FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn made clear he backs Steve Sarkisian as offensive coordinator going into the 2018 season despite the team's drop-off in offensive production.
Although there was outside speculation regarding Sarkisian's status after one season, Quinn and the organization never had any doubts about Sarkisian's return.
"I know your first question, and I'm not even going to wait for it: So, yes, Sark is coming back in 2018,'' Quinn said during Thursday's season-ending news conference. "And we've done this dance before. Back in 2016, I stood in front of you and we had some conversations about [former coordinator] Kyle Shanahan. And a number of people wanted his head.
"Well, they're different people, and they're different coaches. But what has stayed the same, and what I learned during that process, is what you're doing in order to build consistency, you better be consistent.''
There was a natural adjustment period for Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman and the rest of the offensive players to Sarkisian, who attempted to carry on some of the same basic principles of the successful scheme Shanahan implemented, with a few added wrinkles. Sarkisian didn't have his full complement of weapons to work with upon his arrival, with Jones (foot surgery) and speedster Taylor Gabriel (lower leg) missing extensive offseason practice time. And throughout the 2017 season, the offense simply didn't flow as fluidly as it did during the Super Bowl run the previous season, when the Falcons averaged a league-best 33.8 points per game. The scoring output dipped to 22.1 points per game in '17.
Despite the disparity and noticeable red zone woes, Quinn never pointed the blame at Sarkisian. Quinn said he didn't have too much issue with the four goal-to-go playcalls that essentially ended the Falcons' season in last week's 15-10 divisional playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
"Do I think Sark and the staff will go through every play and everything we did this season? Yes,'' Quinn said. "To examine what was wrong with our scoring is not an indication on one playcaller or on one player. It's on all of us.
"There's plenty of plays Sark would like to have back. There's some throws that Matt would like to have back. I'm sure there were some drops from our receivers, our tight ends, and our running backs that they would like to have back. And myself, some calls that I'd like to have back. But placing blame on one person would be wrong in this instance.''
The Falcons will have some staff changes on offense, however, with quarterbacks coach Bush Hamdan moving on to be the offensive coordinator at the University of Washington. Quinn confirmed he is talking to Jedd Fisch, Ken Dorsey and Gregg Knapp for the position. Quinn added that Ryan is not part of the decision-making process, saying Ryan trusts the coaching staff to secure the right coach for the job to help supplement Sarkisian and the rest of the offensive coaches.
"I'm going to take all the time I need,'' Quinn said of hiring a new quarterbacks coach.