here’s what Falcons coach Dan Quinn had to say after the 13-7 loss to the Jaguars on Thursday:
“Before we get started tonight, I really would like to recognize Arthur Blank and his leadership with the donation to the Red Cross and to Houston. We want everybody to know that here in Atlanta we are behind them. For all of the first responders and the volunteers, you are the unsung heroes in this. We all notice and we’re watching for sure. Tonight, it was what we kind of labeled for ourselves internally as a brotherhood game. We wanted to demonstrate, especially for all the new players that would get extended playing time, how much we are in for them. We’re disappointed that we didn’t get the results that we wanted. We threw a great camp and at times we threw some great preseason football. At times, it didn’t go like we wanted especially in some of the second halves. We’ve got difficult decisions ahead regarding the roster, and that is exactly what you’d hope would be the case during this time of year. Guys have really put forth their best effort. Thomas Dimitroff and I will get right back to it tonight and continue on this discussion for the team. We’re very excited to get rolling here with the preseason officially ending tonight. We’ve got a difficult weekend with some roster decisions, but also an exciting time to know that the group of men that are going to make up this 2017 Falcons team is going to be one of competitive, tough guys filled with resiliency and guys who are ready to push it to the limit to see how far they can take it. We’re excited. We’re disappointed with the results at the end of some of the preseason games, but we’re very excited for our team. We’re very excited for everything that’s going on in our city including the stadium. After the second time in it, you see even more. We’re very excited, and with that I’m glad to open it up to your questions regarding the game.”
On how Matt Simms managed the game at quarterback:
“We were excited about the half. We thought maybe we’d have a shot. That was one where we’ve really spent a lot of time on some situational football. We had timeouts. We’d execute and get down the field. Some of the penalties knocked us out of some of the third downs that we would like and maybe there’s a drop or two in there. I thought overall Matt really showed himself well, and he showed that he can play in this league at quarterback. It’s not just tonight. He’s shown that in practice and the way he’s demonstrated that all through the spring. I thought he, in particular, tonight was somebody that really understood leading the whole group, getting calls, and battling like he does.”
On the list of people who stood out this preseason:
“I’m certainly not going to share our list with you with all the followers that you’re going to have. What I can tell you is we made a really big push on the football in training camp. We wanted to make sure that speed and attitude really came to life. We’ll start with Blidi Wreh-Wilson and having two interceptions in the end zone. You can imagine what that does to your defense when you’re able to flip the field in those spots. Those were two really big plays. Was it Chris Odom that had the tipped ball on the one that went to Sharrod Neasman? It’s small examples like that to say, ‘I’m going to strain to go make a play at the very end.’ That was very good. We were excited to see Jermaine Grace. It has been a long and extended playing time for him. He was playing alongside a really good veteran quite a bit of the time in Kemal Ishmael. We were encouraged to see the speed that he could play with. Our linebackers can run. That’s from top to bottom. The speed that they play with shows up on tape. It shows up on the way they hit. It shows up on the way they go after the ball. I’ve said it before. If I had a son, I’d want him to play linebacker for Jeff Ulbrich because he will go to the end of the earth to find, develop, and keep pushing. They’re in good hands, and we’ve certainly got some tough decisions with that spot as well.”
On the competition between Wes Schweitzer and Ben Garland:
“We’ll sit down over the weekend and kind of make our final push as we’re heading into next week and into Monday. I thought both guys threw a very good camp. We had great assessments, and we wanted to take it all the way through including tonight where we played them both at center and guard. That was really by design. As we head into next week, we pretty much have our decision down. You could see both of them playing. That’s how close this was. We’re excited and very fortunate that we’ve got two guys of that caliber that can play all three inside spots. That’s pretty rare in our league to have men like that that can play both center, guard, right side, and left side. Because of the training they’ve done, they are equipped to do that.”
On how the new cut deadline changes things for him and Thomas Dimitroff:
“Number one, we are in favor of the rule. It allows more playing time for more players. I think that’s a good thing for our league. It gets more exposure, more looks, more evaluations, and really more opportunities for a guy to say, ‘Okay, I did it one game, two games, and maybe the third, but I wouldn’t have had that opportunity and now I do.’ They really went for it. As far as the process goes, Thomas and his group certainly have that nailed and it will stay similar to what it’s been in the past over the next few days. There’s certainly some strategy behind that of when, who, and where. We’ve still got some evaluating to do tonight, tomorrow, and into Saturday as well.”
On one or two things that excited him the most from tonight’s game:
“The speed on all three phases jump out, and I noticed that way back in training camp when we had our first or second day. I said this feels different with the speed and energy that we were playing with. We took that to a new spot with adding more speed, but also knowing our assignments better years two or three into the system allowed us to play at a faster level in all three phases. To me, that was one of the most noticeable differences. We wanted to make sure we improved on our situation football. It almost makes up 50 percent of the play time with the short-yardage, the third-downs, red zone, and goal line. We wanted to emphasize that as hard as we could. We are a better team today than we were last year at that. We wanted to make that an emphasis. I think we’re better with our mindset for the ball. Defensively that comes with the speed, but offensively and special teams as well. We know we have plenty to do. Now, it’s about finding roles and how to use utilize the players in the very best way. It’s one of the parts of coaching that I enjoy the most. Not all the players are alike. How do you feature this pass rusher, this linebacker, and who is used on special teams and in what way? Now that the roster goes from really wide to a very narrow group and then even more narrow on game day, it’s one of the roles of coaching that I enjoy the most to say, ‘If he’s active, this is how he’d play.’ If we’re going to give you a jersey on game day, you’re going to have a role in the game for sure.”
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