Here’s what Falcons coach Dan Quinn had to say after the 17-13 loss to the Steelers on Sunday:
Head Coach Dan Quinn
Opening statement: We will get started tonight. Here is what we saw tonight that we liked. Right off the bat both sides really had intent mindset, really ready to play. You felt that kind of energy right from pre-game and to have two first good drives. We stalled at the second one and did not get the score that we had hoped but I was pleased to see the offense move down the field. I felt the defense speed early on especially. Unfortunately, what we did not like, is that it felt like a similar movie as a week or so ago down in Miami. A zero turnover ratio, and not as quite the finish that we would like. So the intensity was not sustained all the way through. The standard is the standard for all of the Falcon men. So we want to make sure our competitiveness, and our toughness really come out on tape. So Thomas and I, on the flight back, are going to dig right into the second half before we even watch the first half. There are so many guys that we are evaluating and looking to see who can battle and make an impact for this team. We cannot wait to go. Pass that, injury-wise, we came through. I am pretty sure you got a good tweet from one of the guys who already has been injured. Pass that, things look good. We got plenty of things to clean up on. We are so excited this weekend, to finally get to be back in front of our fans. The connection with the team and city, we miss them. We had a little taste of it, some days at training camp where we had a couple of five and six thousand days. But to get this thing rocking on Saturday night, we are beyond pumped to get rolling with our fans here Saturday night. So with that, I am glad to open up to your questions.
How was [Takkarist] McKinley’s Debut with the team?
He was very excited to get going lead on the first part. He played on defense, a little bit of right end in our nickel package and a little bit on the punt return game. So for him getting his first NFL action was exciting for him. I will take a look at the tape, he did not get a lot of turns or a lot of what you call opportunities. But man, it was good having him out there. There were a couple guys who made their first one. Jack Crawford made his first trip through as a Falcon today. It was good having Keanu Neal back in action today. So, we got a good rotation of guys who really battle at the defensively line spot and I am encouraged by the work they have put in so far. So tape is going to be an important part of that and we will go back and see how it went.
Re: Pressure of the defense:
I was happy with the speed, I felt that intent. We had a couple good third down stops. One, I thought we got fortunate on, they dropped the pass. Which, may have been converted but pass that I felt the energy, I felt the speed, the get off. Those are the things that I am looking for first. Are you able to move the quarterback off the spot and if you can do that, which is when the completion percentage goes down. We do not always look at sacks as the final number. Although, they are good because you get a chance to get the ball off of them. So we got to get more, if we are going to create some more turnovers defensively. We are getting a few interception wise but not the force fumbles that we are accustomed to getting.
Did they get [Joshua] Dobbs moving a little bit?
They did, and what a great play we thought on Jack Lynn going after him. It was a really good stop… getting his hands right underneath it to go and get it. A classic old school SC battle there.
Re: Offense not being able to convert another five and six on third down:
Definitely was concerning lead for the second half. The main thing that we want to see, is can you really function and execute at the level that we had. Oftentimes, the challenges as a backup player, maybe when there is an issue or mistake that have come up on the man before you, are you making that same error or same mistake. Those are things that are challenging for the guy that is competing for the backup spot, but we can improve in that area. Heading into this next week, I am hopeful that we see better jump in some of those spots. But, the main thing that we are looking for, is that competitiveness, that toughness, to show I belong here and so badly want to be a part of this team. That is what we are looking for to jump out. Pass the scheme part, that part we know we can get corrected. Game plan long, we are really looking to see who can make a statement to say I want in and I want it bad.
What is your initial evaluation of Wes (Schweitzer) today?
I do not have a great one to go on, but not in a bad way either. So I was pleased with how the first drive went and he in there for that entire one. Then, Ben [Garland] came into play center and stayed at guard. He had two real solid and long series there. So, I did not feel anything go off course or any of that way. So, we will take a good look at that tonight for Ben and Wes (Schweitzer) both, I was pleased with their start tonight.
Re: Matt [Ryan] said first drive of the offense was more detailed.
It was one of the areas we were trying to be more specific about. Our motions, our shifts, our alignments, the depths of our route, the tracks that we run at. So, they challenge themselves on that one to see if that part of our game get sharper and stronger. It felt like that happened during the week we went back big training camp stuff, big move the ball periods offensively and defensively. We wanted to push guys conditioning and I felt that in those first few drives. Conversely at the end, we can do better and we are aiming at seeing who can really set out to show who can do something.
Re: Takkarist McKinley:
It is important to us to best understand how to future our players. Then when you get back into it, okay what are the things that the player does really well. It is especially true with the first year rookie players because you haven’t played them in your system yet. You are trying to find real specific things that they can do. That part can be used as an important one. To say that he could be a nickel right end, what things can he do really well and that’s what we will try and emphasize. The first half of the season, to say okay, you are doing really well and we want to get that part of your game up and running. For him, we thought he really improved from a pass rush point in training camp. He has his legs back under him, getting a feel for the game. He hasn’t played since all the way back in November. For him, it was a long time to get back on the field. We are encouraged by his first time back out on the field. I know he was excited to get going with the team.
How do you feel special teams played today?
We are going to go back and look to see what happened on the block in the first half and the return. Clearly, we were disappointed in that. I loved the tackle. I thought Matt Bosher had a couple of nice hits. Especially, when we had a backed up punt. That was the first time we had that one. I thought he hit it well coming out of his own end zone. The defense made a good stop there. With that kind of field position, I thought we might have been at the 45 or 40 to hold them. To punt in that scenario was good. We need to clean up on all three phases but we will take a good look to see who is standing out as a cover-man. I was pleased with the kickoffs by Mike Meyer. We told him to drop the ball down by the goal line as opposed to touchbacks. We are trying like hell to find out who can cover. If you left it up to Mike Meyer, he could kick it into the end zone. Damned there every one, he has that kind of strength. But in this game, drop it in place so we can find out who can cover and that is an important part of evaluation.
Re: Terron Ward:
We will go back and find that out. We will put your evaluation skills to the test. As we go back through, the special teams are going to be a real important factor. Our running back spot is a unique one because of 24 and 26, the uniqueness that they have. The third running back is a really important one. Not only do you have to say not only do I have to step up and play when capable, but I also have to make an impact on the team. I love Terron Ward’s toughness. That showed today. He started on all four special teams kick offs and punt returns. His toughness showed. So we will go back and take a loom tonight.
Re: J’Terius Jones and Chris Odom:
We are excited about those two guys and where it could lead too. JT has edged speed in pass rush ability. Those are guys you want to try and work and develop. The great thing for us is that they are great type of guys. They want it, they are going for it, they are battling for it, and they are competitors. The whole group, they have some great guys to show how it can be done. Not saying, just do what he does, but there are models of the work that has to be with guys like Adrian Clayborn, and Brooks Reed. In practice, they grind. The young guys want what they have and they are putting in the work.
Re: Matt Schaub’s hand:
They are inaccurate. I kind of had a number in mind that I was hoping for the offensive line. So that is why I made the shift in series. After the third down, there was a number that we discussed from an offensive line standpoint and we were going to change out with [Matt] Schaub and the offensive line and we kind of reached that spot and that’s why we made the move in the first quarter.
Re: Getting Devonta Freeman back:
I don’t know yet. He stayed back home this weekend. We will get rolling in with him tomorrow. He is looking up for sure. I talked to him this morning and he’s excited to see the guys play. He is disappointed he’s not here. He asked what the meeting was like last night, just wanting to know everything. He is that just that kind of teammate. It really bothers him that he isn’t here with his teammates.