Countdown to Camp: Dan Quinn’s revamped coaching staff for 2020

Here's a look at the year-by-year record for Dan Quinn as coach of the Atlanta Falcons.

Editor’s note: Leading to the start of NFL training camp, we’ll take a look at the Falcons’ coaching staff and position groups. Rookies reported today. QBs and injured veterans Thursday and the rest of the veterans July 28. Today: Coaching staff.

Former Falcons defensive line coach Bryan Cox is very familiar with one of the team’s key new assistant coaches.

Cox’s son, Bryan Cox Jr., played defensive end for Cleveland last season under Tosh Lupoi, who was named the Falcons’ defensive line/run game coordinator/defensive ends coach by Dan Quinn over the offseason.

“He finished out the year with Cleveland,” Cox said. “He actually had his most extensive playing time and he did, OK. He only had a half a sack, but he had numerous pressures and he probably should have had six sacks in three games. (Tosh Lupoi), the new defensive line coach with Atlanta was his defensive line coach up in Cleveland. So, everything is full circle. Everybody knows everybody.”

Cox Jr. is now with Buffalo.

In addition to Lupoi, the Falcons’ major coaching move was naming Raheem Morris the defensive coordinator and landing secondary/defensive pass game coordinator Joe Whitt Jr., who also was in Cleveland last season.

Also, other assistants were reassigned.

With the retirement of Mike Mularkey, Ben Steele, who was the assistant tight ends coach last season, will take over as the tight ends coach.

Aden Durde, who was the defensive assistant/defensive line, will be the outside linebackers coach. Chad Walker, who was the defensive assistant/linebackers, will be the safeties coach.

Will Harringer, who was an offensive assistant last year, will be the game-management coordinator.

Before his Cleveland stint, Lupoi coached the previous 11 seasons on the college level, including five seasons at Alabama.

“Tosh comes in with a bunch of experience from Alabama,” Morris said. “A bunch of experience from recruiting. A bunch of energy. A bunch of confidence.”

Lupoi, although he has “run game” in his lengthy title, will be charged with helping to improve the pass rush, along with defensive line/tackles coach Jess Simpson.

“When he came in, the plan in his interview was how to rush the passer,” Morris said. “So many things he would bring to us. We were all fired up to add that to our staff. Hopefully, he can come in and be his best self and do what he needs to do.”

Lupoi’s communication and presentation skills are strong.

“He’s going to be able to present to Takk (McKinley) and those guys up front and (teach them) how we want to get after the quarterback and some of the things we want to do,” Morris said.

Lupoi looks forward to the challenge.

“We’re going attack this thing and really focus on what we can do individually to collectively put something out (on the field) on Sunday’s that we’re really proud of,” Lupoi said.

Whitt previously was with the Falcons in 2007 for a season on the Bobby Petrino staff. He went to Green Bay (2008-18) and made a name for himself while coaching future Pro Football Hall of Famer Charles Woodson and developing undrafted free agents Sam Shields and Tramon Williams into Pro Bowlers.

He was a hit with Falcons defensive backs during the virtual offseason program.

“He’s really smart,” cornerback Isaiah Oliver said. “That’s the big thing that I’ve gotten from him so far. He knows the game of football really well. … He’s been able to explain his message and his coaching style and how he wants us to play.”

Whitt has the reputation for being a no-nonsense coach.

“I enjoy his honesty,” safety Ricardo Allen said. “I’m not saying coaches are liars or anything like that, but coach Joe Whitt is one of the guys who goes above and beyond to make sure that he’s transparent, open and honest to all of his players.”

Whitt will be expected to have an immediate impact.

“Good guy,” Morris said. “Lots of experience. Probably another guy on our staff, who’s able to call it. Another guy on our staff who could be a head coach one day.”

Whitt has embraced his role.

“Working with (Woodson) and those guys early on, they let me know that great players want to be coached,” Whitt said. “That’s one thing that I learned it here with Lawyer Milloy. Great players want to be coached. I coach a certain way. I’m very demanding. But I want to make sure when we go out there we are giving ourselves the best chance to win.”

Whitt studied how the Falcons played last season. He saw the Falcons’ looking confused and disheveled in the secondary over the first half of the season. The sloppy play contributed heavily to the 1-7 start.

“We don’t need communication errors,” he said. “We don’t need anything like that…It’s too hard to win in this league. So, we don’t want to beat ourselves.”

Steele will be charged with developing tight end Hayden Hurst, who was acquired in a trade with the Ravens and has had a slow start to his career.

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