Dan Quinn saved his job with a strong finish last year but couldn't outrun an 0-5 start to the 2020 campaign as Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank finally pulled the plug on his up-and-down tenure. General manager Thomas Dimitroff was also let go, signaling a full reboot coming to a franchise who has experienced subpar play and blown leads unlike any other the past few weeks.
Unlike some other gigs that could come open, there's still talent on the roster to build around. Matt Ryan is an established quarterback on an offense full of first-round picks and the defense has some young pieces on board as well. Given ownership's commitment, there should be no shortage of suitors for such an attractive opening.
Who could wind up replacing Quinn long term? Here are 10 candidates to watch that could be the next Falcons head coach:
The NFL Assistants
Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs offensive coordinator
The top option for every team this offseason, one wonders if the Falcons made their move with an eye at being first in line to interview Bieniemy. He's shown what he can do in terms of developing young QBs if the franchise moves on from Matt Ryan or could do some damage with his offense utilizing those weapons on the outside. His defensive coordinator hire could prove key but the latest Andy Reid protege is set for the big chair in 2020.
Brian Daboll, Bills offensive coordinator
Daboll is extremely familiar with both the Falcons and Mercedes-Benz Stadium. He won Super Bowl LI on the Patriots staff as part of the most famous comeback in the big game's history (and most infamous blown lead in Atlanta sports history). He also won a national title as Alabama's OC in the team's home stadium the year after that. He's been terrific up in Buffalo and seems to also be a hot name on the carousel this offseason.
Arthur Smith, Titans offensive coordinator
Smith hasn't been with the Titans a long time but will get plenty of looks for the big chair this offseason given how he's helped transform the team under Mike Vrabel. His work rehabilitating Ryan Tannehill's career plus run-centric approach could be attractive for a team hoping to get the last legs out of Matt Ryan and Todd Gurley.
Greg Roman, Ravens offensive coordinator
Roman has been a trendy name thanks to his work with Lamar Jackson but his career is not limited to Baltimore's creative but run-heavy offense. He's had extensive experience all over the league plus in college and has worked for a variety of very different head coaches too.
Josh McDaniels, Patriots offensive coordinator
If you can't beat him, hire him? The Falcons could offer a lot of control that few other franchises could to McDaniels, potentially allowing him to handpick a GM to work alongside. If ownership wanted to add some instant legitimacy to the head coach's handset, this might be the big-ticket move.
Matt Eberflus, Colts defensive coordinator
Eberflus has helped turn the Colts into one of the better defensive teams in the league and done so with a ton of under-the-radar talent too. He's been around a number of different head coaches/schemes and that flexibility could be attractive in trying to fix the notoriously leaky Atlanta defense.
Don "Wink" Martindale, Ravens defensive coordinator
He's played a big role in the quick turnaround of Baltimore's defenses into one of the better units in the league and could prove to be attractive for a franchise that badly needs to do the same. He's older (57) than some of the other names on this list but after the Quinn experience that could be viewed as a big positive
Dennis Allen, Saints defensive coordinator
Allen was born in Atlanta and has coached for the Falcons before. He obviously knows the division well from his time with the Saints and at least has head coaching experience even if the record with the Raiders was only 8-28. It may not exactly be a "win the press conference" hire but could help raise the floor significantly with the team.
The College Coaches
Matt Campbell, Iowa State head coach
If Blank is truly committed to a full overhaul, he might be wise to turn to the former Division III All-American who has risen up the ranks quickly and done a great job in Ames. Though not the flashiest name, he understands what it takes to win with less talent and the former OL coach could instill a new type of mentality to an organization in need of one. If given time, he could help instill a winning culture much like what Carolina is trying to do with another former Big 12 coach.
Tony Elliott, Clemson offensive coordinator
There's been plenty of talk about NFL teams trying to hire Dabo Swinney this cycle but it's much more realistic for them to hire his offensive coordinator. The Broyles Award winner as the top assistant in college football has helped transform the Tigers into one of the elite programs in the sport and has the type of offense that could fit well with the Falcons. If the team does wind up being in a position to draft a guy like Trevor Lawrence, the fit could turn out even better.
— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.
(Dan Quinn photo by Adler Garfield/Atlanta Falcons, courtesy of atlantafalcons.com)