Quinn: ‘I’ve made mistakes, and we get to fix them’

After the Falcons completed their final practice of the season, the team gathered up to hear the special guest speaker.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank was in the middle of the big circle and one could not be certain that he broke things down at the end with a “1-2-3, Rise Up!” because the media was ordered not to take pictures and was ushered into the locker room.

Blank informed the team that coach Dan Quinn and general manger Thomas Dimitroff would be retained for the 2020 season.

“He came out and he explained why he thinks coach Quinn deserves to be back,” said Falcons safety Ricardo Allen, one of the team’s four captains. “Why he thinks this team will stay together and that we fought through the bad times. The good times and the bad times. That just showed who we are as a team.”

Blank was impressed with how hard the team played and how they’ve posted a 5-2 record over the second half of the season after a pitiful 1-7 first half.

“He told us that coach Quinn was going to stay another year and that it was a big credit to coach Quinn and this team for the turnaround we’ve done,” said Falcons center Alex Mack, one of the captains. “That he has a strong faith in the talent that we have here and that we can do great things and be successful.”

Quinn, who was hired in 2015, guided the Falcons to Super Bowl LI in his second season with the team, but has gone 24-23 since. The Falcons started the season 1-7, before they rebounded.

The always positive Quinn naturally was stoked.

“The reason I am so fired up is because this has been the hardest and most invaluable year for me as a coach ever,” Quinn said. “I’ve made mistakes, and we get to fix them, and I think that’s an important thing … use these lessons here.”

Quinn realized that he’s receiving a second chance.

“Not everybody else always has the chance to do that,” Quinn said. “I certainly hate the results, but man, I learned a lot, and I’d say more than anything, I can’t wait to apply the things that I’ve learned with this team and moving forward.”

The players also are perplexed as to how to explain the turnaround.

“I think it’s been the sense of urgency from the first half to the second half of the season collectively,” Pro Bowl defensive tackle Grady Jarrett said. “I think that’s been the big deal and big change. We have to maintain that going forward. That has to be the new standard going forward.”

Mack said: “It’s kind of tough. It’s not exactly one thing. I think it was a matter of fixing the little things here or there. Just as a team playing better. I think we did a better job in the turnover battle. I think we did a good job of controlling the flow of the game better.”

After the Falcons were routed 37-10 by the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 20, Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones, gave a passionate speech in the locker room to the players about the missed assignments and that the losses were more reflective of the players than the coaching staff.

“Julio never talks,” Allen said. “When he does talk, it means something. For him to step in front of everybody, being one of our main captains, being someone that everybody looks up to. Every time that things go right or go wrong in the game, we are looking for Julio.

“So, for him to stand up and let us know that our play has no direct correlation to what coach Quinn is teaching us and coaching us sometimes. We had to take it upon ourselves as players.”

Also, Raheem Morris, who moved over to the defense after the bye week, was named the defensive coordinator for 2020 season.

“I think that’s a good move,” Jarrett said. “Since he came over to the defense, it’s been an added sense of urgency in the whole defense’s play.”

There was talk of carrying the momentum into next season.

“You would hope so, but for me, the way I try to look at it is that every year is a new year,” Jarrett said. “Past work and past success doesn’t determine future success. The same things works for failure.

“I think as much as you say things are going this way this now, we would be going to the playoffs. You can’t base your future success on the things you’ve done. I think it’s going to be a whole new mindset. We’ve got to hit the refresh button.”

The Falcons believe they have the talent for a quick turnaround.

“I think we have great talent here,” Mack said. “I think if we are all playing our best and are on the same page, I think we can play really good ball. I think that’s what we learned the second half of the year.”

Allen was moved to strong safety for the second half of the season.

“You don’t want the head man gone,” Allen said. “So, for us to be able to fight for him. That’s a blessing.”


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