The Atlanta Falcons aren't exactly the front runners to win the NFC South this year, but general manager Thomas Dimitroff isn't exactly embracing the underdog role for his team either. Even though the Falcons revamped their roster with former first-round picks across the board (and still may be the third-best team in the division behind the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Dimitroff put all the pressure on head coach Dan Quinn to perform in 2020.
"There are high expectations coming into this season," Dmitroff said on the Bird Noises podcast this past week. "Everyone knows that. No one is shying away from that. Dan and myself included."
While the expectations may be high for the Falcons, Dimitroff's comments essentially confirm making the playoffs won't be enough for Quinn to save his job. D. Orlando Ledbetter, who covers the Falcons for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, touched on this last week during the "Pick Six Podcast."
"I don't think he'll be returning at 8-8, unless it's one of the 8-8's where you get one of the new wild card spots -- but even that might not be enough to save it," Ledbetter said. "They need to get in and make a run."
Atlanta missed the playoffs for the second consecutive year and finished under .500 in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2013 and 2014. In Quinn's five seasons at the helm, he's only had an over .500 record twice and missed the playoffs three times. Quinn was on the "hot seat" last season, but he earned himself another chance in 2020 after Atlanta finished the season 6-2 following a 1-7 start.
There's a lot of stock in that 6-2 finish, despite the Falcons beating the Carolina Panthers twice (with Kyle Allen at quarterback) and defeating the San Francisco 49ers on a last-second play. Atlanta's schedule is much tougher this season, as the Falcons face the Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers and the AFC West (which features the Kansas City Chiefs, of course) in 2020. Then there's that whole playing the Saints and Buccaneers twice a year portion of their schedule.
"I do believe this is a very talented football team," Dimitroff said. "We need to continue to grow together as a football team. We need to continue to be consistent and work through things together."
The Falcons added Todd Gurley and Dante Fowler as their priority free agent signings after losing Austin Hooper, Vic Beasley, and Desmond Trufant in the offseason. The team also released Devonta Freeman, who still remains unsigned.
Atlanta clearly has a lot of talent on its roster, but the Falcons' schedule and the competitiveness of their division may play a factor in how well they'll perform this year. Dimitroff's expectations just put more pressure on Quinn, as just making the playoffs may not be enough to keep his job.