Here’s what Falcons coach Dan Quinn had to say after the loss to the Redskins:
Opening statement: “Good to see you guys. Just speaking in the locker room, talking some about pre-season stuff about developing players, evaluating players. There's nothing like these games for us to do that. So there's all these learning moments that we get to find out about players, what could happen, who could develop. That's where we're at. Tonight, a couple things that we liked what we saw is the line of scrimmage on both sides. Defensive line early on was able to generate some pressure. I thought on the offensive line, really keeping Matt [Ryan] clean tonight early on. Maybe hit seven or eight passes to different receivers to start the game. To me, that was one of the things we were looking to see after last week, how that would go on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Defensively, I thought we made some progress on third down. That was one of the things we've been digging onto hard, then special teams we had some miscues that certainly on the return game we need to clean up because it was nice to see some good covering, some tackles inside the 20. But we've got to put the whole thing together. At the end of it, being minus two, that makes it tough. To get in the plus, you have to create 'em. We have one early on, but then not to respond to any was disappointing. I was excited to see the defense get a good stop towards the end of the first half, first-and-goal, come out with a field goal. I felt that was a big moment in the game. After that I saw lots of different guys in different spaces make plays. Lots to watch tonight and tomorrow and we look forward to doing that before we wrap up the final part of the pre-season. Okay, lead the way.”
On offensive line performance: “Number one, the protection. That was the spot to me that I thought we really wanted to address. Thought there were too many hits last week with Matt [Ryan]. So for tonight, no sacks. I don't know the number of hits as we went to it, but I thought that was, for us, a big space where we had some different guys in. Good to see Carp [James Carpenter] get his first action, [Matt] Gono get his first action with the group. We're still not where we're going to be, but I was pleased with the performance tonight with them.”
On Giorgio Tavecchio: “I think like everything we're going to evaluate that spot like others as well. That's what the pre-season is for, is getting a chance to look at guys, see what they can do, develop players. That's part of the fun of the pre-season, who can develop, what could they be. As far as that goes, same standards for everybody in evaluating our performances of where we're at. How concerned are you, though, with the misses? I think, number one, early there was one or two that were long, for sure. Any time at any position when we miss the mark, we want to find out why, what we can do to get it better. It's definitely a spot where we're continuing to evaluate. That is always the case.”
On punt return situation: “Yeah, you learn from some of the failures, for sure, with those guys. You hope when they get put into that space again, they're able to learn from it and grow from it. [Kenjon] Barner is the one that will lead the way for us from the return side. We held him tonight. He's been getting the bulk of it. We split it around, wanted to give those guys their opportunities. It doesn't always go like you want, especially for a rookie. You have to kind of live through those moments and keep pushing them forward, see how they respond from them. They'll get certainly some more chances next week when we head down to Jacksonville."
On whether he wants returners to return deep end zone kicks: “It's a good topic. We talked about that. When it's eight or nine deep, do you do it anyway just to get it on tape? Ito [Smith] was kind of itching to do it as he was inching back. I thought the first one he was going to take back. When he was drifting, I said, ‘Okay, here we go.’ Trying to make a 108 yarder. That's the mindset you want. We've been working some in practice. I think where we're at, we're going to continue to work. Sometimes you can't help that. What we can work on is the punt return. We had our chances for those tonight. I was disappointed we didn't get a chance. We've been working hard on the return side and didn't have those tonight.”
On Qadree Ollison: “I don't know what the stats would say, you guys may know better than me, but there were some good first down runs that moved the chains. Maybe sometimes that doesn't show up in what an average per carry is. I don't know what it was. There were some good first down runs. Short yardage play that got converted. Another one second-and-two or three, a new set of downs occurred. I thought he really played behind his pads tonight. For his size, I've been hoping to see that. Now that he's starting to gain in his feel, you feel his physicality and his size. That was good to see for a big guy to run behind his pads like that, I was glad to see that.”
On Takk McKinley: “Well, I hope so, too. That kind of energy at his position, that's one of his traits that we really like because that energy and toughness that he brings. Him and Adrian [Clayborn] and Grady [Jarrett] and Vic [Beasley] and Jack [Crawford], all those guys mixing together, that was fun to see. We've been working that group quite a bit. To their credit, they're really putting it in. They're fit, they're strong. They've been working hard at it. When you stress something that you want to emphasize, the guys are the ones pushing forward with it, there's a lot to gain. I think as a group, we'll continue to grow a lot stronger in that area. I did like the intensity that they came off the ball with, especially as pass-rushers.”
On Jermaine Grace: “He certainly made a lot of plays, not just on defense. You guys have seen him take the running back out of the backfield swings. I am so excited for the improvement that he's made. It's a true example of all the work in a planned D. Thomas [Dimitroff] and I talk about it so regularly. He is definitely one of those guys. He's become one of the favorites because everybody knows all the work that they put in. They know the background, they know the story, they know the grind, the unseen grind that you guys haven't seen. His teammates have. He just continues to get better and I love the speed he plays with.”
On depth at running back, wide receiver and defensive line: “We hoped that would be a good thing (laughter). We agree with you, those are some of the positions that are some of the strengths-based on how the guys are performing so far. There's always things for us to work on and look at as we're going. At running back, there's a number of guys that we featured in different ways. They're all making some impacts on special teams. On the defensive line side, it's more the versatility. There's some that can mostly be outside players, and there's some that have the versatility of playing a couple spots inside. I think you probably saw Tui [Jacob Tuioti-Mariner] was at end, nose tackle, you saw [Deadrin] Senat at nose tackle, three, different guys outside. We're always trying to push to see what a player can do. This is the best time to do it, in the pre-season, put him in a new role, in a new position. Is this something moving forward that you can count on that person for? [Chris] Cooper had been at free safety for the majority of camp. We moved him to nickel this week. He got a lot of snaps at that. It's so valuable for us to evaluate the guys, to put them into new roles and new spots, and we'll continue to do that as the work continues into next weekend.”
On the fake punt: “Both I would say. We really want to have boldness. That comes on the special teams side in a variety of ways. On punt team, it happens on kickoff, the way you that can cover kicks, create momentum. It's part of what we are and how we do it. We thought when the opportunity presented itself, it was worthwhile to be aggressive. We were disappointed we didn't end up getting the points on that drive because it was a good extender. I think we jumped off-sides maybe on another fourth-and-one later on. That would have been a nice one to convert it in two different ways on a fourth down, that's being bold and aggressive. That's what we wanted to be. Us jumping off-sides, we had to punt at the end of that drive. To answer your question, just trying to stay aggressive. When the moment presented itself, we thought it was the time to act.”
On Matt Gono: “It felt exactly like I hoped it would. When you're watching the game, watching the guys, it feels real normal as you're going through, especially at that position, that's what you hope to see. His teammates, Matt [Ryan], both Matts, have a lot of confidence in Matt [Gono]. Seems like everybody we have is named Matt. Anyway, Matt Gono was one coming in I had high expectations. I think one of the hits may have been on him as it went around the outside edge. I love that he got matched up with a player who I think I have high regard for in [Ryan] Kerrigan. It was good to see him really function. He has really put the work in. We talked about [Jermaine] Grace. He's another one behind the scenes that have put in the unseen grind that you guys don't see but his teammates do. We're all looking forward to seeing him play. We'll see what the tape looks like tonight and tomorrow.”
On defensive line: “Wow, I'd say always when we're looking at guys, I'm looking for the energy of the group, who has the ability to provide that kind of good energy to get going. [Deadrin] Senat was one that I thought had good energy, the way he played. I thought [Takk] McKinley had good energy. The way he played. Good to see Adrian Clayborn make some plays. [Vic] Beasley. There wasn't one standout in the first half to me. We gave some extended work to Allen Bailey, more work from him and [Jack] Crawford. All of them have their own unique roles. We didn't get Ty [Tyeler] Davison in tonight, but we'll get him back soon. More than anything, the best fronts I've been a part of had a real group mentality about them. That's when we'll be at our best, when all four rushers are in concert and working together and attacking people from different angles. That's when we're at our best. We're closer to that vision, but by no means are we where I think we could end up, but I like the work the guys are putting in.”
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