Dan Quinn: ‘There has to be a lesson in the pain of that loss’

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn discusses the 40-39 loss to Cowboys in Arlington, Texas.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Here’s what Falcons coach Dan Quinn had to say after the 40-39 loss Sunday to the Dallas Cowboys:

OPENING STATEMENT:

“Just got done with the team in the locker room. Tough to put a loss like that into place. I told the team there has to be a lesson in the pain of that loss. I’m sure we will work into that as we’re getting into our preparation for next week, but definitely one that stings.”

On the message to the team prior in the timeout prior to the onside kick: “I think in that space what we try to do is if you have a timeout, you want to see if there’s an overload to a side – not an overload – but direction that you’re going to see. That’s what we did. We called that in that moment. ‘Hey, were just trying to correct what we were going to see, if it comes up,’ and it looked like it was a slow-roller, as opposed to a high-bouncer. We have to go capture it when the moment comes. I’ll get a better view of it tonight, but from what I saw, it was a slow-roller and one that we should make the aggressive move to go get it.”

On how to explain players did not know they could touch the ball before it traveled 10 yards on the onside kick: “Well, I think they definitely know. The front three are usually blocking as they’re going and the high bouncers go to the second side. So, the front line, generally on an onside kick, they’re looking to get a block first and the high hop goes to the next player. When that instance happens and it’s not one that’s a high hopper, then you just transfer in and you go to your ball, but you’re looking at your assignment first of who you have to go block — certainly the ball and then your assignment. They definitely know the rule.”

On whether he plans on having any coaching changes following the loss: “No.”

On the explanation he received from officials regarding Cowboys WR Michael Gallup’s fourth-quarter reception near the Atlanta 10-yard line: “I thought it was worth a challenge to go for it. They had said that it was butt first and then elbow. So, one in, one out with a bang-bang kind of move as opposed to the elbow being out first. So, we thought it was definitely worth taking a shot at it in that space.”

On the decision to go for two when up 26-7 in the second quarter: “I thought at that space, get it to where it was up to three scores, get it back to your normal spacing of points to go. More just chart-related to get the score going. Nothing too deeper than that on that one.”

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) fumbles the ball after being sacked by Falcons linebacker Deion Jones (45) with help from defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (56) in the first half Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (Ron Jenkins/AP)
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) fumbles the ball after being sacked by Falcons linebacker Deion Jones (45) with help from defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (56) in the first half Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (Ron Jenkins/AP)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

On whether the possibility of forcing fumbles was something they saw on tape when preparing for the game: “Not one that was something that they showed poor ball security or anything in that space. I thought it was more in conjunction with the players really having a mindfulness for it. It just felt early on in the game, there were bounces, there was a (pass break up), I think Ricardo (Allen) had one and knocked it up in the air. So, it just felt like they were really on it, taking shots, but it didn’t feel like something that we saw from tape specifically.”

On the difference in the pass defense from the first half to the second half: “I think both things. Both in the run game they had a few from a success standpoint and converted some third downs, which allowed some drives to go. I don’t know what the time of possession was in front of me today for the second half, but it felt like they were able to convert some third downs, which extended some drives for sure.”

On whether he thought there was a big swing in momentum from the dropped touchdown pass for Atlanta and Dallas WR Amari Cooper’s one-handed catch: “Yeah, I don’t know if it was a momentum shift, but one of those examples of when an opportunity — whether it’s on offense or defense or on special teams — it could be in the third quarter, it could be in the fourth, but there are these moments that come up and you pounce, you attack. When they happen for you, you recognize it, you feel it. When it happens to you, you also have the same emotion, but I think at the end of it, there were a lot of plays in the game you’d like to say, ‘OK, how would this play out? How did it go?’ But, sometimes, they get highlighted, the ones, but it wasn’t the entire momentum shift, I didn’t think, no.”

On whether the special teams unit practices covering a slow-rolling onside kick: “We have. There are different ones to do. You have a high bounce or try to fake one way and come back. So, with five to a side, you generally don’t have a number of different ways to do it. We’ve actually been on the other side of that, of recovering some of the onside kicks. So to lose one today, when we do spend a good amount of time on that, certainly hurt.”

On what WR Calvin Ridley was doing to get so open on offense: “He’s somebody that we’ve been talking about this entire, not offseason I suppose, but from training camp all the way through. I think his mindset of what he came into, into training camp, the improvement that he made, he’s just really on his game. So, the opportunities with him and Ju(lio Jones) and Russell (Gage) is now kind of making his space, and saw some good ones to Hayden (Hurst). So, I think Matt (Ryan) is finding his rhythm will all of the players. Calvin came into the season with maybe some extra, that I saw in the improvement side, and it’s really carrying forward into the games.”

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On how the loss and 0-2 start impacts his future as coach: “Well, I think number one, you just want to attack it a week at a time. I’m obviously disappointed in the way the game ended because, as I said, there’s a lesson to be learned in a loss to say you have to go finish it out. I think this is going to be a very good team. We’re not there today, but the improvement we want to make and what we can become, that’s all out there for us. Once we get past it, we’re going to go through it all tomorrow, and then we’ll put all our attention and focus onto Chicago.”

On the explanation he was given from the officials for the too-many-men foul on fourth down in the third quarter: “I’m just going to say it was one we discussed. Hopefully one that won’t happen again because it wasn’t anything that the team had fouled up.”

On injury updates to OL Kaleb McGary, DE Takk McKinley, S Ricardo Allen and LB Foye Oluokun: “So, all four of them weren’t able to return, but we’re certainly hopeful that nothing’s going to be a long-term injury status. But, we’ll have more information for you tomorrow when we connect in the afternoon. But, as it stands right now, there’s nothing that’s looking like it’s going to be long-term. Let’s go through the whole process with seeing the doctors tomorrow and going through that before we make any big judgments on it.”

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On whether the fans made a difference in today’s game: “You felt energy in the building. I don’t know — it didn’t change like a normal would — but it was good to see, in this setting, having some fans. Hopefully, around the league, we’ll all start to be able to do that in whatever that looks like. It wasn’t swayed one big way or another due to crowd noise, but it was certainly good having the fans be a part of it.”

On what led to Dallas having 570 yards of total offense and 31 first downs against the defense: “I saw the number. It didn’t feel like that, but you look at it and it is what it is. I would say the opportunities — I think we were just — we didn’t make the mark we wanted to on third downs. I thought some drives were able to get extended and I thought a couple of big plays in the second half were definitely a big factor in why those yards crept up like they did.”

On what he can say to the team after a tough loss to keep the spirits high: “Well, there’s nothing to keep your spirits high, but I’m honest with them. I say, ‘Hey, there’s not a good place to put a loss like that, but there is going to be a lesson that you have to take out from the pain.’ I thought it may come down to a finishing moment. There may be a teaching one, whether it’s the special teams one, there’s an offensive one, a defensive one — all of them are in there. That’s what we’ll hit on tomorrow and then turn the page as we’re heading into Chicago. It’s a very resilient group. We have core veterans at a number of spots. They’re pissed, but they’re 100% committed to getting our season on track like we expect us too. That’s what I expect from our guys.”

On the concern level regarding the defensive performances in the first two games: “Well, I would say it’s concerning enough that we really wanted to challenge for some takeaways. I was pleased to see that part. I suspect that this is the same type of group that when we see some things that we want to get corrected and move on, that that will happen as well. They’re connected. They’re ready to go. We came out in the right space, but we didn’t finish in the right space. Hopefully, like I said, we’ll apply the lessons that we learned — defensively, offensively, teams-wise — the whole thing, to not have this moment and these feelings come back again.”

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