These were Dan Quinn’s opening comments after Sunday’s game, presented without editing.
Quinn: “After coming back in the locker room, the guys played hard. We knew it was going to be a physical division game. That’s exactly what it was. It was a disappointing loss. Also, one of the topics we had talked about was a division game, so we’ll give them the credit. Some of the things offensively I was certainly pleased with our ball security. There was a real mindfulness for it, in terms of the way we protect it. They were going after it. They’re a ball-hawking team. So I thought that part of our game was on point.”
After 99 words, we’d gotten one glancing indication that Quinn’s on-point Falcons did not, you know, win the game. Except for that lone deviation, this resembled a politician hewing to his/her Talking Points. Quinn did not look or sound upset. He looked and sounded the way he always does, at least for public consumption — bright-eyed and upbeat.
Word No. 100 and beyond: “The things that weren’t (on point) were some of the pre-snap fouls that we had.” Then he got into other not-glowing stuff, but never at any, er, point during this debriefing did he give the impression of a coach who was, you know, ticked.
Don’t get me wrong. Composure is a beautiful thing. But in a results-oriented industry after a horrendous loss following a season in which the Falcons lost seven of their final nine games … wouldn’t you expect an NFL coach to be less than sanguine?
Before Wednesday’s practice, Quinn was asked about his demeanor. His response: “I don’t show what happens inside the locker room outside. Our team would know the intensity you talk about, but there are some things I keep private with the team and some things I share with the fans and with the public. But about the team – most of those difficult conversations take place; at times they’re uncomfortable for sure. We talk about things we did well, or what was the cause of the scar that allowed us not to play well.”
Then: “I think it’d be a better question for the players if you want to find the answer.”
Good idea! So here was Devonta Freeman: “He’s always the same guy – high-intensity. He’s never like a yeller. I’d describe him as a high-energy type coach. He’s fun to be around.”
We stipulate that a person has the right to be as he/she is, not as someone else thinks he/she should be. We note that Seattle’s defenders played outrageously hard and spectacularly well for Quinn. But there’s a difference between being an assistant and the Head Ball Coach. A coordinator is charged with eliciting the best from his platoon. The head man gets W’s and L’s attached to his name.
Amid the unraveling of last season, only once – after the 38-0 embarrassment at Carolina, the Falcons’ sixth consecutive loss – did Quinn seem anything close to miffed. (He deemed the result “unacceptable.”) The issue isn’t that his Falcons don’t play hard enough; it’s that they, since the blush of 5-0 faded, haven’t played well enough. They’ve become sloppy and wasteful.
W’s and L’s: After the Tampa Bay loss, Quinn is 8-9, 1-6 against NFC South opposition. Whatever he’s doing, it’s not enough. He might be delightful company, but his job isn’t to be Mr. Fun. (Pretty sure the Patriots don’t love Bill Belichick – except for those days when they’re handed their Super Bowl rings.)
Quinn again: “My intensity certainly comes out. I’m not going to drive our team through outside sources. It’s always going to be inside the walls of our team and on the field and inside the locker room.”
That’s laudable, maybe even noble. But he’s no longer Pete Carroll’s energetic aide-de-camp. He’s the head coach of a team going south. If he doesn’t demand more and better, he mightn’t be the head coach much longer.
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