As the Falcons were assembling Dan Quinn's staff, it was evident that they were placing an emphasis on hiring coaches who excelled at teaching. It's an important focus for a staff who will have to not only implement new schemes on both sides of the ball, but also improve a team that has struggled with technique, particularly on defense.
There's already a difference that's obvious in on-field instruction based on the brief practice periods that have been open to the media. There's an emphasis on correcting fundamentals and identifying things that are being done well. Coaches provided defensive players with "point of attack" tapes, a teaching tool to help players understand what they're doing well as well as the areas they need to improve upon.
I asked Quinn about this focus on teaching, and he said that it's definitely a quality he looks for in assistants. "It certainly has been an emphasis. For me, the guys I'm most connected with are the guys that can reach the players," Quinn said.
Part of teaching effectively is understanding that everyone learns differently and being willing and able to tailor the approach so that each player is getting the most they can out of the process, and Quinn understands that. "Not all of us learn the same way," Quinn said. "As a teacher, sometimes I've got to go walk through it. I've got to go show it on the board. I've got to find extra clips."
Quinn has made it very clear that connecting with players is his top priority, and learning how to effectively teach each player on the roster is part of that. Another thing Quinn has made clear is that he and his staff want to help each player reach their full potential. "One of the terms we use is we're called - I say we're a developmental staff, and that's how well we can get to know each player and pull them as far as we can," Quinn said. Effective teaching is a fundamental part of that process.
Quinn said there are many examples of excellent teachers on his staff, but singled out linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich and offensive line coach Chris Morgan for being exceptional teachers. "I can certainly see it with Jeff Ulbrich, for instance, just a connection that he's made with some of the linebackers," Quinn said. "I've certainly seen it with Chris Morgan and going to a new scheme offensively. So there's lots of examples, and those two are two that sort of stick out to me." This will help ease the transition for a linebacker corps in need of significant improvement and an offensive line transitioning to a very different blocking scheme.
It probably won't surprise you that Dan Quinn is fired up about teaching. He says that effectively teaching players skills that help them reach their full potential is extremely rewarding. "It's one of the most fun parts of coaching is the teaching part of it, and our gratification comes from seeing how far you could pull a player to see the player they could become, and that's going to give great satisfaction as a coach," Quinn said.
What are your thoughts on the emphasis on effective teaching and how it will impact the Falcons?