Over the Falcons’ offseason, most mornings start with a coach’s meeting where several in-game scenarios are discussed.
“The breakfast club,” head coach Dan Quinn told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday.
During the mandatory minicamp, the final phase of the offseason which will be held Tuesday through Thursday, Quinn and senior assistant coach Bob Sutton will lay the groundwork for putting those plans into place.
Quinn also garners input from his offensive staff, which includes three former NFL and two former college head coaches, including Sutton. Sutton was the Chiefs’ defensive coordinator for the past five seasons.
“Having (offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter), (tight ends coach) Mike (Mularkey) and (assistant head coach/wide receiver) Raheem Morris going through some of the game-management situations has been a huge help for me,” Quinn said. “Having that kind of experience on offense, you could imagine the trust that I have in them. It’s made a big difference.”
With Quinn taking over the play-calling duties as defensive coordinator, the hire of Sutton was needed. There will be times, in-game, when Quinn is reviewing with the defense on the sideline while the action is ongoing.
Sutton, a coaching veteran who spent nine seasons (1991-99) as the head coach at Army, downplayed his new role.
“That’s probably too much put on that,” Sutton said. “We are doing that like we do offense and defense. We’ve got a group of coaches that get together, we meet a couple times a week and we go over and review situations and things like that.”
Sutton likes the assemblage of former head coaching talent in those meetings.
“We have such a strong group of offensive coaches that have been in charge of these things,” Sutton said. “Of all of the time that I’ve been in the league, this will be my 20th year, this is probably as strong as a group that has actually been in charge and have done it.”
Sutton and Quinn worked together with the Jets in 2007 and 2008.
“It was an easy transition from that standpoint,” Sutton said. “We stayed close (since) that time. Always bouncing defensive ideas off of each other and approaches.”
Sutton ties with this staff run deeper. Defensive passing game coordinator Jerome Henderson was also with the Jets, defensive backs coach Doug Mallory was on Sutton’s staff at Army and special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica played for Sutton at Army.
“It was an easy transition where you knew some folks,” Sutton said. “I knew the kind of program that Dan ran from the culture that he was looking for and that was appealing to me.”
The give-and-take in the meetings has been refreshing.
“If all I’m going to do is help Dan is squeeze it into one direction so that it can be manageable for him,” Sutton said. “Obviously, with taking over the play calling he needs some help in some other areas. He’s going to ultimately make these decisions.
“We are really trying to do all of the leg work for him, so when we get to those games it’s already kind of done.”
Despite all of the preparation and planning, Sutton plans to stay fluid during the in-game situations.
“One of things, my experience has always been that whatever situation you give or anybody gives, it’s that situation, but it’s not isolated to just that,” Sutton said. “There are always these circumstances that are around it.”
The staff is also discussing how they want to use their timeouts.
“Sometimes, it’s who the heck is on that other sideline,” Sutton said. “Do we want to give him the ball back? All of that is really, there is no real ‘that’s the only answer’ type of thing.”
Quinn and Sutton will put the team through some situations in the minicamp.
“No matter how much you think you’ve thought through this, often there is something that comes up,” Sutton said. “Somebody didn’t get out of bounds when they should have gotten out of bounds. Somebody stayed in bounds.
“I just think really the more that you put your players in that situation I think the better off you are. It’s one thing for the coaches to understand what you want to do, but so many of these things are happening on the move.”
If a player doesn’t get out of bounds, the clock will keep running.
“They’ve got to be able to process some this as well,” Sutton said. “We’re fortunate in that we have a really, really sharp quarterback. So many of these situations are offensive oriented.”
Matt Ryan is an experienced clock manager dating back to when he beat the Bears with just 11 seconds left as a rookie. He also famously got the team into position for Matt Bryant’s game-winning field in the divisional round of the playoffs against the Seahawks on Jan. 13, 2013.
“Matt is very good at it,” Sutton said. “I know from playing against him in the past that he’s one of those guys that can manage it. He’s really calm and he understands it.”
The scenarios are countless.
“Every time a timeout is gone, that changes the dynamic,” Sutton said. “We are fortunate. Dan has put a lot of time into it. A lot with the players and tried to put them in situations. I think that’s really good.”
Sutton doesn’t know if he’ll be on the sideline or upstairs in the box.
“We haven’t gotten that far yet,” Sutton said. “We are really just setting the parameters. Where ever he’d like me to be. Where ever he’s most comfortable.”
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