Quinn wants versatility on defense, including some 3-4 principles

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn gives his impressions of the team's performance during Monday's scrimmage. (Video by D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

Falcons coach Dan Quinn, a long-time proponent of the 4-3 defense, admitted that the team is working on some “3-4 principles.”

“We tried to mix in versatility for a lot of players in all of the spots,” Quinn said. “Defensively, mix in between some 3-4 principles and 4-3, where it’s nice to have that versatility when we need it for stand-up outside guys (or) four down guys. It’s important for us to have the ability to go in and out of some of those looks.”

Quinn addressed the topic after the Falcons’ red-white scrimmage, which quarterback Matt Schaub’s red team won 23-15 over Matt Ryan’s white team.

Quinn, who will call the defense as the coordinator this season, wants more versatility because of all of the mobile quarterbacks the Falcons are set to face.

“Big nickel guys, big safeties, two safety packages to match up,” Quinn said. “We’ve got corner guys. Sometimes you’ll see four corners out there. Three defensive ends as a package at a time. You’ll see, it could be some three or four linebackers the way they can run. Little packages. Not tons that could have an impact.”

Quinn admits that he’s still experimenting.

“This time of year, you plan big,” Quinn said. “What do you do against this scenario and then that one? Now, you have it all in, you can bring it in for that game as opposed to putting in the week of the game.”

Quinn doesn’t just want to sit in a 4-3 cover-three zone shell -- his trademark call when he was Seattle’s defensive coordinator -- and be attacked.

“I think it allows you to find matchups that you want,” Quinn said. “Certainly, the offenses are looking for (matchups that they like).”

Quinn is getting the defense ready for eight games against mobile quarterbacks who run read-option packages or zone-read running quarterbacks.

The Falcons play the Eagles (Carson Wentz) on Sept. 15, the Titans (Marcus Mariota) on Sept. 22, the Texans (Deshaun Watson) on Oct. 6, the Cardinals (Kyler Murray) on Oct. 13, the Seahawks (Russell Wilson) on Oct. 27, the Panthers twice (Cam Newton) of Nov. 17 and Dec 8) and the Jaguars (Nick Foles) on Dec. 22.

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