The Atlanta Falcons are just a couple of years removed from playing in the Super Bowl. And while their roster is largely the same as the one who played in that game, the team looks like a shell of its former self, as the Falcons have struggled to find ways to put points on the board. With their playoff hopes all but gone for 2018, the Falcons need to think about their future, and consider a future without current offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.
Sarkisian took over for former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who left the Falcons after their Super Bowl collapse to take the head coaching job of the San Francisco 49ers. Sarkisian has sort of failed upward for much of his career after doing a great job at the University of Washington. Substance abuse issues cost him his job at USC, after which he consulted Alabama’s offense to a loss in the College Football Playoff title game to Clemson, before becoming the OC in Atlanta.
Atlanta scored just 17 points in their week 12 loss to the New Orleans Saints, one that eliminated the Falcons from contention in the NFC South race. The thought of the Falcons being eliminated from the division title race so early in the season is unheard of in this era of Falcons football, which has been so successful for so long that this dip in performance feels more troubling than it would if the team had been playing poorly for an extended period of time.
The difference in performance between the Shanahan era and that of Sarkisian is alarming, despite the team having mostly the same offensive pieces in place. Atlanta outscored the rest of the NFC by over 100 points in 2016 under Shanahan. In 2017 with Sarkisian running the show, the Falcons finished eighth in the NFC in scoring, and are in the middle of the pack in the conference again in 2018.
To illustrate how far the Falcons offense has fallen under Sarkisian, look no further than the team’s Super Bowl LIII NFL betting odds. Through week 12 of the 2018 season, the Falcons find themselves at +25000 to win the big game, meaning that a bet of $100 on the Falcons would yield a payout of $25,000 if they were to win the Super Bowl. Those are the same odds as the lowly Detroit Lions, for context. With a roster as talented as the Falcons, there is no world in which the Falcons should have the same odds to win a title as the Lions.
Team owner Arthur Blank has given head coach Dan Quinn a vote of confidence amidst what has been a profoundly disappointing season for the Falcons. How much that actually means remains to be seen, but if Quinn stays, the team really needs to consider making a change at offensive coordinator to give him the best chance to succeed during the remainder of his tenure in Atlanta. With such a noticeable decline in the offense, it would be malpractice not to.