Steve Sarkisian is the new offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons. Sarkisian comes from Alabama and has experience with the Oakland Raiders, USC and Washington.
Steve Sarkisian may not be that familiar to Falcons fans. But he is to Dan Quinn. And Quinn had a suspicion this day may come.
From the start of his coaching career, Sarkisian gained a reputation as an innovative offensive coach. Sarkisian spent several years in the early 2000s working at University of Southern California. During that time, he helped coach some of the most prolific offenses in college football history, filling many roles from quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator to assistant head coach during the 2001-2003 and 2005-08 seasons under Pete Carroll. Carroll is another coach Quinn calls among his most respected in the business.
Sarkisian is known for his offensive creativity and player development skills, especially at the quarterback position. At USC, Sarkisian coached Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, helping them win Heisman Trophies. He played a big role in what would became the first team to win six straight Pac-10 titles, and the first team in college football to record six straight 11-win seasons.
Sarkisian also spent the 2004 season working as the quarterbacks coach for the Oakland Raiders where he worked with Kerry Collins and Rich Gannon. The Raiders were a top 10 passing offense that season, throwing for over 4,000 yards.
Prior to accepting the job with the Falcons, Sarkisian served as the University of Alabama's offensive coordinator for last month's National Championship game under Nick Saban after Lane Kiffin took the head coaching job at Florida Atlantic. Sarkisian was originally hired to be an offensive analyst for the Crimson Tide earlier that season. And Saban is one of the reasons Quinn felt good about the Sarkisian hire.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn worked on Saban's staff when he was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 2005-06. Quinn said he reached out to Saban prior to contacting Sarkisian about the job opening. And Saban endorsed Sarkisian for the position.
Quinn originally met Sarkisian during their time in Seattle, where Quinn was the defensive coordinator the Seattle Seahawks and Sarkisian was the head coach at University of Washington from 2009-13.
Last spring, Sarkisian made a visit to Flowery Branch to attend an OTA session, and it was during that visit that Quinn had his first inkling that Sarkisian may be a potential candidate to replace Kyle Shanahan if Shanahan were to get a head coaching gig.
Before joining Saban's staff in Tuscaloosa, Sarkisian was the head coach at University of Southern California from 2014-15, leading his team to 12-6 overall record.
Before making the decision to hire Sarkisian, Quinn said they went through a thorough vetting process, as culture fits are extremely important to the foundation that has been built in Atlanta.
"We went through the process to check and make sure everything aligned with our organization in terms of culture and values," Quinn said on Tuesday. "Honestly, he's done a fantastic job. There were zero hesitations, zero limitations heading into our approach today, [with] all players and coaches, you want to make sure the background is correct. We went through the process with him and it one hundred percent is."
Quinn stated the Falcons are committed to the offensive system they have in place, one Sarkisian has proven expertise in running.
"What an aggressive play-caller he's been through the years," Quinn said. "He has a real familiarity from the wide zone scheme, the keepers that are such a big part of what we do."
Atlanta's new offensive coordinator played in the Canadian Football League for three seasons after playing for college ball at Brigham Young Unviversity. During his time in Provo, Utah, Sarkisian won the Sammy Baugh Trophy as the nation's top passer.