Here’s what Falcons coach Dan Quinn had to say after the 18-12 season-opening loss to the Eagles on Thursday:
“This one stings for sure. We knew that this was going to be a competitive fight that would likely come down to the end, [and] it did. [It was] two heavyweights going for it to battle it out. For us, there’s obviously much to clean up on. There are parts of the game that we liked. To end, on third down we certainly can improve. [In the] red zone offensively, there’s certainly some work to do there, and having that many fouls in the game. [It’s] tough to be able to get some of the third downs that you like having to convert in that spot. That’s where we’re at.”
» Matt Ryan: ‘It’s disappointing to not leave here with a win’
On the inefficiency in the red zone: “We’re going to go back and look for sure. As you know, we’ve put a good bit of work in there and we still have more to do. By no means does this game determine –  is over, this is 2018 and that’s part of our game that we have to get right if we’re going to be really good. Our ability to score down there has to change and we weren’t able to do that tonight. We’ll give credit to [the Eagles], coming in we knew this was going to be a good matchup defensively, offensively and in all the different areas. But that part of our game, clearly tonight, we didn’t execute at the level we’d like and we’ve got work to do.”
On whether the game clock limited the playbook on the last drive: “No, not necessarily, because we had optics for it. We were pretty clear on our time of what we had. Without timeouts, we knew we had to take shots into the end zone. But at that point, we were prepared to do what we had to do in that moment. So no, the time was not necessarily a factor for us in that moment.”
On the momentum change after Eagles QB Nick Foles’ reception: “I think I expected [the Eagles] to have some, what we call, ‘gadget-plays.’ We certainly give them credit for it. I’d say the momentum was there and then after, defensively, I thought we got backed up on a punt right there at the end of the game. We punted, had a facemask [penalty] and they push it down [the field]. That was another shift in momentum, too. But in a game like this, that kind of happens where it goes back-and-forth. I’ll give them credit, they made a good play on that one. But I thought defensively, there were some real signs of things I liked. We played well man-to-man [and] did a good job on the deep ball. But at the end, we thought there were some leaky yards in the run game defensively for us.”
On the mindset of the offense in the red zone: “The psychological challenge is that we have a very resilient group. [It’s] really a tough group of guys. We’ve put a good bit of work in and we’ll continue to do that. I would expect this group – like I said in there – we’ll get our [butt] off the mat and get back to work. We’ve got work to do. We’ll go back in and clean those things up tomorrow, but by no means is our psyche adjusted from one game.”
On why Falcons WR Julio Jones was not on the field during their first red zone opportunity: “I think that’s just the natural rotation of players. Perhaps one of them did not have a receiver on the field on the goal line play. That could have been one of those, which is pretty traditional on that to not have [a receiver]. I’ll look at it again tomorrow and have a follow-up answer for you. It didn’t stick out to me one way or another, we want [Falcons WR Julio Jones] on the field all the time. We knew we weren’t going to have him play 75 straight plays in his first game. I’ll have a better answer for you tomorrow on that specifically with that question that you had.”
On whether he was making a statement by going for the end zone on 4th-and-goal in the first quarter: “Not necessarily a statement, but we do believe in ourselves. I wanted to make sure when we had those opportunities to take a shot and go for it and score. At that time I thought it was the right call. For us at the one-yard line I thought we had a good play called and good plan, [but] we didn’t execute it. It was pretty typical for me.”
On the Falcons’ lack of progress in the red zone dating back to last season: “I can understand why you would say that. The results did not show that tonight, for sure. We’ve got work to do, for sure. [We’ve] put a lot in, but by no means am I going say that based on the last eight months of work and based on one night. Am I disappointed? I am. But by the same token, I do know what we have and the things we have worked on, and we will get that scenario worked on and get back to it. That’s really what we do.”
On whether the red zone inefficiency is a timing issue:
“I’ll go back and look at it. I don’t have a good answer for you right now. If I did, I would be clearer on it and I would give you that. But let’s connect on that tomorrow and we can talk at length. There was a number of red zone plays that we had, so I’d like to go back and look at them. Then we can communicate about them.
On Falcons RB Devonta Freeman and WR Julio Jones not playing in the preseason:
“I thought Julio played excellent. I don’t think there was a timing issue amongst those two [Falcons QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones]. I’ll certainly look back at the tape, but if it was, I don’t think it was anything that would extend from work that they haven’t done. In the hours and hours and weeks on weeks of time together, I don’t think that’s an issue.”
On Falcons QB Matt Ryan’s throws down field being off tonight:
“We didn’t discuss that during the game, no. When you don’t complete them as you’d like, certainly there’s going to be questioning: was it the throw? The route depth? You want to go back and dig into those. They had a good pass rush, too. Good hits on the quarterback and a good pass rush can often affect a quarterback.
On Falcons S Damontae Kazee making plays today and his progress:
“Yeah. It’s been kind of par for the course for him in terms of him making some plays and leading different teams. He’s been a factor on [special] teams and he was a factor on defense today. He’s made an exceptional jump going into his second year.”
On Atlanta’s defense tonight: “We certainly had our moments and on third down. We have some spots we need to clean up. They [Falcons defense] were a very competitive group, they’re making strides, and I’m excited where this defense can go.”
On Falcons RB Tevin Coleman getting more of the workload: “[Falcons RB Devonta] Freeman got banged up there at the end, so it probably worked out more of a balance between the two, and then Tevin just got more of it as it went.”
On Falcons S Keanu Neal’s injury: “I don’t have any updates on that at the moment. It doesn’t sound or appear to be something serious, but I certainly won’t have any information on that until tomorrow.”
On the team’s penalties: “The pre-snap ones, I know [Falcons DT Grady Jarrett] thought he could take his guy to the side on the quarterback hit. Some of the personal foul ones were wrong. I didn’t get a chance to see [Falcons T Ryan] Schraeders on his. I saw [Falcons TE Eric] Saubert’s; I thought that was a face mask for sure. I thought down the field, I don’t have a good view on that part of it.”
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.