Falcons’ embarrassing incidents have eroded public’s confidence

122815 ATLANTA: Falcons owner Arthur Blank (from left), head coach Dan Quinn, and general manager Thomas Dimitroff watch the team warmup before playing the Panthers in a football game on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015, in Atlanta. The Falcons are looking to play better than in their rematch after a recent 38-0 loss to the Panthers in Charlotte. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

This hasn’t been a happy offseason for Falcons owner Arthur Blank (from left), head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

DUNEDIN, Fla. — The Falcons just want this to go away. Some unsolicited advice: Act like a professional sports organization and there won’t be a need to spend so much time in the offseason putting out fires.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn and secondary coach Marquand Manual both apologized for an inappropriate question Manual asked a draft prospect at the recent NFL scouting combine.

The statements by Quinn and Manual did not address an accusation from an undisclosed source to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter that the inappropriate line of questioning to Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple was not an isolated incident. A team spokesman declined to comment on the source’s comment to Ledbetter that, “A few players told me the Falcons were asking gender (sic) questions” (presumably meaning sexual orientation).

So draw your own conclusions: Either, 1) The Falcons don’t want to address what they believe to be a baseless accusation; or, 2) The Falcons don’t feel the need to address an issue that may or may not be true because no player other than Apple has come forward to say he was asked, “Do you like men?”; or, 3) If Marquand or another assistant was found to have asked about a player’s sexual orientation but denied that to Quinn, only to be found later to have lied about it, the Falcons would look bad by issuing a denial now.

I weighed in on the absurdity of questioning an athlete’s sexual orientation the other day. That blog is linked here. If it’s found this was not an isolated incident, somebody should lose a job. There remains a possibility that the NFL will at least fine the team.

It’s worth noting, as Quinn alluded to his statement below, that Marquand’s question to Apple was not a part of some formal Falcons’ interviewing process that involved Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff at the main hotel at the scouting combine. Rather, it took place at another hotel where players, assistant coaches and scouts roam the lobby and hallways. It also was at that other hotel where defensive line coach Bryan Cox admitted pushing away an Arizona scout who was trying to take an unnamed player from an interview with the Falcons to the Cardinals.

Bottom line: These should not be an NFL team’s storylines in the season. The Falcons are still trying to clean up the mess following their delayed decision to release wide receiver Roddy White, whose ensuing critical comments of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan have increased the heat on the coach.

By the time the Falcons play Game 1 of next season, much of this will be on the back-burner. But the incidents continue to damage the brand of a franchise that has gone three straight seasons without making the playoffs and is struggling to regain the momentum it had from 2008 to 2012, the first five seasons with coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan.

The Cox and combine incidents in particular have eroded the public’s confidence in the front office and coaching staff, which is a bad look when a team is trying to sell free agents and their agents on the team’s vision. The Falcons’ biggest concern right now is: Can they convince everybody they know what they’re doing and they’re heading in the right direction?

Here are the statements from Quinn and Manual:

QUINN

“I have spoken to every coach on our staff individually and collectively today in regards to what happened at the Combine. The inappropriate conversation occurred between one of our position coaches and the player; it was not during one of our formal 15-minute interviews. Following my discussions with the coaches, we have taken additional steps to ensure our entire staff is well educated on the appropriate questions and comments that should be made during these processes. We had a training seminar with a league-approved counselor here at our facility today with our entire coaching staff regarding social responsibility. Our organization holds itself to a very high standard and we will learn from this.”

MANUAL

“I take full responsibility for the inappropriate question I asked at the Combine. It was wrong and I apologize to Eli Apple, Mr. Blank, the entire Falcons organization, my family, and our Falcon fans for my insensitivity. I understand it was inappropriate and the offense people have taken to it. I have had an individual counseling session on social responsibility today, and was part of a staff session as well, and found it very valuable in learning from this situation. Moving forward, I will become a better man by going through all of this.”

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Reader Comments 0

37 comments
E983
E983

Another mistake made. Rid of Roddy. Ok. Come on Dan Quinn.

candlin14
candlin14

These two ridiculous incidents has not affected my confidence in the front office or coaching staff. My confidence has been shattered far long ago!!!!

escapeplan
escapeplan

Since this took place roaming the halls at a hotel, maybe Manual was just looking for a date?  Did anyone ask Tommy D or Coach Quinn if that was the case?

johngaltjkt
johngaltjkt

This team is a joke...a sad joke that has returned to it's historical level of incompetence, stupidity and on field ineptitude.  You have a meddling owner and a General Manager(or is it Managers?) that should have been fired when Smitty was fired.  They are an embarrassment that believe they're above accountability.  I like Dan Quin but I believe he's made a huge mistake coming to Atlanta(he'll admit that after this next season when our NFC South rivals are all better and our schedule is tougher).  After they go 8 & 8 (at best) this next season he'll be on the hot seat in 2017 for the opening of the huge boondoggle of a stadium that's being built.      

DawgNole
DawgNole

JS: "The Cox and combine incidents in particular have eroded the public’s confidence in the front office and coaching staff . . . ."

______________________

Hate to tell you but the public's confidence in this front office and coaching staff eroded long before this latest stupidity.

RomanLegions
RomanLegions

First..fire Dimitroff..  The NFL approving the 2016 Super Bowl anti-law enforcement  halftime show has shaken the confidence of many fans.. NFL, you're weak in lacking the courage to say JUST SAY NO..

robo2000
robo2000

With millions riding on every selection, why not ask the question, and in today's world sexual orientation is no big deal.

im4ball
im4ball

@JeffSchultzAJC the bad play and play calling undermined fans confidence and put the team in a position to be questioned about everything

TomGaff
TomGaff

Only with the PC gaffers of society is anyone offended?

OH:IO
OH:IO

FIRE SCHANNY

Adam_Klug
Adam_Klug

@JeffSchultzAJC why would that line of questioning be isolated to ONLY Eli Apple? Why him and nobody else?

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

We should've hired Malarkey for HC. We'd have made the playoffs and scored 30 per game.

jdub2527
jdub2527

@JeffSchultzAJC this team is a mess...dare I say they are heading the direction of the Browns? That's frightening

jerrasic_
jerrasic_

@JeffSchultzAJC Just the liberal fringe groups to which people in the media belong. Out here in the real world, we couldn't care less.

E983
E983

For the player that is to become either a draftee or a free agent what does it matter. His stats are important. His background is important. Even the Wonderlic is old news.

ATLJOE
ATLJOE

Listening to his press conferences and interviews, DQ doesn't sound like a head coach.  Still carries himself like a coordinator. 

FrankieB
FrankieB

My confidence was gone after Quinn & Co. allowed the Falcons to lose 7/8 games against mostly bad/mediocre competition, ruining the season. 8 games to make an adjustment is far too long.


If I had to pick one moment to define when I lost faith, it was when Quinn chose to kick a field goal down by more than 3 with less than 2 minutes to go against San Francisco.