Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn jointly addressed the media Thursday. They offered insight into the decisions to hire Ruston Webster and Phil Emery, the approach the team will take to personnel and roster decisions, and more.
Building the roster will continue to be a collaborative process, with Dimitroff and Quinn working closely with Emery and Webber and the rest of the scouting department to come to decisions about the draft and free agency.
"We are collaborative, and I do pride myself on that, and Dan prides himself on that from a coaching standpoint. We spend a lot of time doing that, and it's very important in this league, and I think that should be very clear to most people. It's not one person hammering their fist on the table," Dimitroff said.
"It's truly about talking to the coaching staff about it, talking to the scouts about it, the area scouts, the regional scouts, and now the national scouts and discussing it. And I think ultimately, someone has to pull the tag off the board, and those are my responsibilities, and that comes back to, ultimately, my responsibility to make sure that we're picking the right people and our acquisitions are right."
When asked whether there may be too many cooks in the kitchen, Dimitroff sais he is "not one bit" worried about the fact that there are so many former general managers working alongside him in this process.
Dimitroff identified Webster and Emery's roles as national scouts and called them "very adept evaluators in this league." Both Webster and Emery have many years of experience at every level of scouting, up to and including general manager roles. Dimitroff also said the team is overhauling the player personnel department, pointing out that the team only have five draft picks in 2016 and that they'll need to be prepared to fill needs.
Presented with a hypothetical situation where Dimitroff and Quinn don't agree on a player, Dimitroff said they would simply choose to pass on the player. For some reason, this perspective riled up fans on the Internet. This doesn't necessarily mean that they'll just remove a player from their draft board if they can't agree. Quinn said that prior to the draft, they will work to come to an agreement. If they can't come to an agreement, they will pass on the player.
For Dimitroff, the key is ensuring that Quinn is able to get the types of players he needs to fit his scheme.
"It doesn't really matter in the end who has 53 or -- in the end, it's about the two men who are ultimately making the decision on building the football team to discuss what's best for the team," Dimitroff said. "And in the end, honestly, in the end, the head coach has to have the say on what should go down, because it's his scheme, and he knows the type of linebacker he's looking for or the type of pass rusher or maybe the tight end for that scheme. I think that's very, very important to never lose sight of, and I strongly believe that."
It's more likely this type of disagreement on a player would be an issue on draft day. Say a high-profile player falls out of the first round due to character concerns or off-the-field issues, and he's a player the Falcons didn't expect to have an opportunity to get because of their draft position. This is where, if Dimitroff wants to pull the trigger and Quinn doesn't agree, the team will choose to pass on the player.
Quinn said that, after a whole year in Atlanta, he has learned a lot about being a head coach and has a much more comprehensive understanding of the team's needs and the types of players he needs to excel next season. He also learned a lot about the power of the team sticking together through adversity.
"That was kind of one of the things I hit on -- how connected and tight these guys are, and knowing the style that we want to play is really clear. The players have a very clear understanding of what that's going to look like," Quinn said. "The part we didn't get done from our philosophy standpoint was making it about the ball in terms of ballhawking it defensively. Offensively, we've got a lot of talented players. The mindset and the attitude work. Now it's time to recapture that work ethic and go for it in the biggest way."
Dimitroff will retain final say over personnel decisions. He has final say on the players the team ultimately drafts and brings in via free agency. He had final say last year as well. Quinn will continue to have control over the 53-man roster. The final say on the 53-man and the practice squad was also Quinn's last year.
Not much is changing here with the exception of the additions of Emery and Webber and the changes in the player personnel department. Last season, with a collaborative approach between Dimitroff, Quinn and Scott Pioli to the draft and free agency, things seemed to go reasonably well. This collaboration, along with Quinn's year of experience, will hopefully pay dividends for the Falcons this offseason.