The Atlanta Falcons have gone 10-22 over the last two seasons, but they’re hoping that new head coach Dan Quinn can turn things around in a hurry.
If early results are any indication, the former Seattle defensive coordinator is doing just fine.
What has Quinn changed thus far in the organization? What has he brought?
“Just the energy, the excitement,” former NFL receiver and current 680 The Fan host Brian Finneran said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Mike Smith did a great job. I was able to play with him for three years – his first three years and Matt Ryan’s first three years. And (after) seven years as a head coach with the team, especially after two bad seasons, your message wears a little thin and it’s tough to get guys fired up to play ball. And the two things I think Dan Quinn has done: He’s got guys excited about playing football and guys believing in him. So he fits the part, he looks the role. Some guys show up and you’re just not sold that they’re head-coach material. But Dan Quinn is all-in and he looks the part. He feels it, talks it, he walks it, and fans, the team itself, guys in that building – everybody’s excited about Dan Quinn.”
But is it really just about changing the voice and a different guy delivering the message?
“No, absolutely not,” Finneran said, “but it can help. I think it goes a long way. You have to have some talent on that roster, and unfortunately the draft picks of late have not been good for the Atlanta Falcons. Even the free agency moves – Osi Umenyiora and Steven Jackson – guys that just didn’t work out how you would have liked them to. And (neither have the) draft picks: Peter Konz and Lamar Holmes and the Falcons just removed Joe Hawley, who was a fourth-rounder a few years ago. It’s tough. It is. The lack of talent on this football team really hurt them the last couple of years. So it’s not just about the message and speaking and energy. You got to have players that can play, and the Falcons have struggled to find those guys, especially on the offensive and defensive lines the last couple of years.”
While Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and the Falcons’ explosive offense gets a lot of attention, Quinn is a defensive guy, and he has a lot of young pieces in Atlanta. In fact, Finneran expects immediate improvement on that side of the ball.
“You know what? Sometimes on defense it can be as simple as a different voice and a better energy and guys believing in the system,” he said. “You do need players. I think Vic Beasley, Grady Jarrett – a couple of draft picks this year out of Clemson – (will help). Some free agent moves in Justin Durant and Adrian Clayborn have really been nice. And our middle linebacker from last year, Paul Worrilow out of Delaware University, has slimmed down a little bit and he’s flying around making plays at that linebacker position. With all those guys healthy and playing well, I think it’ll be a game-changer. . . . So there’s a lot of names on that defensive side of the ball that I think we’re excited about. And what we saw in the preseason when the 1s were in was fun to watch. They flew around. They made plays. They played their role and their scheme very well.”