Dan Quinn A Win Against Saints Can Turn Things Around

Head Coach Atlanta Falcons Dan Quinn on the Saints

Opening statement:
“We got started again today. We came in Monday to get started for the week, but today, for us, our new season. Eight game schedule starts us with the format we like from all the preparation and everything that goes into it. I told everybody that if we have a chance to elevate in every space that we’re going to do, we’re going to try for – players, coaches, the whole thing. It’ll take a lot of energy and a lot of discipline to do that, but we’ve got plenty to work on. This Sunday, looking at how we want to play, and focus on that as much as we can. Let’s get it rocking, questions you guys want to start off with?”

 On Raheem Morris and areas of improvement on defense:
“The number one thing is going to be communication first. The technique and the communication. The scheme part will certainly feel similar. He’s been part of that, and certainly, he and I have talked a lot. I would say the number one role is going to be technique and communications.”

 On Matt Ryan:
“Matt will get some practice work today. He’ll be in a limited fashion, but we’re getting him back into the groove today. [Desmond] Trufant as well. It will be good to have both of those guys back in action and doing some form of participation today. We’ll ramp them up as the week goes, but it will be good to have them back in action today.”

 On Ito Smith:
“He’s still out.”

 On Arthur Blank’s opinion of Raheem Morris’ coaching move:
“He said it well, he said, ‘You’ve got a lot of smart people there. Utilize every resource that you have.’ Raheem and I have also been talking about that. We felt this was the best thing to do for the team. It doesn’t just affect them, there are other moving parts that to go into it. We wouldn’t have been able to do it have we not had who we have at receiver. Dave’s [Brock] experience at receiver, Bernie’s [Parmalee] experience at running back, to have that ability to put into those spaces, that was a big part of it too. Having his energy to bring over to the defensive side, we’re just a few days into it, but I thought players did a good job of adapting to that, and the coaches as well. It’s been a good start.”

 On whether or not the decision to move Raheem Morris was something he’d been considering for a while:
“He said, ‘I knew you were coming,’ so he knew it before I did. We spent a lot of time together. I thought, at this point, we hadn’t made the marks that we wanted to hit on, and I thought at this space, it’s all hands on deck to get it aligned like we’d like to. That’s why we did it.”

 On any additional personnel changes they’re looking into:
“There will be some. I don’t know if they’ll be subtle to you watching practice today or even into the game, but what it does when you have a big-picture view of things, you want to look into and tweak anything that you can. We’ve added players to the active roster with [Jacob] Tuioti-Mariner, with Brandon Powell. We’re looking and going to work at it like crazy in every space. I don’t know if they would be noticeable to you, but they’ll certainly be some ways of how we feature guys in every way that we can, in all three phases, and be aggressive and bold in the way that we play them.”

 On whether or not they considered moving Raheem Morris to defense over the last couple of years:
“No, I wouldn’t say there have been. I think he’s done well with the receivers. I didn’t feel, in that space, to do that. He’s always had good communication on the defensive side, certainly with me and with the other defensive coaches whether it was third down or two-minute, you may have even seen him at practice working with some of the guys in the secondary. He’s always been crossing over some, but we just made it a bigger emphasis now.”

 On the decision behind initialing moving Raheem Morris to the receiver’s coach:
“I think part of the reason why we’re moving him back, he’s one of the best connectors that I’ve met. His ability to connect and talk to a group and bring it together, that’s been always one of his powers. I thought he would bring a fresh mindset to the offensive side when we moved him over. He has such a background on defense, so it wasn’t in that space, he was going to bring new offensive knowledge, but what he could share with the guys, ‘This is how they’re playing you,’ ‘This is how we’re going to try to attack,’ ‘This is where they’re weaker.’ It was more in design to put him into that space. He just developed into the role and did well with it. There wasn’t a thought right away to move him back. I did think of it last year, but we didn’t do it at that time. I’m glad he’s doing it and glad we have the versatility to do it.”

 On whether or not he is comfortable with the current defensive coaching setup:
“That’s the goal for it. When you’re not hitting the mark, you want to make sure you’re looking at it under every different view and lens. I thought, at this point, bringing some fresh eyes onto some things would be what was necessary. I have complete trust in them, so yeah, I think it’s the right thing to do. I wouldn’t have made it this big a shift had I not thought it would make an impact. I have great belief in them that that will be the case.”

 On Raheem Morris’ contributions to the secondary:
“I think the background in the secondary wise, maybe it’s not a new technique, but emphasizing when to use the right thing. In other words, around the league, a lot of us have similar schemes or similar styles. When do you apply certain techniques? When you’re playing man to man, ‘I’m off, I’m on.’ How do you play certain formations together? Having fresh eyes on that, I thought, would be a good thing. Visibility to incorporate as much communication as we can, I thought that was a big piece.”

 On whether or not a win against the Saints would help turn the season around:
“Of course I do. That’s what it’s about when you gain momentum. To do that, we start in this… for us, I call it a ‘four-game block.’ I know we have five division games, but we’re really these four. It leads us up into Thanksgiving night, actually a game against New Orleans again. That’s the block, but even the focus is shorter than that. It’s just this game, just this matchup. We’re going after it with everything we’ve got. That’s how it should be. These two teams know each other well. Coaches, players, the whole deal. You’ve got to look at all the winning moments, all the matchups, players too. Yeah, for sure, a win certainly adds to your momentum.”

 On Takk McKinley:
“I think by in large, on the whole side defensively, no one is pleased with where we’re at. He’d be the first to tell you that. What I can say is he plays extremely hard. That’s one of the things you can always count on, his physicality to play. What do we want to do? What are the small things we can do to help them get ‘this much’ distance to finish on the pass rush, to get to the hit? You’re not talking about trying to change 30 percent of the game, you’re talking about, ‘Can he improve five or ten percent to get the finish in?’ That’s where it comes down to it in his position, the production. As we go through this next four-game block, let’s take another look and see where it’s at.”

 On Drew Brees returning after injury:
“It is hard to think that you can improve after sitting out five games but somehow he [Drew Brees] did that. I think the Saints had around 500 yards of total offense in the game. I think that over the years, there has been consistency in his ability to deliver the ball in the right spot in the right space. You are not going to confuse him a lot with looks, but his ability to put the ball in the right location to the right player – from a scheme standpoint they have done similar things but with different people in some of those roles. He has been the constant and certainly has all of the respect from us for that. You can go back to 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, all the way up until now and some of the concepts will look the same but he is the one who is at the front of the execution.”

 On the bye week coming at a good time:
“A coach will say it [the bye week] is always at the right time, but it 100% did. You get the big picture and you look at it and see how do we reset ourselves and make sure that every moment we are going for it and seeing what is the part of our game that we can improve. That is what we have put all of our attention and time into. There is definitely a freshness that comes back to all teams after a bye. Now it is a matter of what we do with it [the freshness]. I would like the intent and energy of the team to come out so that we can throw together a hell of a week so we can go out there and play well.”

 On addressing the team after the bye week:
“First we went over some of the changes. We had some personnel changes and we went through those. We had a trade after the trade deadline with Raheem [Morris] so we went through that – what it looks like for some of the coaches and how their roles have changed and how the players’ roles have changed because of that. Past that, we went right into the team. There is a freshness that has got to start right now and for us to play consistently what it looks like. We had a good example of it against Seattle but only for one half. I thought that from a team standpoint – playing defense, punt, score – it was the normal standpoint that you like. We talked about how we want to play and focused on the things that we want to do well. You could use the analogy of focus and part of texting and driving. You can’t be in two places mentally and physically at once. That kind of focus is what we are looking for and we have to capture that to get back to the winning ways. The preparation has been good but for whatever reason, we get into the performance and it hasn’t been. That is what we are really looking to aim at but there is a good energy about the team. They are a lot of fighters with a lot to prove. I anticipate the energy and mindset to be really strong.”

 On having great practices but not translating it into the game:
“That has been the nagging part. Putting in good preparation doesn’t ensure that you are going to play well but it gives you the best chance to do that. Now, it could be a tweak in a meeting with how we are presenting – how do we take that and bring it into the game and deliver it for the whole game. Not just this quarter, this half, or this – but the whole ball game. That is what we are looking to do but I can’t argue that there have been good practices, good preparation, good energy for it but we haven’t performed like we need to.”

 On the team leader’s response to the 1-7 start:
“I think frustrated is definitely how we would all feel. A number of them have been an excellent model of what to do – like Alex Mack. His process of getting ready to play is as clear as it could be for another player to watch. So, what are the small changes that our focus has to increase? That is what I went big on in the team meeting – like how do you recapture focus? It is not a penalty in the drive, it is not a lapse of communication of a basic coverage that you didn’t take a seam or cover your guy. Those are the things – like how do we stay in the moment longer and how do we stay on track better? I think those leaders have done that and now let’s hold each other accountable to make sure we are doing it the whole way through.”

On his personal reset after the bye week:
“I had to reset as well because you carry that. For me, you want the success for the team, for Arthur [Blank], for the community, the fans – everybody – and when you are not meeting that mark it definitely weighs on you and it is heavy. You have to make sure all of our energy and attention is focused on the win. That is really where I put my attention – how do we get better and go? That is really where I put my attention and time and how we can get it there. That is really where I try to put as much time as I can. I am charged up and ready to get rocking.”

 On game-planning for Cameron Jordan:
“There are a couple of ways. You look at games like who can be potential game wreckers and how can we make sure that this part of the game doesn’t let that person do what they are best at. I want to try to take some of that away. The consistent players like him who year after year and game after game put in consistent performances, you better make sure that in certain situations that player doesn’t hurt the game. Even offensively, not only are the highly targeted but they are highly effective. Then, Jordan on the same side, you know where he is going to line up so it’s like how are you going to find ways to make sure that player is not going to be comfortable when they are playing. That is part of the individual matchups but then the player has to also know some of the matchups and what calls could happen and what protection means certain things.”

 On how the rest of the season looks:
“I told the team the division starts and we want to throw it as hard as we could for this four-game block. We get a chance to play on Thanksgiving and what I like about playing on a Thursday is that you get a chance to reset and go. We will then have a very good sense for where we are at in the division with the four-game block coming up. Then we still have some division games obviously right after that. In this four-game block, I hope that success would look like a positive turnover margin and excellent communication on all three phases. On the special teams side, I would like to see winning field position and effective kicking and punting. Those are some of the things that I discussed. If we do those things right, a lot of the other things will take care of themselves but we have been way off in that space. Turnover margin, communication, and field position on the special teams – I can’t tell you how important those three things are. Those will be a good way to tell where we will be in a month’s time.”

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