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Nobody doubts that Quinn is a fine fellow who, for a couple of years, appeared destined to lead this team to greatness. He almost got there, but he didn't. Everything since 28-3 has been diminishing returns, and recent returns are nigh-invisible. (Gradually, then suddenly.) It has all come undone. The Falcons were horrid on offense, on defense and at things involving kicking. All three phases, to use DQ's pet description.

There's seldom much gain in firing a coach whose team is 1-6; when you're that bad, Lombardi himself couldn't make you good. This, however, seems a time when inaction is imprudent. Nine games remain, and the Quinn question - is he gone yet? - will hang heavy over each one.

Blank said little after this latest loss - "disappointed," was his word of choice - but he must know it's time to sever ties with Quinn, even if it's for the sake of appearances. Because appearances are abominable. The final minutes of this grim tableau had the feel of a second half in an August exhibition. The starting quarterbacks were gone, Mercedes-Benz Stadium was 75% empty and nothing mattered. Not even the fumble the Rams recovered for a touchdown with 11 seconds left.

Nine games remain, but the season's gone. Dan Quinn tried his best, but the DQ Way stopped working a while back. Now everything's awful and Matt Ryan has a boot on his foot. Gradually, then suddenly, it's over.

Visit The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.) at www.ajc.com

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