Dan Quinn was the right man for the Falcons’ head coaching job. Thanks to his many proverbs, he will bring a championship to the city of Atlanta.
After week one of this season, I wrote an article questioning the hire of Dan Quinn. At the time, the Falcons were mired in a 3-9 slump and fresh off a disappointing loss to the Buccaneers.
To a fan’s eye, it appeared the players were not responding to Coach Quinn’s frequently used adages. If you have ever watched a Dan Quinn press conference, you know the ones I am talking about.
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From “fast and physical,” to being “about the ball,” all the way to the “next man up” philosophy, none of those principles carried over to game day in Quinn’s first 17 contests. Needless to say, Dan Quinn proved me wrong in his next 16. And unlike some of the more seasoned journalists in the national media, I am not afraid to admit defeat.
"We've seen SEA lose before, but I can't remember the last time a team was more physical than them."
The Falcons solidified on Saturday that they truly are a “fast and physical” bunch. Typically, the Seahawks are the ones pushing people around, but the Falcons signaled there’s a new bully in town.
Winning the turnover battle
The team’s physical nature also led them to their plus-two turnover margin in the win over Seattle. Quinn has stressed nearly every week that the game will come down to who wins the turnover battle.
It may be a simple strategy, but the fact of the matter is the Falcons were not living by that motto last year. Atlanta corrected that this season and their +13 turnover differential is one of the biggest reasons the team is one win away from a Super Bowl berth.
Another reason the Dirty Birds are knocking on Lombardi’s door is the Brotherhood movement. Dan Quinn instilled a culture in Atlanta that has all 53 members buying in, which has resulted in the next man up mentality.
In 2015, the Falcons relied too heavily on guys like Julio, Freeman, Beasley and Trufant to carry the team to victory. This year has been a completely different story. The complimentary pieces added through the draft and free agency have risen to the occasion and done their part.
On offense, 13 different Falcons have caught touchdown passes compared to the eight that did so in 2015. As for the defense, the young guys have played beyond their years and have gotten better each week. Seven of the 11 defensive starters are first or second year players and each of them embody the Dan Quinn mindset.
Playing like champions
Above all else, though, the Dan Quinn idiom that will carry the Atlanta Falcons to a championship is one that has received very little fanfare. Quinn decreed early on that each game under his watch would be played with a championship game mindset.
No player has that had a bigger impact on than future MVP Matt Ryan. Before Quinn arrived in Atlanta, the veteran quarterback had his share of playoff failures.
Ryan admitted part of his problem was treating his previous playoff outings as more than just a regular season game. A difference in approach translated into a career renaissance for Matty Ice and the much maligned quarterback has carried that success into the postseason.