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Coaching or personnel? Either way, Dan Quinn’s defense continues to flounder


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I've posted the entire article, but give Allen some clicks if you don't mind.

 

https://www.thefalcoholic.com/2019/10/2/20894592/dan-quinn-defense-floundering-grady-jarrett-tyeler-davison-deion-jones-titans-colts

 

The Falcons’ defense was supposed to rebound this season. They have instead looked disorganized, unprepared, and undisciplined to start the season.

 

It was supposed to be a revival season for the Falcons. With star players returning on both sides of the ball, they were expected to reestablish themselves as a contender. The hiring of Dirk Koetter wasn’t received with great applause. Based on the talent level of the skill players and major investment put into the offensive line, many expected the offense to be good enough regardless of Koetter’s flaws. That clearly hasn’t transpired, as the offense has been held under 14 points in two of the first four games of the season. While Koetter has plenty of work to do, the pieces are there to rebound and be more productive. That can’t be said about the defense.

It’s been an extremely disappointing start of the season to what was supposed to be a resurgent defense. Deion Jones and Ricardo Allen have played at a high level after missing most of last season. Along with Grady Jarrett, they have performed the best on an otherwise underwhelming unit. Young players aren’t taking the necessary steps needed in expanded roles. Other players, who entered this season with significant pressure on them, haven’t elevated their game. The coaching staff warrants criticism as well for the defense’s lack of discipline and organization. To start off so profoundly badly in three out of four games raises major questions about Quinn. Where has it gone all wrong?

Inexcusable slow starts

The Falcons have allowed 71 points in the first half this season. That includes a whopping 44 points in their previous two games. After getting torn apart by Dalvin Cook on opening weekend, the Falcons have shown noticeable improvement stopping the run. Allen Bailey and Tyeler Davison have been excellent signings in terms of adding strength and discipline to the defensive line. The defense’s woes against the run have converted into a combination of being positionally disorganized and undisciplined. There are players who aren’t doing enough or making critical errors in key moments on a weekly basis. Quinn will ultimately take the most responsibility for their baffling slow starts.

Not adjusting to Frank Reich’s ball-control, conservative game plan put the defense in precarious positions. When Quinn decided to get creative with blitzes, Jacoby Brissett would find an opening underneath that would go for a first down. Allowing an offense still transitioning to life without their franchise quarterback to pick apart your defense with quick passes underneath is a schematic issue. Quinn’s defense is primarily based around playing Cover 3. It’s understandable why he wouldn’t completely divert from his coaching philosophy. Not being more adaptable is where the problem lies, particularly against well-coached teams such as Indianapolis.

Playing more man coverage shouldn’t be viewed as an obvious solution. On two of Marcus Mariota’s three touchdown passes, Desmond Trufant and Isaiah Oliver were both playing man on the outside. They failed to make plays that should have been prevented. Trufant’s poor positioning and inability to change direction played a major part in A.J. Brown’s first touchdown.

This is where players must be held accountable for these particular slow starts. Quinn can’t do much when Deion Jones fails to bring down Corey Davis on third and 15. For a defense known for their speed and athleticism, it’s bizarre to see a unit start games so lackadaisically. Stronger starts will not only create more turnover opportunities, but also help give the offense better field position to work with.

Lack of progression across the board

There are players underperforming on all three levels of Quinn’s defense. Given their first-round pedigrees, Vic Beasley and Takkarist McKinley will be at the top of any list when assessing the defense’s struggles. They have combined for two of the team’s five sacks. After taking a hands-on approach to work the embattled edge rusher, Quinn has opted to use Beasley in other ways. He has used him as a stand-up linebacker, dropped him into coverage on blitzes, and off the edge in 3-4 or 5-2 setups.

There doesn’t seem to be much of a plan with Beasley. When he is coming off the edge as a pass rusher, there isn’t anything substantially different about his game. The same can be said about McKinley, who outside of his terrific performance against Philadelphia has been mostly anonymous. Neither pass rusher has shown much refinement in their overall technique to make a legitimate difference.

In what was supposed to be one of the stronger positional groups on the team, the linebacker unit has been culpable for many of the defense’s issues. Jones remains as one of the best inside linebackers in the league. Outside of a few missed tackles, there aren’t any critiques you can make against him. The rest of the group has been disastrous.

De’Vondre Campbell played better against Tennessee, but it won’t overshadow his woeful showings in the first three games. From not getting off blocks in the running game to being consistently late on coverage assignments, Campbell is becoming more of a liability than asset. His terrific 2017 season seems like a distant memory at this point. Foye Oluokun has looked lost in limited reps this season as well. After showing plenty of promise last season, Oluokun appeared to be on the right track. He is currently losing reps to Beasley when Quinn decides to use a more traditional 4-3 base defense.

What wasn’t being discussed enough about the Falcons going into the season was their untested cornerback group. The front office’s decision to release Robert Alford and not re-sign Brian Poole was completely understandable. To not bring in a veteran for competition and depth purposes was surprising. Oliver has looked overwhelmed as a starter so far. While the second-year cornerback is showing signs of improvement, his lapses in coverage are costing the defense in critical moments. It also doesn’t help that Damontae Kazee doesn’t look comfortable enough to press wide receivers in the slot. The Falcons are allowing over 73 percent of passes to be completed on third down per Ben Fennell. Both corners are a major reason behind the high completion percentage.

Quinn’s coaching methods

Since taking full control of the defense, Quinn has added a few wrinkles to the defense. Applying more 3-4 and 5-2 looks up front has benefited the defense against the run. The trio of Jarrett, Bailey, and Davison have given opposing offensive line fits. The different schematic fronts do have its drawbacks. It puts the edge defenders further away from the opposing tackles. There are also times where they have to stand up rather than get in their three-point stance, which isn’t ideal for players like McKinley and Adrian Clayborn. For all the criticism of the edge rushers, they aren’t always being placed in the best positions to generate pressure.

Quinn has never been known for being overly creative. His preference of relying on a four man rush instead of calling exotic blitzes is well-documented. When Quinn decides to blitz, it doesn’t cause enough havoc to force stops or turnovers. The Falcons are allowing slightly more than half of third downs to be converted, which is fourth worst in the league. They have only forced three turnovers, which all came against the Eagles. There has been some unfortunate turnover luck with Campbell and Clayborn forcing fumbles against Tennessee, yet not managing to recover any of them. Besides that, there haven’t been many moments where opposing quarterbacks nearly threw an interception or were strip sacked. Opposing quarterbacks remain far too comfortable in the pocket against Quinn’s defense.

The lack of intensity during games raises questions about Quinn’s message. Are players starting to faze him out? Despite being known for bringing positive energy and being a players’ coach, Quinn knows it doesn’t mean much when his team is losing. The Falcons’ front office saw it firsthand with Mike Smith in 2013-2014. Years of success begin to lose value when opposing teams are overwhelming and out-scheming you. Jarrett was asked about Quinn’s message getting to the team. While the stud defensive tackle remained fully behind his coach, his response does make you wonder about other players in the locker room.

Quinn has built a solid, well-disciplined group off the field where locker room friction doesn’t occur (at least not publicly). That group hasn’t shown up on the field often this season. Between getting his defense aligned better pre-snap to utilizing certain talent more effectively, Quinn must improve on getting the best out of a defense, albeit with noticeable flaws, featuring established stars and promising talent.

 

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6 minutes ago, ballfan said:

They seem to be coached to be passive. Hard to watch. 

This defense is supposed to be fast and physical, but if they can't get off the field by making stops, that goes out the window and they get winded.

Dan doesn't have the personnel and he hand picked a lot of these guys. It's the coaching and the coaching is bad.

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When the defense has this many issues it's usually a combination of coaching and players.

What's really confusing is the regression by so many young players.

I think there is also an issue with the scheme.  Clearly it's not working.  Whether that's because of Quinn being out-schemed or the players not paying attention to the details remains to be seen.  However when it comes to details don't you rely on coaching to correct it?

Maybe the personnel is better suited to a Tampa 2?  They certainly have the MLB for it.

Either way something has to be done on the defense.  Sure the offense has its issues.  When you replace 3 out of 5 starters and the plan was for 2 of them to be rookies there are going to be struggles.  Then when you have continual flux at the RG spot, (next to a rookie), there's going to be even more issues.

But the defense was supposed to the mitigating factor.  Instead you could argue the defense has been the bigger disaster.  Are they playing worse than last year when everyone was injured?

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I never thought the defense would look this terrible. It is the worst defense I have ever seen for the Falcons and that's not an exaggeration. I have no idea what the heck Dan Quinn is doing, but his complete lack of common sense in some areas is ridiculous. They say good offensive coaches fit the scheme around their players, but this year has taught me it must be true on defense as well. Quinn continues to try to fit around blocks into square pegs and it's painful to watch. Beasley is good(ish) at only one thing, and we put him in a position to do anything but that one thing. Ridiculous

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15 minutes ago, Dr Long Shot said:

I never thought the defense would look this terrible. It is the worst defense I have ever seen for the Falcons and that's not an exaggeration. I have no idea what the heck Dan Quinn is doing, but his complete lack of common sense in some areas is ridiculous. They say good offensive coaches fit the scheme around their players, but this year has taught me it must be true on defense as well. Quinn continues to try to fit around blocks into square pegs and it's painful to watch. Beasley is good(ish) at only one thing, and we put him in a position to do anything but that one thing. Ridiculous

Nope.

Still the patented BVG No Pressure 3-3-5 defense from the Green Bay Massacre in 2010.  But that was a single game.

As far as over a season this one is up there.

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This progression is all too familiar and so stomach turning. Unless there is some type of miracle this week, the downward spiral will continue. 

How did this franchise somehow go from somewhat consistent winning and playoff appearances to a team no one cares about? 

I swear I think this team is emotionally traumatized sometimes. Seems like when things get tough they retreat. I dont have solutions; but I certainly see some problems. 

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I will never understand why we don’t sign veteran corners who can be had at a discount. Guys who are not world beaters but give you consistency. There are always retreads to be found at db but we always go with the young guys. We have no insurance policy behind Oliver besides starting rookies.

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Are me and this guy the same person? Literally every single defensive critique is something

 

3 hours ago, Goober Pyle said:

When Quinn decided to get creative with blitzes, Jacoby Brissett would find an opening underneath that would go for a first down. Allowing an offense still transitioning to life without their franchise quarterback to pick apart your defense with quick passes underneath is a schematic issue. Quinn’s defense is primarily based around playing Cover 3. It’s understandable why he wouldn’t completely divert from his coaching philosophy. Not being more adaptable is where the problem lies, particularly against well-coached teams such as Indianapolis.

Playing more man coverage shouldn’t be viewed as an obvious solution. On two of Marcus Mariota’s three touchdown passes, Desmond Trufant and Isaiah Oliver were both playing man on the outside. They failed to make plays that should have been prevented. T

Quinn has never been known for being overly creative. His preference of relying on a four man rush instead of calling exotic blitzes is well-documented. When Quinn decides to blitz, it doesn’t cause enough havoc to force stops or turnovers.

3 hours ago, Goober Pyle said:

Applying more 3-4 and 5-2 looks up front has benefited the defense against the run. The trio of Jarrett, Bailey, and Davison have given opposing offensive line fits. The different schematic fronts do have its drawbacks. It puts the edge defenders further away from the opposing tackles. There are also times where they have to stand up rather than get in their three-point stance, which isn’t ideal for players like McKinley and Adrian Clayborn. For all the criticism of the edge rushers, they aren’t always being placed in the best positions to generate pressure.

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16 minutes ago, athell said:

Defensive DVOA Rankings under Dan Quinn : 

2019 - 16th

2018 - 31st

2017 - 22nd

2016 - 26th

2015 - 22nd

I suspect by the end of the year that 16 turns into that 22-26 range yet again.  Not gonna cut it.

Not sure how you can mention that but not how our offense is 21st by DVOA. That's atrocious with all the money on that side of the ball. I think Dan Quinn isn't the main problem. But he isn't the solution yet either...

That said, seeing some waves about Zimmer being on the hot seat. If Quinn has to go, Bieniemy or Carmichael as HC with Zimmer at DC is (on paper) a pairing with serious potential.

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1 hour ago, Dr Long Shot said:

I never thought the defense would look this terrible. It is the worst defense I have ever seen for the Falcons and that's not an exaggeration. I have no idea what the heck Dan Quinn is doing, but his complete lack of common sense in some areas is ridiculous. They say good offensive coaches fit the scheme around their players, but this year has taught me it must be true on defense as well. Quinn continues to try to fit around blocks into square pegs and it's painful to watch. Beasley is good(ish) at only one thing, and we put him in a position to do anything but that one thing. Ridiculous

It's not the Falcons responsibility to take Vic to the ATM to take out some of his $13 million.

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58 minutes ago, Jpg428gggg said:

I will never understand why we don’t sign veteran corners who can be had at a discount. Guys who are not world beaters but give you consistency. There are always retreads to be found at db but we always go with the young guys. We have no insurance policy behind Oliver besides starting rookies.

 CBs are not dime a dozen. We aren't the only team with dreadful pass defense,  in case you haven't noticed most teams struggle to stop the pass consistently, and quite a few can't stop the pass at all. 

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19 minutes ago, Francis York Morgan said:

Not sure how you can mention that but not how our offense is 21st by DVOA. That's atrocious with all the money on that side of the ball. I think Dan Quinn isn't the main problem. But he isn't the solution yet either...

That said, seeing some waves about Zimmer being on the hot seat. If Quinn has to go, Bieniemy or Carmichael as HC with Zimmer at DC is (on paper) a pairing with serious potential.

Mostly because DQ was brought here to "fix" our defense.  I am not giving this offense a pass by any means, but if DQ is not going to deliver this vaunted defense he has been promising for years...what is his purpose in even being here?

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5 hours ago, Dr Long Shot said:

 CBs are not dime a dozen. We aren't the only team with dreadful pass defense,  in case you haven't noticed most teams struggle to stop the pass consistently, and quite a few can't stop the pass at all. 

The elite ones are not but guys at the end of their career are always available. You could sign Sam Shields, Orlando Scandrick or Brent Grimes right now. None are world beaters but could at least bring some veteran presence and consistency. We have so much youth in our secondary right now that you sometimes need that older consistent player to bring things together. 
 

Our super bowl team had Chester and Freeney. Neither were world beaters but we underestimated their impact on the other players. Everyone was ready to replace Chester and everyone wanted him back after seeing how much Schraeder fell off.

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7 hours ago, Sun Tzu 7 said:

Nope.

Still the patented BVG No Pressure 3-3-5 defense from the Green Bay Massacre in 2010.  But that was a single game.

As far as over a season this one is up there.

The most frustrating part about that game is that Rodgers should have been sacked at least 6-7 times.  It seemed like someone would get there and they would either fail to wrap up and bounce off of him, or Rodgers would escape and make some play downfield.

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DQ is a good coach but lacks the ability to adapt on the fly & scheme well enough to keep up with gifted. seasoned coaches whose football minds transcend positional coaching.  DQ’s best assets/gifts are best suited at a positional level.  I’d love to keep him as our Dline coach or more, but hire more of a brilliant football mind to take this program to another level.  My hope is that AB will ID this coach & parlay the $ he’s making from Atlanta United & Mbenz to bring in a BB or a Sean Payton or an Andy Reid type.

It’s unfortunate but there continues to be rough gaps in DQ’s game. He speaks about featuring players to suit their strengths but I’m beginning to wonder if that was just jargon he heard from one of his protégés like Pete Carroll?

We so desperately needed a coach whose talent would serve to cover our own weaknesses, check-mate our oppositions strengths & simply be that secret weapon every team counts on to give them that edge on Sunday.  It’s so sad to see MR & JJ & others on our defense not have that advantage. 

Look around the league.  That coaching edge is a distinct, tangible weapon that propels existing talent to that next level. We deserve it in Atlanta GA.  I’ll give it more time but the frustration levels are high while the tolerance levels are as low as we’ve seen them coming off of a SB coaching tragedy.

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