Jump to content

Falcons Credit New Head Coach Dan Quinn For New Energy, Effort And Brotherhood


Recommended Posts


Falcons Credit New Head Coach Dan Quinn For New Energy, Effort and Brotherhood

“It’s an energy thing.”

Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman laid out the secret to the team’s success in Week 1 after their defeat of the Philadelphia Eagles. It was a home victory, yes. It was also a close victory—only 26-24—but it was a surprising victory for a team that has drafted in the Top 10 the past two seasons.

From the first snap of the game, the Falcons defense set the tone. On Twitter, I noted that linebacker Justin Durant seemed to be absolutely everywhere the Eagles wanted to be. The pace was fast because of the Eagles’ offense, but the Falcons not only kept the pace, but added a physicality to the game that Philadelphia was clearly not ready for.

“Coach [Dan] Quinn said that’s all we’re going to be about,” Freeman said, “run, hit, play fast.”

“We practice like we play—all out,” linebacker Paul Worrilow said, “everybody getting to the ball.”

There were themes throughout the locker room after the game—a locker room with as much of a palpable buzz as I’ve experienced in some time. From player to player, no matter what was asked of them, different buzzwords and mantras came pouring out.

The overarching message, though, was this might be a similar group of guys to the Falcons of seasons past, but this is a new team with a new coach that is creating something special.

“It’s a brand-new team,” cornerback Robert Alford said. “Coach Quinn and the staff he’s put together to help us compete help us by going out every day at practice and have us competing against each other. The ones against the ones—everybody getting better. I think that’s really helped us out a lot.”

When Quinn came over from his previous position as the defensive coordinator in Seattle, change was certainly expected. Former head coach Mike Smith had lost this team from a message perspective and had lost a lot of credibility with fans, the media and his players from a game management perspective. In all, while there were certainly problems with the makeup of the roster, this was a team underperforming in a big way.

Quinn has set out to change all that, and the players can’t help but respond.

“I love Coach Quinn,” Alford said. “I think every player would love Coach Quinn if they had him.”

“It’s definitely Coach Quinn,” cornerback Desmond Trufant said. “Everything he does is about energy, working hard and playing fast.”

“It’s commitment, and obviously Coach Quinn,” rookie defensive end Vic Beasley said. “He’s got a great scheme and he gets everyone around him motivated.”

“It’s nothing different than what he’s preached from Day 1,” Worrilow added about Quinn, “that it’s about effort, intensity and doing it for each other.”

Quinn wasn’t standing around for this effusive praise of his good qualities, but one can assume he knows this is how his players feel about him, because it’s clear that’s how he feels about them, as well. He’s a players’ coach in the truest sense—no ulterior motives, no silly coach speak, no gimmicks and no arrogance.

He doesn’t command respect so much as he fosters it to and among his players first, understanding that what he gives to them, they’ll give back to him tenfold.

“Honesty,” Freeman said about what he loves most about Quinn, “telling the truth and giving it to you raw. He’s not going to give us nothin’. We don’t get no handouts. We have to work, compete and play hard to define our role on this team. Trust and honesty take you a long way. You become more than just a coach. You say, ‘that’s my friend.”

Alford talked about Quinn getting out there in practices with the players—jumping in and running the defense like he was still back at Division-III Salisbury State University. Quinn will also jump onto the kickoff team as one of the gunners. Yes, while other coaches simply call for volunteers, Quinn is willing to practice what he preaches and if one of those defensive backs wants his spot on the scout team, they can outwork him to get it.

“He’s always upbeat,” linebacker Justin Durant said. “The energy that he has is crazy, and everybody feeds off of it.”

Energy can also be a bit of a tricky thing. While the Falcons offense came out guns-a-blazing in the first quarter, it took quarterback Matt Ryan and the offense a little while to get warmed up. Things just weren’t clicking. Freeman attributed that to maybe even coming out with almost too much energy for the Week 1 Monday Night Football matchup. He said he actually had to get calmed down by one of the referees because he (an undersized running back) was hitting the defenders too hard for the officials liking.

Momentum is a silly narrative that often gets tossed around sports like it’s a thing. It isn’t, actually, and what announcers or fans usually point to as momentum can often get more-properly identified as a team making mistakes in terms of either effort or assignment and the other team taking advantage.

That happened to the Falcons in the third quarter against the Eagles. After losing 20-3 at the half, the Eagles adjusted and surged ahead to take the lead. It was, in short, everything head coach Chip Kelly wants his team to be and it was really a microcosm of the Falcons’ biggest test this season—can they not only get that energy in the first place, but sustain it for a full game even when things aren’t going their way.

For that, they need what they call brotherhood: the ability to trust in themselves, each other and what they’ve all put in together.

“The team has really come close together right now,” Trufant said. “We believe in each other and we believe in the system—you can see that on the field.”

After the third quarter, the defenders explained, the defense gathered on the sidelines. The leaders of the team didn’t complain, didn’t make excuses, didn’t place blame or demand everyone do better. They simply reminded one another of all of the smaller hills they’ve climbed to get to this place—OTA’s, training camp, conditioning, etc.

None of this is any more grueling or tougher than that, and if they got through that together, why shouldn’t they get through this?

“The bond is strong,” Worrilow said. “This is just our first real game playing together, but you can sense it. The word ‘brotherhood’ gets thrown around a lot and you hear that kind of stuff, but I think this team is truly growing something special.”

“All the teams I’ve been on and won championships on had a brotherhood outside of football,” Freeman said. “That took them to the next level.”

Every player I talked to agreed the brotherhood around this team has dramatically increased over the past few months. A skeptic could say it’s only Week 1 and it was only after a big win. Buzzwords like “brotherhood” can mean something in that context and quickly go by the wayside after a few losses or a couple of tough weeks in the middle of the season.

Still, the stories I heard were like old acquaintances becoming fast friends. Teammates, who’d known each other for years, suddenly realizing how much they had in common because of the fraternal atmosphere Quinn and his staff have put into place within the Falcons organization.

This isn’t just players hanging out or going for team meals, this is player’s children having new honorary “uncles” and the size of family barbecues doubling because the trip to the locker room used to be trudging to work and now it’s getting together with your brothers and having some fun. Durant called this kind of “brotherhood” more organic or more natural than he’s experienced in the past.

That mindset fosters a new kind of swagger grounded not in overconfidence or cockiness but in trust.

“We believe in ourselves,” Trufant said. “We know we can do big things. We can’t wait, because each week we feel we can win.”

“We’re very confident in the coaches and what they’ve put us through,” Worrlow added. “It’s on us just to go showcase it.”

“Us…” Freeman said. “U’…’S’…It’s us. The energy is all of us. He brought it, but now it’s all of us.”

This isn’t a team that overspent in summer’s free agency or stockpiled a ton of draft picks this past spring. The change in this Falcons team is evident, but it’s also as internal as any potential rebounding team we’ve seen in recent years. There’s no one player addition, breakout or injury recovery that tells the full tale of why both the offense (especially the line) and the defense are playing better.

It’s just more of that energy, effort and brotherhood that was apparently so lacking in the past.

“Everything is the same from the top to the bottom” Durant said when asked what he appreciated about the Falcons. “Everybody has the same mindset. Everyone is on the same page.”

With that kind of mindset, together, the Falcons clearly have the potential to do great things this season, and they’re more than willing to say they owe it all to Coach Quinn.

this is a good article

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great article. We've already seen a huge change in the demeanor of our defense and the way they play. There will still probably be a few growing pains and bumps in the road but we know that nobody is going to lay down for anyone now. As much as the players can't wait to play that next game, I know right now, I cannot wait to see that next game! This is going to be a fun to watch team now and I can see us accomplishing some really big things over the next couple of seasons.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Change in coaches, message and culture is bigger than any talent we brought in. A lot of us have been saying it, but everybody is finally seeing it. Quinn was the perfect hire. No, we haven't even seen full results of one season, but we all know it's a matter of time before we're perennial playoff contenders. And not just participants. I'm talking about "you don't want to see these Falcons" contenders.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

“I love Coach Quinn,” Alford said. “I think every player would love Coach Quinn if they had him.”

“It’s definitely Coach Quinn,” cornerback Desmond Trufant said. “Everything he does is about energy, working hard and playing fast.”

“It’s commitment, and obviously Coach Quinn,” rookie defensive end Vic Beasley said. “He’s got a great scheme and he gets everyone around him motivated.”

“It’s nothing different than what he’s preached from Day 1,” Worrilow added about Quinn, “that it’s about effort, intensity and doing it for each other.”

Dam good read. Now we see why Blank waited to the very end to hire his guy. These players have completely bought in. Complete culture change.

Edited by FentayeJones
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest facelessman07

Man... loved reading that. We should've skipped the crowd noise last year and piped in some coach Quinn noise.

Nah, had we not cheated last year and pumped in the noise we might've won a few extra games and hence made the playoffs

Smitty might've been kept and we lose out on Beasley

Two risks I wouldn't be willing to take lol

Proud 2014 tanker

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Agree. Already making an impact for us. We need both these guys for longer than just this year.

what i think is telling about Quinn is how many players were/are willing to play on 'prove it' deals for a year!! i would hardly think they got the best deals out there when they signed??! but for sure Scho signed because of Quinn...and gotta feel the same way about Clayborn since he was high on Quinn's list (Raheem being on staff i'm sure was a big plus too)!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dam. Those boys are fired up! And if you think about it, playing out your lifelong dream in the NFL *should* be like that.

You don't have to manufacture this culture out of thin air. You just have to remove what's oppressing it so it can be turned loose.

Keep doing it, Quinn! This is what football is all about, and why it is more than just a child's game -- when done right it is a work of art.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...