FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Fast and physical are two words that are heavily ingrained in the Falcons’ brand under Dan Quinn.
In all aspects of the game, Quinn expects his team to play with an identity that starts with physicality at the core.
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Atlanta’s 2018 season didn’t meet Quinn’s standard in that regard by any means.
Quinn believed the “compass” was off in all three phases of the game and in order to recapture the identity he envisions for his team, he parted ways with all three of his coordinators following the season. Dirk Koetter was hired to take the reins of the offense, Ben Kotwica will lead the special teams unit and Quinn will take over as defensive coordinator.
If you look at any defense Quinn has ever been in charge of, you can tell within moments the style he demands from his players. The words “run” and “hit” are plastered all over the walls of the Falcons’ team facility.
And Quinn expects those words to come to life every time his players step on the field.
“We’re going to capture that style,” Quinn said this offseason.
The Falcons finished in the bottom half of the league in almost every defensive category in 2018: Points allowed (25th), yards allowed (28th), pass yards allowed (27th), rushing yards allowed (25th) and sacks (22nd).
Quinn hopes by building a defense that embodies more of a physical style, those statistics will be better in 2019.
Personnel and scheme changes are how Quinn believes his defense will get back to playing the style he wants.
“More than anything the tweaks in the scheme along with the tweaks in the style to make sure we recapture that, I’m going to make sure the things are the most important stay at the front of our thinking and the physicality and the ball-hawking will certainly be some of those,” Quinn said.
One of the main areas Quinn believes the Falcons can be better in is creating turnovers. Atlanta generated 19 turnovers in 2018.
Keanu Neal is one of the Falcons’ best players in this area and Atlanta’s defense surely missed his presence when he suffered a torn ACL in Week 1. Quinn believes having Neal back on the field in addition to Damontae Kazee switching positions and the signings of Adrian Clayborn and Tyeler Davison will help recapture their identity.
“Keke brings a lot of that,” Quinn said of Neal. “He’s one of the ring leaders of our style. Putting Kazee by the line of scrimmage will do that, his fearlessness will be a part of that. Adding Adrian Clayborn and Tyeler and his toughness those are small tweaks that are going to pay good dividends.”