An unscripted Dan Quinn is an impressive Dan Quinn

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, right, greets Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn after an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Dan and Pete, together again. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Surely it had something to do with the charged setting — his new team had come within a Richard Sherman armlock of toppling his old team in the fortress where that old team has gone 34-5 since 2011 — but one Dan Quinn response Sunday was unlike every postgame DQ response as the Atlanta Falcons’ coach. This one sounded unscripted. This one sounded, dare we say, genuine.

On Sunday in Seattle, someone (blush) asked Quinn if he felt better about these Falcons, who are 4-2, after six games than he did last year’s Falcons, who were 5-1. His unedited answer:

“I like what our team identity is becoming. So badly did I want the identity to happen right away. It’s growing stronger, that toughness that resolve to where we can attack in all three phases. That identity is one that I’m pleased that were starting to become, we way we want to finish, the different people that get involved. We have had some games where different groups came through. Two weeks ago certainly the defensive line had a big day. Two weeks before that the quarterback and receivers had one. We have had games where the special teams have been involved.

“Having that team identity knowing that all phases are going to attack, I feel it’s coming together. We so desperately wanted that to happen last year, I believe that’s where we were going with some of this but it didn’t in terms of all the way. I wanted that to happen overnight but it didn’t. But I feel like this group is growing, quite a bit different from last year’s group. We will be ready to get back rockin’ here in a few days.”

The two things I liked about that were the absence of “resolve” and “resiliency,” two DQ buzzwords invoked so often as to have shed all buzz, but mostly the part where Quinn, who tries hard to say nothing, said something. Three times he mentioned how “badly” and “desperately” he wanted this “coming together” to happen last season — and then admitted what we knew from the 8-8 finish after a 5-0 start: It hadn’t.


By conceding what didn’t happen last season, Quinn lent credence to his ultimate assertion — that it’s happening now. Because it is. (Yes, I’m surprised to be typing these words, but these are, to borrow from Paul Simon, the days of miracle and wonder.) A year ago, the Falcons were a team in transition posing as imposing. These Birds aren’t poseurs. These Birds are playoff-caliber. These Birds are good.

Back to Quinn: In that tiny admission — that he wanted something and hadn’t gotten it — he offered a hint as to why these Falcons, like the Seattle defenders before them, play so hard for him. When he speaks from the heart and not a bullet-pointed list of Talking Points, his words have power. I’ve been around him a bit over these past few months, but this was maybe the second time I thought: There’s a real guy in there.

I understand. Every corporate entity wants its spokesperson to hew the corporate line. The Falcons cowed Mike Smith, who needed little coaxing, into seven seasons amiable banalities — it’s always daunting to have the team’s high-profile owner sitting front and center at every postgame briefing, which doesn’t happen many (if any) other places — and Quinn joined the CoachSpeak queue. But that does a disservice to Quinn himself, same as it did with Smith. Sometimes your spokesperson needs to, you know, speak.

Quinn would appear a bright and intriguing guy, but the bromides come so thick and fast that the power of the messenger can be lost in his desire to Stay On Message. After last December’s 38-0 embarrassment in Charlotte, Quinn wobbled and deemed such a showing “totally unacceptable.” When someone (blush again) asked what that meant, he mumbled something about “finishing” — another buzzkill buzzword — and that was the end of that.

The Quinn seen in that one moment in Seattle — seen after a rousing performance that became a bitter loss — was different. He was forthright in a way that Pete Carroll, his old boss, is forthright. I realize that coaches aren’t put on this Earth to entertain us media folks, but the people with press passes aren’t so much a constituency as a conduit to fans and even players. As Dan Quinn grows into this job — and clearly he’s doing that — the hope is that he’ll allow himself to be Dan Quinn. Because he’s worth knowing.

Super fun reading from a wild Western swing:

Dan Quinn’s Falcons are “coming together.”

The Falcons didn’t win, but they made one guy believe (me).

The Falcons got jobbed but did themselves proud.

Having taken down Denver, the 4-1 Falcons head to Seattle.

The Falcons rock a rookie in the Rockies.

Reader Comments 0

10 comments
E983
E983

The game itself has changed from where it was to the way it is now teams with a big lead stop passing. The intricate offenses plays cease and the run games begin. The teams behind pass, pass, pass and no longer is a 21 point deficit safe wit 5 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter. The Falcons defense hasn't developed into that side of the ball where the adjustments to the late game have come. But take a look at the league itself and it's that way throughout.

The part of this that is completely unacceptable is the league being selective in it's replay system in the penalties it calls. Calling PI a "judgement call" and not reviewable is stupid because which penalties are not a judgement call. Last but not least is why does the league not suspend, fine or outright fire referees for a poor performance and "home team" advantage in the penalty phase of the game. Not only did they not call the PI "judgement call" at the end of the game by Richard Sherman but how about at least 2 to 3 different times a so called "non judgement" penalty known as Roughing the Passer not called against the Seahawks.

The Falcons dusted themselves off, got off the floor and embarrassed the Seahawks in the end. They lost but showed they had the guts to not quit and came back in the second half. The Falcons beat down a Seahawks defense and watch what happens to them if we get them in the playoffs.

Oh by the way, fire Roger Goodell..

Zapp
Zapp

Am I the only one who's watched the Falcons put their offense in the deep freeze and change their attacking defense to a prevent defense with a lead over three games.  That did them in just as much as a blown call.

TOJacket
TOJacket

Exactly?.....what game was he watching we haven't pussed all season?

Lachlan Neymar
Lachlan Neymar

@Zapp Well, let's see, the Falcons had a lead in the fourth quarter when the QB attempted a a 27-yard downfield pass to a double-covered receiver. Is that your definition of a deep freeze?

TideDawg
TideDawg

@Zapp I've noticed that with other teams. I understand the offense going conservative, but why does a team's defense that's been stopping their opponent all game suddenly decide that it doesn't work the last 2 minutes of the game and they switch to a "prevent" defense. But, the Falcons lost that game over 60 minutes and they played Seattle even. That's looking like a team that can win 8-9 games and win the division.

TOJacket
TOJacket

We will win the Division.

TChris
TChris

Holding our heads up high...Go Birds!


Eric_C
Eric_C

Mark, great perspective

lsmith256
lsmith256

Amen. Great job Mark. Some of the local sports articles are atrocious. And most of all Great Game Falcons, just not the outcome we hope for!!!!! #RiseUp