When the Falcons embarked on the search for the best candidate to fill their head coach vacancy, owner Arthur Blank had a clear vision in mind. The Falcons needed a head coach with a clear vision for success; a "players' coach" who would be a great representative of the franchise on and off the field. Dan Quinn is hitting the ground running in Atlanta, and it seems that the Falcons have found a coach who meets those criteria.
Quinn is walking into a challenging situation in Atlanta. The Falcons have won just ten games over the past two seasons, and the defense has hovered near the bottom of the league in major statistical categories. Quinn's leaving a team that won the Super Bowl last year and narrowly lost to the Patriots this year, and a defense that was dominant. It's reasonable to wonder why Quinn would want to make the jump to a head coaching position, especially Atlanta, especially now.
As he addressed the media for the first time as Atlanta's head coach, Dan Quinn's enthusiasm and energy were palpable. Quinn spoke with several teams during Wildcard week during the Seahawks' bye, and Quinn said it was clear to him from those initial talks that Atlanta was his top choice. The challenges associated with the transition from coordinator to head coach are the things that attracted him to this opportunity.
"It's the leadership challenge that you are after," Quinn said. "When you go from being a position coach to a coordinator, that challenge goes from managing your own individual room, and then as you become a coordinator then it becomes the staff that you are with and the defensive unit. For me, it was that challenge that it was going to take to run an entire team in the style and the fashion that we like to play football. For me that was the real reason why I wanted to take on this next challenge."
Quinn does have a vision for restoring the Falcons to success, and it starts with accountability. "Accountability is one of the things that we want to talk about first," Quinn said. "The messaging for our team as we go all the way through the process will be competition first and finding a competitive edge in all that we do. It starts with that first and then effort and toughness and the ability to finish that comes through."
Part of Quinn's vision is developing a clearer identity for the Falcons under his leadership. He's ready to start shaping that identity as soon as possible. "We'll have a real style about how we play, so I can't wait to connect with these guys," Quinn said. "I wish the offseason was pushed up so we could start even sooner."
Quinn definitely fits the "players' coach" ideal the Falcons were looking for in a head coach candidate. Quinn says he has a more individualized approach to coaching, recognizing that different players respond better to different approaches. "It's one of the things I love the most about coaching, being connected with these players," Quinn said. "There are all sorts of guys and we reach them differently. Some guys you have to put your arm around and tell them what a good job they did and other guys you have to find other ways to motivate them. For me, that job is one that I cherish, knowing that I can have an effect on how a guy can improve and develop."
Quinn and his staff have their work cut out for them, but Quinn's enthusiasm, his vision for leading the team to success and his approach to developing players and building relationships should ease the transition.
What are your thoughts on Quinn and how he fits in Atlanta?