Cowboys’ Dan Quinn gearing up to face the Falcons

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn watches warmups before an NFL football game against the New York Giants in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Credit: AP

caption arrowCaption
Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn watches warmups before an NFL football game against the New York Giants in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Credit: AP

After getting fired five games into last season, former Falcons coach Dan Quinn landed on his feet as Dallas’ defensive coordinator.

The Falcons (4-4) are set to face Quinn and the Dallas Cowboys (6-2) at 1 p.m. Sunday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

ExploreMid-term report card: Falcons had solutions to earn 4-4 mark

Quinn became only the second coach to guide the Falcons to the Super Bowl, his team won the NFC South in 2016 and made two trips to the playoffs. After two consecutive 7-9 seasons and an 0-5 start, Quinn was dismissed.

“I have great memories from there and I always will,” Quinn said to the Dallas media on Monday. “I think a lot of the really cool things that we accomplished there – and there were a lot of them – versus how it ended. That’s an important declaration. I’ll certainly forever be grateful to (owner) Arthur (Blank) for giving me the opportunity there and to all of the players I had the privilege to coach.”

Quinn wanted to acknowledge his time (2015 to 2020) in Atlanta, but was clearly concerned about his Dallas unit, which turned in a poor performance in a 30-14 loss to Denver on Sunday.

“You guys saw the performance (on Sunday) so there is no time to take a stroll down memory lane,” Quinn said. “We got some (things) to fix. So, I’ll be right where my feet are, right where I’m supposed to be going after it as hard as we can. Worry about the jerseys I coach now all throughout the week.”

Quinn then admitted that it will be bittersweet facing his old team.

“Yes, that’s correct,” Quinn said. “I did that. And then when I started here, I started fresh again. So that’s to me why there was some separation. I wasn’t there three weeks ago. This is my team. This is who I’m with. And this is my crew. I will always think of the memories, but I’m where I’m supposed to be.”

Quinn doesn’t think the Cowboys will want to win the game for him.

“Let’s just make sure we get back to the style and attitude that we like playing with,” Quinn said. “That’s honestly the most important thing.”

caption arrowCaption
Falcons head coach Dan Quinn and quarterback Matt Ryan watch the defense during the second half against the Baltimore Ravens Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn and quarterback Matt Ryan watch the defense during the second half against the Baltimore Ravens Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

caption arrowCaption
Falcons head coach Dan Quinn and quarterback Matt Ryan watch the defense during the second half against the Baltimore Ravens Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

The Falcons’ offense has been retooled. Quinn will have familiarity with quarterback Matt Ryan, but didn’t coach the team’s top two weapons – running back/wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and rookie tight end Kyle Pitts.

“I think it can help on really both sides because you have some knowledge of the player,” Quinn said. “No what I don’t know, I haven’t been all the way through their schemes yet. I can’t help on that side of things, but just a speed or technique or skill or player, you can certainly give insight to that. Almost like a scout would because you have knowledge of that. But as far as the scheme, they’re new in all three phases.”

The Falcons ditched the pro-style Air Coryell attack that offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter preferred to the modified west coast offense that new coach Arthur Smith runs. Defensively, the Falcons have switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 base defense and the special teams units are more aggressive than Quinn’s units were.

Quinn’s defense is led by rookie linebacker Micah Parsons. He leads the team with 38 tackles and five sacks. Also, defensive end Randy Gregory has five sacks.

caption arrowCaption
Dallas Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn walks on the field before the first half an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Arlington, Texas, Monday, Sept. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Credit: AP

Dallas Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn walks on the field before the first half an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Arlington, Texas, Monday, Sept. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Credit: AP

caption arrowCaption
Dallas Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn walks on the field before the first half an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Arlington, Texas, Monday, Sept. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Former Falcons safeties Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee followed Quinn to Dallas.

Kazee has started all eight games and had 20 tackles, an interception and three passes defense. Neal, who’s moved to linebacker, had played in six games and made two starts. He had 24 tackles and two tackles for losses.

Kazee, who’s playing strong safety, played 43 of 78 snaps (55%) against Denver and had one tackle. Neal played 34 snaps (44%) and had six tackles and a tackle for a loss.

Quinn wants to have his unit ready to finish off plays against the Falcons.

“To have 14 missed tackles, that’s a lot of missed tackles,” Quinn said of the performance against Denver. “If you’re going to play defense, you’d better be good at tackling. This game, there were just too many one-person tackles for our liking. That, to me, was the story of it.”

Dallas has the most talented offense that the Falcons have seen since they faced Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in Week 2 of the season.

Offensively, the Cowboys are led by quarterback Dak Prescott, who returned last week after a calf injury.

Prescott has completed 69.4% of his passes and has thrown 18 touchdown passes and five interceptions. He has a passer rating of 108.7.

Running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard have combined to rush for 1,025 yards and are averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Elliott has five rushing touchdowns and Pollard has one.

Wide receivers CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper are both having strong campaigns. Lamb has 41 catches for 632 yards and four touchdowns. Cooper has 40 catches for 532 yards and five touchdowns.

The Falcons will also have a challenge in covering tight end Dalton Schultz, who has 37 catches for 424 yards and three touchdowns.

The Bow Tie Chronicles

For more content about The Atlanta Falcons

Follow me on Twitter @DOrlandoAJC

On Facebook at Atlanta Falcons News Now

Atlanta Falcons coverage on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Falcons’ 2021 schedule features trip to London, January trip to Buffalo

Atlanta Falcons schedule and scores

Eagles 32, Falcons 6

Buccaneers 48, Falcons 25

Falcons 17, Giants 14

Washington 34, Falcons 30

Falcons 27, Jets 20

Bye Week

Falcons 30, Dolphins 28

Panthers 19, Falcons 13

Falcons 27, Saints 25

Next four games

Falcons at Cowboys, 1 p.m. Sunday

Patriots at Falcons, 8:20 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18

Falcons at Jacksonville, 1 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 28

Tampa Bay at Atlanta, 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 5

About the Author

Editors' Picks