Q: Were you concerned about the wild streaks under Dan Quinn and the lack of consistency?
A: "It does take a while to get there. You want to have that kind of consistency. I'm glad we didn't have it this year because it would have meant the back half of the year would have been as bad as the first half of the year. But I think the ability to play at a sustainable, high level -- by and large when I go back to 2008 when we drafted Matt (Ryan) –- the team is ranked fourth in the NFC in wins and seventh in the NFL in wins. The team has reached a whole different level of being competitive than prior to that. So, I think in the long view, that sustainability, that kind of consistency has been there. But it needs to be a little more consistent during the year for sure."
Q: Coach Mike Smith’s teams stressed “football intelligence.” Coach Quinn stresses “competitive toughness.” Can coach Quinn’s teams marry “football intelligence” with “competitive toughness” moving forward?
A: "Absolutely. I think the best coaches do that. I really believe that. I think the best coaches in the league don't play cream-puff football. They play with commitment. They play with energy. They play with, I don't want to say hostility. We are not taking prisoners. We are going to win and yet they are disciplined, so that they don't shoot themselves in the foot consistently. That's one of the areas where Dan I think has worked on.
“We had a number of penalties in the first half of the year. We were very heavily penalized in the first half of the year. Back half of the year, not so much. To his credit, he brought in officials. The officials were here for all of the practices and were calling everything. That made our players even more aware of what is going to be called. In the last game we had a few more penalties that we have had, but generally in the second half of the year the penalties have been much lower.”
Q: Is appointing Rich McKay to be over the operation a move to a more traditional NFL front office?
A: "I think that Rich has a huge knowledge base. He's been involved in football operations for 25 years (the past 15 with the Falcons). ... He did take a five-year hiatus when he helped us get the stadium built. But during that period of time Rich has chaired the competition committee for basically 25 years. He's done a fabulous job. He's current on the game. Current with everything going on. Understands players. Understands personnel. Understands coaches and coaching given his own background, his father is a (college) Hall of Fame coach.
“So, I think his position up here and work both with Thomas and Dan will be very helpful to them both as a support system, as a sounding board, giving counsel when appropriate. He and I will be talking almost on a daily basis about things. I’m very happy that we have that resource available.”
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