator’s tumultuous recent past.