Falcons' Quinn on Sarkisian returning: Blaming one person would be wrong

The Atlanta Falcons' season ended in the Divisional Round of the playoffs when they dropped a tight contest to the Philadelphia Eagles. Given how that game ended -- with a failed fourth-down play from the 2-yard line that involved a predictable play-call and a catchable pass that Julio Jones couldn't come down with -- questions regarding offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian sprung up. Would the Falcons replace their first-year offensive coordinator after a disappointing season?

The answer to that question is no. On Thursday, Falcons coach Dan Quinn confirmed that Sarkisian will return as the team's offensive coordinator in 2018.

"Placing blame on one person would be wrong in this instance," he said, per the team. "If this was about one person, that decision would've already been made."

Sarkisian landed the job last February in the aftermath of Kyle Shanahan's departure for San Francisco. He inherited an offense led by league MVP Matt Ryan, All-Universe receiver Julio Jones, and two top-notch running backs in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. In 2016, en route to the Super Bowl, the Falcons' offense scored 33.8 points per game and ranked first in DVOA. Sarkisian, coming off a stint as Alabama's offensive coordinator after his tenure at USC ended with a firing amid reports of alcohol abuse issues, pretty much found himself in the best possible situation.

Things didn't go as planned. In 2017, they Falcons still trotted out a top-10 offense by DVOA, but their scoring dropped to 22.1 points per game. Problematically, the Falcons scored a touchdown on only 49.2 percent of their red-zone trips, according to TeamRankings.com. It was fitting then that the Falcons' season ended when Sarkisian called this play from the 2-yard line when they needed a touchdown to survive and advance:

To make matters worse, Eagles players revealed after the game that they knew the play-call before the ball was snapped, which doesn't exactly reflect well upon the play-caller.

Despite all of their season-long issues, the Falcons are sticking with Sarkisian. And they shouldn't automatically be mocked for valuing continuity. After all, Shanahan's first season as the Falcons' offensive coordinator didn't go well. In 2015, the Falcons' offense ranked seventh in yards, but 21st in points. That should sound familiar. In Sarkisian's first season, the Falcons' offense ranked eighth in yards, but 15th in points.

Heading into the 2016 season, I was writing blogs that poked fun at the Ryan-Shanahan combo. Then they shut me up with an incredible season -- well, right up until the moment they blew a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl, at which point I was free to make fun of them again. The point being, we can sometimes be too quick to rush to judgement on coaches.

Was Sarkisian good in 2017? Nope. Can he improve in 2018? Probably.  

That doesn't mean the Falcons are guaranteed to take a leap under Sarkisian in Year 2. It's just that sometimes it takes more than a season for an offense and a play-caller to jell. The Falcons are giving Sarkisian that second chance, but they likely won't give him a third.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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