A stunning admission: Blank didn’t think Falcons knew the rule

Dallas Cowboys cornerback C.J. Goodwin (29) secures the ball on an onside kick attempt as Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus (17) attempts to take it in the closing minutes on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Apologies in advance. This will, yet again, be about the onside kick. But this isn’t only about the onside kick. This concerns how Dan Quinn’s employer and biggest fan saw the onside kick. By his own admission, Arthur Blank saw it differently.

Late Monday afternoon, Blank appeared on SiriusXM’s NFL Radio — the high-profile owner has a book to plug — and was asked about guess what. Said Blank: “Clearly on the last play of the game (sic) yesterday our players, you know, didn’t do what they, you know, either what they were instructed to do and they didn’t understand it, or, it’s clear though they didn’t, in my view, they didn’t clearly understand what the rules were and exactly what they had to do. I think that’s demonstrated when you watch the video of it.”

If we cut through the “clearlys,” we’re left with this: The high-profile owner doesn’t believe his Falcons knew that they, as the receiving team, could touch an onside kick before it went 10 yards. (Indeed, if you watch said video, five of them do everything in their power NOT to touch it.) And that leads us to this:

The high-profile owner suggested to the listening world that his coaches had failed him. If players know what they’re supposed to do and don’t do it, that’s the players' fault. If they don’t know what they’re supposed to do, that’s the coaches' fault. That’s why you have coaches. That’s what you have a special-teams coordinator. (The Falcons hired a new one before last season, which began with a blocked punt in Minneapolis.) That’s why you have a head coach, who’d called timeout before the onside kick to go over instructions.

Earlier Monday, Quinn met — via Microsoft Teams — the media. He was asked several times about Blank. Said Quinn: “We talk regularly, mostly about the players and the game and just like that. That’s usually where our conversations are going toward. I don’t have anything else to share with you on that.”

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons coach Dan Quinn discusses the onside kick and his future with the team.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Then, a bit later: “Both of us didn’t have the right words to say (on Sunday in Texas) when you get hit in the gut. We visit on Sundays, we visit the day after the game to go through the process — things we liked, things we didn’t, the injury report. We really just take him through him the whole game, what’s ahead, how we’re going to feature things going ahead … That’s how we visited today.”

So: By the time Blank appeared on satellite radio, he’d sat with his coach for the usual Monday debriefing. And, though Quinn had insisted both in the game’s immediate aftermath and again Monday that his players DID know the rule, the high-profile owner still doubted. Which makes you wonder, not for the first time, why is Quinn still coaching Blank’s team?

On SiriusXM, Blank said: “Do you want to respond out of doing something that’s immediate and respond out of disappointment, that sadness, maybe anger, frustration, which all of our fans felt? And I understand why. Or (do you) think about, ‘How do we correct this?’ There’s 14 more games to play in the season.”

The title of Blank’s new book is “Good Company.” I’ll leave you with that.

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