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Whether it’s the messaging or the players, Dan Quinn has a problem


Goober Pyle
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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 talented players are doing dumb and undisciplined things, like committing penalties (a league-high 35 for 274 yards, exceeding the average distance of three scoring drives), blowing basic coverages, failing in basic run defenses and committing turnovers (seven, led by Matt Ryan’s six interceptions).

Getting outscored 41-3 in the first half of two road games also suggests focus or hotel wake-up calls are lacking.

The 1-2 start isn’t about Keanu Neal’s horrible luck of having a second straight season wiped out by injury. It’s not about other injuries or a young offensive line still coming together or a mostly new staff of assistant coaches getting settled. It’s about Quinn. He’s the one who sets the tone and messaging. He’s the one who brought in most of the players and coaches, in concert with general manager Thomas Dimitroff. This defense, this team, they’re Quinn’s.

Safety Ricardo Allen, who is as smart and professional a player as there is in the NFL, acknowledged that being known as a “talented” team isn’t necessarily a good thing. There’s a danger of that creeping into one’s mindset.

“The best thing you can do as a player is be accountable for your actions,” he said. “We’re a 1-2 team. You’re not an overly talented team — you’re a 1-2 team. You have to be realistic with it. I don’t care how much talent you have. If you can’t find a way to win with it, you gotta shake something up.”

Asked if he was concerned about some players not being accountable, Allen paused briefly and said: “No. If this was in the middle of the season, and it keeps going, yes. As of now, no. I think players are really trying to do all they can and play as hard as they can.”

It’s fair to wonder whether Quinn’s style and messaging just aren’t working anymore, whether the whole “Brotherhood” thing needs to be drop-kicked in favor of something with more flames. The Falcons returned predominantly the same team following the Super Bowl, save offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, but suffered in 2017 from inconsistency, including home losses to Buffalo and Miami. They made the playoffs but lost in the second round to Philadelphia.

Last season was submarined by injuries. But there’s a case to be made that things fell apart beyond what they should have. The Falcons are 18-17 in the regular season since the Super Bowl. That doesn’t cut it.

Quinn is taking a lot of heat. After Sunday’s 27-24 loss in Indianapolis, when the Falcons dug themselves a 20-3 hole and committed a dizzying 16 penalties, the coach’s three-minute postgame news conference was live-streamed on Periscope.

Those watching Quinn’s conference had the ability to comment live, and they unleashed a number of verbal grenades. A selection follows:

“I want blank to fire you. … FIRE QUINN. … Trash defense. … Blah blah blah brotherhood blah blah blah. … Blame is on DQ shouldn’t allow penalties to get so high. … Clown. … Sorry but u gotta go. … You are an awful coach!!! … We don’t want to hear the excuses Dan. … Go back to Seattle. … Get your **** together dan. Every week it’s like this. I love my falcons but ******** man.”

So, yes. He has lost the benefit of the doubt in Atlanta.

Quinn doesn’t run from the criticism. He understands the anger and the questions about his messaging.

“The messaging is always important: You know you’re on it when the team lives it,” he said.

But this team is not living it. So does he feel the need to change it?

“I may say some things in a different way, but it’s still the same message,” he said.

Louder, more in your face?

“It would depend on who the person was,” he said. “Sometimes it has to be louder, in their face. But not every player reacts in the same way. Sometimes it needs to be in front of everybody and louder and stronger than some. Others, you may need to talk to them one-on-one.”

When asked again whether he feels the need to change who he has been in the past, Quinn said: “You have to look at it. I wouldn’t say change. But you have to make sure the people who need to get addressed have my attention, for sure.”

It’s an important subject because in any sport a coach’s messaging can get stale. That’s why even some with early success might have a limited shelf life.

Allen said: “I’m going to fight to the end with him. Until the clock hits zero, zero, zero.”

But Allen, Julio Jones and Grady Jarrett, three of the team’s acknowledged leaders, can speak only for themselves. The problems puzzle them as much as anybody. Allen also puts it more on the players than the coaches. He referenced a practice in the days leading up to the Indianapolis game when players were flat.

“Last week we had a time where we came out and we started off slow, and it took the coaches to say something,” he said. “It has to be the players.”

Allen believes the Falcons play better when they “think we’re the underdogs and nobody cared about us and we didn’t have people saying we were the high-flying (Falcons).”

So here’s the good news: Keep losing and they’ll be underdogs all the time. But Quinn said he isn’t going to change his core principles or be influenced by outside noise. He told a story about when the Falcons lost their 2016 season opener to Tampa Bay, which was then coached by Dirk Koetter, Atlanta’s former (and present) offensive coordinator.

“There were some columnists, maybe they’re sitting here, maybe they’re not, who were just, ‘Maybe (Koetter) should’ve been the coach here,’” Quinn said. “I remember hearing that, and it took me a day or two, and I’m thinking, ‘What the **** am I doing?’ And then we ended up going out to Oakland and winning. That was a lesson to myself: Stay true to the process. I’m not happy how we’ve started after three games at all. Some of the self-inflicted wounds we’ve had I know are correctable. We **** sure are planning on getting those fixed.”

But we’ve heard those words often. Maybe try fewer promises and more action.

 

 

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Well with that last paragraph it looks like Quinn is going to keep doing Quinn. Sounds like no change in his process. I say doing the same thing over and over and thinking you will have a different outcome at the end is just plain dumb. If its not working ya got to try something different. 

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11 minutes ago, high impact said:

Well with that last paragraph it looks like Quinn is going to keep doing Quinn. Sounds like no change in his process. I say doing the same thing over and over and thinking you will have a different outcome at the end is just plain dumb. If its not working ya got to try something different. 

Not sure how you got that out of it.  He's already said they are bringing in a ref crew among other things.  That's obviously "doing something different".  Coaches don't spell out every little thing they are going to do, just not reality.

Further, when the players (see Allen's comment) put it more on the players then you find out what the real problem is.  Too many players have bought into their own hype.  I think something people missed is when DQ said the punishment would be standing next to him is what that actually means.  I'm fairly certain it means, if a player continues to screw up they'll get pulled from the game...

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Comment I posted in that article:

Good one, Jeff.

Little game management things like not questioning 2 obvious bad spots giving first downs, not vociferously defending a severely injured player over throwing helmet, these have added up over time to really tick me off.

He stands stoically on the sidelines while the team and season appear to be circling the drain again this year.

The bigger picture, well-covered here, shows a staff that is not prepared at the start and not reacting and adjusting enough in game to fix issues such as that pass play that worked all game long and ended the game.

I also, a Falcons fan for over 45 years, am caring less and less and close to tuning the team out.

I already regret buying Sunday ticket to be able to see this crappy coaching and undisciplined play every week.

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With the exception of JJ, GJ, and a handful of others, I’m not seeing the effort. We have no swagger. I saw at least 4-5 plays where somebody gave up on their block, then their man made the tackle. One example was on a little tunnel screen type play and Ridley just shoved his guy then the guy made a TFL. 

We also have quite a few over rated players. Mathews, Freeman (even healthy) just to name 2. We need a bell cow back there. Not a burner that can break one 3 times a year. We need yard eaters. 

 

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I really think we are still okay. We played a good second half of offensive football but couldn't stop them defensively. I feel TD and DQ have to stop settling for mediocrity! Leave no stone unturned.  Larkin should have made this team. We need a BIG BACK sometimes. We have to replace Allen with a player not just a cheap rental. Graham needs to replace Stocker. Go back and get TBJ! I still say he has the talent to take one all rhe way, maybe that can electrify the team. If Hage is not  injured keep him on ice but on speed dial. His strength can push the pile. He can block a PAT and or FGA which may be the difference in winning the game. We can't do this with fancy slogans. 16 games NFL season is a long time and a lot of things can happen. TD and DQ have got to stop being so set in their ways. We have to change SOME of our MO.

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Quinn is in his fifth year. The average span of NFL coach is a little over three years.  There are reasons for that. 

You're a new coach. You come in, everyone is fired up to win.  Everyone is on the same page, you get close to the brass ring.  When you grab it, great.  When you can't, as in LI...things can begin to degrade.   You go from a winner to a loser.  18-17 since LI.  Mediocrity.  Some teams live with it, some don't.  The ones that don't accept it, make changes.  Regime change.  The stage might have been set here with the bad, sloppy start we've seen.     

But that is the way the job goes, it's as fundamental a part of the NFL as there is.  

And for the Falcons, unless some kind of catharsis hits the coaching staff and 53 players all at the same time...we all know how this will end.  

 

 

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1 hour ago, Goober Pyle said:

Allen believes the Falcons play better when they “think we’re the underdogs and nobody cared about us and we didn’t have people saying we were the high-flying (Falcons).”

That's why I made the 'show them the power rankings' thread.  Play the no respect card.

Don't let them be comfortable.  Use the motivation to keep the fire lit.

It wasn't and the results speak for themselves.

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36 minutes ago, capologist said:

All the coaches can do is demand proper techniques, it's up to the players to actually do it...

No. MS used to have refs in practice throw the flag and correct the mistakes in practice so they didn’t show up on the field. How about scouting on refs and tell players what to watch out. Each crew has their fav penalties and something they don’t call. It’s called coaching and preparation.

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1 hour ago, Goober Pyle said:

Allen also puts it more on the players than the coaches. He referenced a practice in the days leading up to the Indianapolis game when players were flat.

“Last week we had a time where we came out and we started off slow, and it took the coaches to say something,” he said. “It has to be the players.”

Allen believes the Falcons play better when they “think we’re the underdogs and nobody cared about us and we didn’t have people saying we were the high-flying (Falcons).”

This is what I've been saying. People are calling for DQ's head, but the players are the problem. Why do you need the media doubting you to play like you did versus Philly? But that's exactly what I've been saying. They clearly hear the talk of "this defense is loaded" and let it do the talking for them. They think they can just show up and the other team will respect them. Nobody else is listening to the media. 

DQ can say and do whatever he wants. But until the players take ownership, the coaching won't matter. 

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51 minutes ago, capologist said:

Not sure how you got that out of it.  He's already said they are bringing in a ref crew among other things.  That's obviously "doing something different".  Coaches don't spell out every little thing they are going to do, just not reality.

Further, when the players (see Allen's comment) put it more on the players then you find out what the real problem is.  Too many players have bought into their own hype.  I think something people missed is when DQ said the punishment would be standing next to him is what that actually means.  I'm fairly certain it means, if a player continues to screw up they'll get pulled from the game...

Mora had a similar problem.

He became too much of a player's coach.

Quinn better be careful he doesn't do the same.

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4 minutes ago, Sun Tzu 7 said:

That's why I made the 'show them the power rankings' thread.  Play the no respect card.

Don't let them be comfortable.  Use the motivation to keep the fire lit.

It wasn't and the results speak for themselves.

If they need to play that card for motivation, there is something fundamentally wrong with culture in that locker room. It goes back to the Hc. You don’t have winning teams going through those ups and downs. Win or lose do your job.

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Ever since the dreaded 28-3, this team has some kind of mental blocker. We usually scuffle around and inflict wounds on ourselves, even if we eventually come back and win the game.

You can allow for a "superbowl hangover" to last one year.

But dude, 3 years later it's ridiculous.

We need to come out meaning business, playing our best regardless of the competition, and dominating football games. That's nothing more than playing up to our potential as one of the more talented rosters in the league.

Why on Earth have we lost the ability to "play like our hair is on fire"? Will we ever get it back?

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Just now, falcons007 said:

If they need to play that card for motivation, there is something fundamentally wrong with culture in that locker room. It goes back to the Hc.

Clearly they need to do something.

Bellicheck used to use that card all the time in the Pats early days before they became the greatest dynasty in football.  Even now if the media gives them the slightest bit of disrespect he jumps on it and uses it.

Of course the Pats also play sound defensive football 99% of the time so there's also that...

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3 minutes ago, falcons007 said:

No. MS used to have refs in practice throw the flag and correct the mistakes in practice so they didn’t show up on the field. How about scouting on refs and tell players what to watch out. Each crew has their fav penalties and something they don’t call. It’s called coaching and preparation.

Well, if penalties had been an issue before, I could see this claim but that's just not factually true.  However, now that it is a problem, refs are being brought in so that those corrections can be made.  Not sure what more you want done...

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1 minute ago, DriveHomeSafelyAtlantaWins said:

Ever since the dreaded 28-3, this team has some kind of mental blocker. We usually scuffle around and inflict wounds on ourselves, even if we eventually come back and win the game.

You can allow for a "superbowl hangover" to last one year.

But dude, 3 years later it's ridiculous.

We need to come out meaning business, playing our best regardless of the competition, and dominating football games. That's nothing more than playing up to our potential as one of the more talented rosters in the league.

Why on Earth have we lost the ability to "play like our hair is on fire"? Will we ever get it back?

The Pats 'revenge' game should have shown us there was a huge problem.

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1 hour ago, Goober Pyle said:

There were some columnists, maybe they’re sitting here, maybe they’re not, who were just, ‘Maybe (Koetter) should’ve been the coach here,’” Quinn said. “I remember hearing that, and it took me a day or two, and I’m thinking, ‘What the **** am I doing?’ And then we ended up going out to Oakland and winning.

Lmao. Week 2 of 2016, I could definitely see these kinds of threads being on the board too. Really hope DQ has another FU year in him.

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5 minutes ago, Sun Tzu 7 said:

Mora had a similar problem.

He became too much of a player's coach.

Quinn better be careful he doesn't do the same.

Very true statement.  The team still believes the message or the second half of the Colts game would have looked very different.  The real issue that DQ has to solve is what's causing the slow starts and to get the same play level in the first half that he does in the second half.  He's got to get them to play a full game.

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