New Falcons coach Dan Quinn off to quick start
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) New Falcons coach Dan Quinn did more than just say hello to his players in the first team meeting this week.
Quinn used the get-together to hand out individual ''point of attack'' tapes, showing each player what he does well in technique and what part of his game needs extra work.
Since replacing Mike Smith on Feb. 2, Quinn has looked forward to the first meeting, and he says it met expectations.
Quinn says player turnout at the voluntary offseason conditioning program ''has been great'' as the veterans and assistant coaches have met to discuss new offensive and defensive playbooks.
''That's what this week is about - not only the scheme we're doing but also a way for us to connect with these guys,'' Quinn said, ''and talk about some specific, detailed things that each of them can have some focus to improve on.''
Quinn's primary task is to rebuild a defense that ranked last in total yards allowed, third-down efficiency and sacks and ranked sixth-worst in scoring.
In Quinn, Atlanta gets a respected coordinator who helped Seattle win a Super Bowl and a two NFC titles the last two seasons with the league's top defense.
Quinn believes the Falcons have filled big personnel holes with free-agent signings of outside linebackers Brooks Reed and Justin Durant. He hopes to land a pass-rushing end with the No. 8 overall pick later this month.
''At that position, it comes down to speed and length and that effort to keep relentlessly going, that's what makes the really elite pass rushers the great ones,'' Quinn said. ''Those hands, that effort, that mindset.''
The Falcons' offense does not likewise need a major rebuilding. There's stability at quarterback with Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Ryan and receiver Julio Jones, and Quinn brought in coordinator Kyle Shanahan to rebuild the inconsistent running game.
Quinn's approach with all of his players, though, is entirely upbeat - ''have the best offseason you've ever had'' - and Ryan says the excitability of his new boss is infectious.
''I've really enjoyed getting to know him as a person,'' Ryan said. ''He's got great energy. He's awesome here in the building. It's not that difficult of a transition because Dan has made it easy for everybody and made it exciting day in and day out.''
The Falcons' 10-22 record over the last two years ended Smith's seven-season tenure.
Atlanta accomplished some of its best seasons under Smith, earning four playoff appearances, two division titles and ending the franchise's 44-year history without consecutive winning seasons.
But the Falcons went from elite to dysfunctional after finishing the 2012 season 10 yards shy of the Super Bowl.
In Quinn's world, none of that matters today. After all, he remembers hearing the Seahawks talk of their pain of losing in the NFC divisional round three seasons ago when Ryan drove the Falcons into range for Matt Bryant's game-winning field goal at the Georgia Dome.
Quinn and his mentor, Seattle head coach Pete Carroll, used that disappointment to help the Seahawks become Super Bowl champs the next year.
''The players - they absolutely feel the energy the coaches can bring into the building ?and onto the practice field, into the meeting room,'' Quinn said. ''For us to be the best functioning staff in the world, we've got to be tight. So that's our challenge and our goal to see how we close we can get to be at our best for the players.''
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