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  1. Raheem Morris learned something early about Takk McKinley. A coach can’t just go up to him and tell him he’s doing something wrong. Emotional players often don’t respond well to attempted corrective measures. It’s best to first get a sense of the man’s mood. Move in slow. Read the room, even if there’s only one person in the room. “People struggle with Takk because of a lack of communication,” said Morris, the Falcons’ defensive coordinator. “But when you coach good players, and Takk is that, you know they’re going to be emotional. Ronde Barber was like that. Not Takk-ish, but emotional.
  2. https://theathletic.com/1984507/2020/08/09/schultz-thomas-dimitroff-on-the-season-under-performance-jobs-on-the-line/ The Falcons are five weeks away from their season opener against Seattle, assuming there is a season to be played. It will be a pivotal year for coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who teamed up for a Super Bowl run in 2016 but have followed that with a second-round playoff exit in 2017 and postseason misses the past two seasons. The Falcons went 7-9 last season but had their playoff hopes buried early by a 1-7 start that nearly cost Quinn his
  3. https://theathletic.com/1978973/2020/08/06/schultz-why-grady-jarrett-is-the-way-he-is-and-why-falcons-need-more-like-him/ Before anybody knew really who Grady Jarrett was, before he helped elevate a floundering college football program to a national force and an NFL team to near Super Bowl champion, he was off the grid. Major college scouts never ventured out to Conyers because Rockdale County High School wasn’t a Georgia program known to produce high-level talent. The program had one winning season in Jarrett’s four years. Nobody was going to come to watch him. So he went to them.
  4. https://theathletic.com/1958630/2020/07/28/schultz-dan-quinn-needs-a-turnaround-but-its-a-tough-time-to-pull-it-off/ Dan Quinn is all about positivity. This might not seem possible for someone who works in the presumed most dangerous sport during a pandemic and for a team that has failed to make the playoffs the past two years and has had declining win totals in the past three and for an owner who came this close to firing him last season. But Quinn is different. The man could be standing alone on a dusty plain, in the path of stampeding rhinos, and scream to the beasts, “I love yo
  5. https://theathletic.com/1862904/2020/06/09/schultz-matt-ryan-on-social-justice-colin-kaepernick-and-a-strange-offseason/ These past several weeks of sports’ virtual reality, from team meetings to news conferences, reached Matt Ryan’s home Tuesday. The Falcons’ quarterback met with Atlanta media members Tuesday via his son’s iPad mini. It wouldn’t seem like an ideal backdrop for Ryan to open up, but he had a number of interesting comments, including what moved him to start a GoFundMe page to support the black community (he donated $500,000, and the fund has surpassed $1 million); hi
  6. https://theathletic.com/1773323/2020/04/25/schultz-falcons-dan-quinn-trying-to-fix-defense-without-seahawks-blueprint/ Every draft selection goes something like this: Team drafts player. Player celebrates. Team says it can’t believe the player fell because the team had been targeting him since middle school, and he’s going to be special, and he’s perfect for the system, and he has the perfect attitude, and on the team’s draft board, he was supposed to be taken much, much, earlier, like a week ago Tuesday. Somehow, things still go wrong. Draft bliss has a limited freshness date.
  7. https://theathletic.com/1762718/2020/04/21/schultz-falcons-need-to-reverse-past-flubs-if-they-go-defensive-line-in-draft/ Before understanding where the mindset is of the Falcons’ primary decision-makers during this draft, it’s important to understand their agenda in recent weeks. They continued to restructure and front-load contracts, setting up a likely doomsday scenario in the salary cap down the road, all with the objective of clearing space for this crucial offseason. They committed significant money to a pass rusher (Dante Fowler) who was coming off one good season and i
  8. https://theathletic.com/1715315/2020/03/31/schultz-rich-mckay-on-falcons-draft-prep-optics-roger-goodells-memo-threat/ The NFL, with the benefit of its regular season still more than five months away, is determined to stick to its calendar during these spring and summer months. The positive aspect of this: The league has dominated the news cycle, providing content for starving sports fans. The negative: A case can be made that it’s creating some poor optics, even looking tone-deaf, as it takes a business-as-usual approach against the backdrop of a deadly spreading virus. Falco
  9. https://theathletic.com/1690145/2020/03/20/schultz-buzz-aside-todd-gurleys-knee-very-bad-falcons-cant-assume-much/ The Falcons made a great move in at least one area Friday: marketing. Five years after seemingly every fan wanted them to draft Todd Gurley, they’re bringing whatever remains of the former Georgia running back home to the cheers of everyone who barks on Saturdays and views every former Bulldogs player as an impenetrable force. So it’s a win for sales. It’s a win for social media and advertising and buzz for a franchise that has backslid since the Super Bowl i
  10. https://theathletic.com/1678965/2020/03/16/schultz-bad-contract-decisions-after-super-bowl-led-to-falcons-roster-slash/?source=shared-article The Falcons, who for weeks have denied they were in salary cap ****, donned their fire-retardant suits Monday and prepared to take a blow torch to their roster. Welcome to reality. Cornerback Desmond Trufant and running back Devonta Freeman, who never lived up to big contract extensions and for months were considered the most likely veterans to be slashed from the roster, will be released this week, according to reports by the NFL N
  11. https://theathletic.com/1539835/2020/01/16/schultz-biggest-differences-between-falcons-and-playoff-teams-should-be-obvious/ The Falcons announced this week that they soon will unveil new uniforms, a merchandising decision that will have zero impact in any areas that actually count if one can’t see the new jerseys because they’re somewhere under a pile of opposing players. Which leads me to this week. Atlanta was not one of the 12 teams that made the NFL playoffs, and it follows that it isn’t one of the four playing in the two conference championship games this week. Non-playof
  12. https://theathletic.com/1497644/2019/12/30/schultz-falcons-improvement-depends-more-on-dan-quinn-than-roster-changes/ Dan Quinn, a defensive coach by trade, produced miserable results as the Falcons’ defensive coordinator in the first half of this season and by association, a big enough failure as a head coach that the team’s playoff hopes were reduced to ash before the end of October. We can forever debate why a 1-7 team with a defense being stomped for 31 points per game seemingly played the second half of the season as if under the threat of direct deposit being stopped. Bu
  13. Arthur Blank is an emotional guy. One doesn’t create a new enterprise, redefine the retail industry and become a self-made billionaire without being difficult, even cold, at times. Decisions are made based on results, not friendships. The business world is filled with people who had great ideas but didn’t have the fortitude to make hard decisions, relationships be damned, and the NFL works the same way. Blank is still emotional. But now he clings to hope. What he did Friday effectively was to stall for a year. Put aside the spin and “data” disseminated by the organization meant to douse t
  14. https://theathletic.com/1481434/2019/12/22/schultz-breaking-down-arthur-blanks-options-on-dan-quinn-thomas-dimitroff/ The roof was closed for the Falcons’ final home game of the season Sunday, given the rain and 40-degree temperatures outside. But the lure of climate-controlled coziness did little to add to the attraction. Tickets could be had for the cost of a couple of UnHappy Meals. At least one-third of the seats inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium remained empty. NFL philosophy: If a team goes 6-2 in the second half of the season but nobody was watching, does it make a sound with the o
  15. https://theathletic.com/1462936/2019/12/15/schultz-after-another-upset-win-its-worth-wondering-if-dan-quinn-has-saved-his-job/ SANTA CLARA, Calif. — When the Falcons stumbled and bumbled and dragged themselves through the first half of the season with a 1-7 record, head coach Dan Quinn’s firing appeared imminent. New Orleans waited for them on the other side of bye, and Quinn was close enough to his personal finish line that there was a debate in the executive suite about the best timing for his official exit. It’s futile to guess about the future now. When the Falcons rallied from a
  16. https://theathletic.com/1432153/2019/12/04/schultz-roddy-white-on-falcons-trauma-coaching-kids-and-going-into-ring-of-honor/ Sharod Lamor “Roddy” White relatively “flew under the radar” in his young football life, growing up in James Island, S.C., and later playing at Alabama-Birmingham. It was all fun and no pressure. It wasn’t until he was drafted into the NFL by the Falcons in 2005 that he first felt the weight of expectations. “The first time I felt pressure was when I was walking onto the field for OTAs with Mike (Vick), and it seemed like there were 1,000 people there, a
  17. https://theathletic.com/1389660/2019/11/18/schultz-if-dan-quinns-return-doesnt-hinge-on-playoffs-how-low-should-falcons-set-the-bar/?source=shared-article If Dan Quinn’s future hinges on making the playoffs, there’s really no decision to make. The Falcons dug themselves a crater with a 1-7 start. Their postseason chances, listed at less than one percent by analytics sites two weeks ago, remain at less than one percent after consecutive wins over New Orleans and Carolina. Biblical plagues have yet to intervene. So if this isn’t about whether Quinn will coach a playoff game this
  18. https://theathletic.com/1366474/2019/11/10/schultz-grady-jarrett-fittingly-at-center-of-falcons-unexpected-uprising/ NEW ORLEANS — This is what it looks like in the alternate universe. “A good view,” Ricardo Allen said. “I saw Drew (Brees) going through his reads, and he couldn’t make it to his last couple of guys.” This is what it sounds like in an alternate universe. “Who Dat!” De’Vondre Campbell shouted as he ran into the locker room. “Aaaaaaaaaaggghhhh!” Jamon Brown uttered in a primal scream. “Yessir! Shut the f*** up! Shut the f*** up! Shut the f*** up!” Dam
  19. https://theathletic.com/1357213/2019/11/06/schultz-matt-ryan-frustrated-as-he-tries-to-lead-falcons-in-lost-season/ Less than three years removed from going to the Super Bowl and being honored as the NFL’s most valuable player, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has had his physical and mental resilience tested this season. The Falcons are 1-7 as they come off the bye week. They’re near two-touchdown underdogs against their longtime rival, the New Orleans Saints, who would love nothing more than to extend the misery. Ryan has thrown for 300-plus yards in six of his seven starts, but he is
  20. https://theathletic.com/1308930/2019/10/20/schultz-dan-quinn-has-failed-and-his-firing-from-falcons-appears-inevitable/ It’s over. Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, a good man but an increasingly ineffective coach, logically is going to be out of a job soon. The firing won’t happen Monday, assuming Falcons owner Arthur Blank wasn’t just running a misdirection play when I asked him after the season’s most recent dumpster fire Sunday. It’s more likely to happen during the bye week following next week’s scheduled loss to Seattle, or whenever Blank finally pushes himself to emotionall
  21. https://theathletic.com/1235336/2019/09/23/schultz-whether-its-the-messaging-or-the-players-dan-quinn-has-a-problem/ Dan Quinn is a really good guy. He is beloved by his players and everybody he comes in contact with at the Falcons’ headquarters. He helped build a roster that he then coached to a Super Bowl in 2016 in only his second season as an NFL head coach. But Dan Quinn has a problem. Whatever he is doing, coaching or saying isn’t working. The Falcons have a talented enough roster to be 3-0 or at least 2-1. Instead, they’re 1-2 and could be 0-3. These perceived tale
  22. https://theathletic.com/1214218/2019/09/16/schultz-even-after-falcons-late-escape-matt-ryan-knows-he-has-to-be-better/ The Falcons crept to the edge of 0-2 and potential early season doom before something unexpected happened late Sunday night. They won. They rallied to win a game over their recent tormentors from red-zone ****, Philadelphia. They managed to win on a night when their $30 million starting quarterback threw three interceptions in a span of four possessions, making everybody wonder, “What the **** happened to Matt Ryan?” “Turning the football over three the times,
  23. https://theathletic.com/1182994/2019/09/03/schultz-arthur-blank-on-his-teams-divorce-beating-cancer-twice-donald-trump-and-julio-jones/ These are interesting times for Arthur Blank. His NFL team — the Falcons, who are coming off a non-playoff season — begins a new year Sunday in Minnesota. His MLS club, Atlanta United, won the league championship in only its second season and is starting to get its footing after a few bumps under new coach Frank de Boer. In his personal life, Blank went through a divorce from his third wife, Angela, and recently overcame a recurrence of prosta
  24. https://theathletic.com/1142708/2019/08/16/schultz-vic-beasley-on-expectations-disappointment-and-those-who-question-his-desire/ This was another one of those NFL-sanctioned scrimmages. The players who really matter don’t play, or don’t play much, and just want to get out without so much as a hangnail. The Falcons’ first home exhibition against the New York Jets on Thursday night aroused so little interest in Atlanta that one could buy a ticket on StubHub for $7.86 an hour before kickoff, or you could just stand outside and wait for someone to hand you 10 or 12 for free. But it wasn’
  25. https://theathletic.com/1092372/2019/07/23/schultz-matt-ryan-knows-falcons-season-not-just-about-injuries-its-about-response/ Once you get past debates about the offensive line, the seeming disconnect between Vic Beasley’s skill set and pulse rate and Dan Quinn’s borderline tone-deaf decision to bring an excommunicated former college coach (D.J. Durkin) to training camp, the story about the 2019 Falcons more than likely will hinge on two things: (1) injuries; (2) their ability to avoid turning to mush again when they hit. It was ugly last season. Injuries plowed the middle of
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