It sure was refreshing to watch the Falcons fight hard for a win on Sunday, destroying the Carolina Panthers' perfect record. In his weekly Tell the Truth Monday press conference, Dan Quinn called the win a "measuring stick" for this team's potential.
"Yesterday, I thought, was a great measuring stick for us, not necessarily playing them, but I really wanted to see how we'd respond," Quinn said. "We'd been beaten, we'd been embarrassed, and I wanted to see how our guys would react, and over the last couple of weeks I think we've been playing more like the team I thought we'd be and that we can be and will be, and I see it by how hard the guys are playing for one another."
Quinn is correct. The team's 38-0 loss at the hands of the Panthers just two short weeks ago was humiliating. The fact that the Falcons bounced back with a win in Jacksonville, ending their six-game skid, and then had the fortitude to beat the Panthers, a very good, very complete football team, is sincerely impressive.
The Falcons have been eliminated from playoff contention, and Quinn relayed a story about his favorite fighter, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, to explain his perspective going forward.
"One of my favorite fighters is Marvin Hagler, and in his first chance at a good title fight against [Vito] Antuoformo, ended up in a draw and the belt stayed with Antuoformo," Quinn said. "After that, Hagler responded and said, ‘I'll never let it go into anybody else's hands again, and I'll make sure I do the things I have to do to get the job done.'"
Quinn said that Eric Weems was doing well today as he remains under the league's concussion protocol. He said that Paul Soliai will need a pretty big turnaround by Thursday to be able to play on Sunday with the calf strain that forced him out of action in Sunday's game.
Fans were concerned about Matt Ryan, who took a bit shot on his scramble that got a first down at the end of the first quarter and set up a Devonta Freeman touchdown to start the second quarter. Quinn confirmed that Ryan had been checked out by team medical personnel immediately after the hit, but that he was not injured. Quinn was also complimentary about Ryan's performance as a whole on Sunday.
Quinn says yesterday was one of Matt's best games. Says there was "no flinch."— Jeanna (@jeannathomas) December 28, 2015
Quinn talked about younger players' development and getting those players opportunities so the coaching staff can assess where they fit on the team going forward. With Vic Beasley, Quinn's pleased with the way he put it all together on Sunday.
Quinn says he thought Beasley's effort continued to become more visible as the game went on.— Jeanna (@jeannathomas) December 28, 2015
Quinn also mentioned the importance of getting experience for guys like Malliciah Goodman, Jalen Collins and Robenson Therezie.
As far as the losing streak and its role in Atlanta's playoff hopes coming to an end on Sunday, Quinn said that pain lingers, but he likes the way the team has responded to that adversity.
"I wouldn't say they're gone, because the result of having that experience left some scars and some marks, and we're not going to be able to participate in a postseason like we'd want to, so for sure they're not gone," Quinn said. "I think that's for sure. But what I do know is that I love the grit that's being developed these last couple of weeks."
And while the Falcons have been eliminated from playoff contention, this week's game still matters to Quinn. Finishing 9-7 is very important to him.
"It clearly does [matter]," Quinn said. "It absolutely does, and it's also a division game, and knowing the attitude and the style that we want to play with, but for sure it is. Everything counts, and it's a really important one for us. And obviously, when we went down there the first time, we didn't have a chance to play our best ball. They played a good game. That's why we're so jacked to play this one."
Quinn said that the biggest thing he took away from Sunday's win is that this team can play to its potential.
"More than anything, just that we're playing ball like the team I thought we'd be and that we can be, and that connection that the players have with one another, that's an important part of it," Quinn said. "But that's what it means, to make sure that we're playing exactly the style that we're capable of."