Here’s what Falcons coach Dan Quinn had to say after the 24-14 loss to the Cardinals on Saturday:
“Let’s get started. Before we begin tonight, I really want to acknowledge the thousands of men and women that have really poured a lot of their energy, time and heart into this stadium. It’s unbelievable. Our team is so damn excited to be here. For all of the men and women who have created this lasting legacy, we wanted to make sure we acknowledged all of you and how much we appreciate all the work you’ve put in. We’re so damn excited to play. It didn’t turn out like we wanted in terms of the way the finish happened for us, but I did want to acknowledge that. It’s so special to be here back with our fans in our home. We are really excited to get rolling. I’ll hit you on some of the things I liked and then I’ll hit you on some of the things I didn’t like from the game. What I liked from the ball defensively was four forced fumbles and recovering three. That part I was pleased with. As for what I didn’t like, we missed a fourth-down opportunity. We had a chance to go down and convert. We had a tipped ball that was an interception on the first play of the game. Those are the things I didn’t like. From an injury update standpoint, we’ll have a better update for you tomorrow on Brian Hill, Kevin Graf, and LaRoy Reynolds. Past that, everybody is in good shape heading into next week. With that, I’d be glad to open it up to your questions.”
On what didn’t work for Matt Ryan and the offense:
“On the first pass, it was a tipped ball. It was good to have Julio Jones and Taylor Gabriel back in the lineup tonight. Offensively, I thought the run game was clean especially with Terron Ward early on. As far as not getting in sync, we took a couple shots down the field. On the third drive, I thought we did a better job of moving down the field, but I’ll have a better sense when I go back through the tape tomorrow.”
On how the right guards performed:
“We started Wes Schweitzer tonight. Next week it may be different. We’re going to take this thing all the way through the preseason before we make our decisions. We’re comfortable with both men. They both played center. They both played guard. That was kind of part of the plan to come in all week and take the evaluation through. We’ll do it again Thursday, and then I’ll have an update for you before we start the regular season.”
On how Julio Jones and Jack Crawford played:
“With Julio, it was just great getting him back in. You felt his intent right away. He wanted some shots down the field. For his mindset, he was hoping to get his chance to go hit a big one. He was anxious to show he had really put the work in from a rehab standpoint to show he’s really ready to play. Jack Crawford, for those who have been following the team, you all know the activity that he’s had as a defensive lineman. It was good to see that come to life today. He’s an active guy inside. He’s taller than a lot of defensive tackles at 6-5, but he plays with the quickness of a lighter guy.”
On whether performance changes way he will handle final preseason game:
“It doesn’t. It will be part of the evaluation for sure. I’ve been pleased the first couple of weeks with what we had. Today, I wasn’t (pleased) on some aspects, but I’ll look at it more (Sunday) and have a better feel. It won’t go into the factor of who needs more work in next week’s game.”
On how Alex Gray has done in preseason:
“I can say he has improved a lot. Thomas Dimitroff can probably share this story. Earlier, before we played at Miami a few weeks ago, he said it was his first game as a Falcon. He said, ‘No, T.D., my first game.’ I thought for him to go change sports and play at the highest level quickly would be difficult. His transition has gone very well. He’s got good hands to play tight end. He’s got size and length. We’re getting him up to speed in the run game, but he’s a bright guy with formations, shifts and motions. With that part, he has done a good job and he does have very good hands.”
On Takk McKinley’s performance:
“We really felt like he did show up in a positive way. I think this week in practice was one of the first times Thomas and I said he’s really coming his own health-wise, confidence with what we’re doing, and knowledge of the scheme. All of the time he missed he was good mentally, but we really felt that physicality. It really shined through today. I had said earlier that he was probably a little stronger than I thought. I think that showed today. I loved his intent and he is certainly connecting with the other guys. We like the rotation that we used today on the defensive line.”
On McKinley going down the field to make tackles:
“That part of his game was always there. It was that kind of effort and toughness that was first part of our evaluation and why we were first attracted to his style of play. When you grade our players with a ‘C’ or a ‘T’ for competitiveness or toughness, he had one of the highest ones that we graded. That was important to us. It’s good to see that part of his game really coming to life today.”
On McKinley’s aggressiveness:
“It’s the effort and strain that he wants to play with. He’s still learning, but it’s coming on faster. He’s able to not make the same mistakes even in practice. Let’s get that corrected. You see it the next day or the next rep. He’s able to progress quickly. We’re encouraged by what we see so far. We’ll get him some more turns again next week. He didn’t play in the first one so he did some last week. He’ll do a little more next week and we’ll get going with him again next week. We’re encouraged so far. It’s the toughness, speed and effort. All of those things that make the style of defense that we want to play come to life.”
On how special teams unit performed:
“We thought we really improved from a punt standpoint. That was one that we spent a good bit of work on this week. We tried different guys in different roles to see how it would go. I was disappointed to see a couple of fouls we had with one on punt return. I thought we could have fielded some more cleanly with the punt returns. We didn’t get a lot of turns with Andre Roberts but that was kind of by design. We thought we’d get one kickoff and one punt. Then, we’d keep evaluating some of the other players as we’re going through. We’re finding out all the information we want of all the guys going through. Some it is good and some of it is not so good. For us to find that out, that’s part of the evaluation process.”
On anything changing to create more turnovers:
“I’d have to say it really did change. I thought the first part of training camp the mindfulness to go after it was really strong and then I thought it waned a little bit. This week we totally felt it ramp back up as far as the mindset and attitude for it. I’m not surprised that we got so many out today because of what it looked like at practice. Duke Riley was at the very front of that and so was Deion Jones in practice trying to go for it. It’s never a surprise to see Keanu Neal force a fumble. ‘Strong Cuz’ is back and alive and well. That six-inch punch that he has is hard to deal with.”
On new stadium affecting game:
“It did not at all. The field surface was terrific. It’s identical to the one we have in Flowery Branch. As far as the halo board, it’s very high, and we came in yesterday as a team to kind of go through to make sure. Where’s the scoreboard? Where’s the game clock? Where’s the shot clock? We caught some punts but honestly they thought of all those details ahead of time. It totally came through for us in the biggest way.”
On Ricardo Allen making plays and how he’s changed over last year:
“We challenged him in a number of areas. I was happy to see him make some plays on the ball tonight. It was one of the areas we had discussed maybe 10 days ago with some areas he was really looking to work on over this next block. For him to play some man-to-man and make some plays on it and the quickness he was playing with, I was very happy with his play tonight.”
On how he and team will approach upcoming week:
“The guys will have off tomorrow. The way we’ll prepare for Thursday’s game is our Monday will be like a Wednesday. Then there is Thursday, Friday, and a walkthrough. We’ll take that block of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and then even on Thursday we’ll do some walkthrough to get ready. There will be plenty of things that we will want to emphasize for our own selves to get better in the areas we’d like to address. As the week progresses, we’ll spend some more time on Jacksonville. The first part of the week will almost solely be devoted to things that we want to address and get better at.”
(Transcript provided by Falcons media relations.)
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