Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn probably worried about it. He probably tossed and turned, losing some sleep about it. But when the media peppered him with questions about cornerback Jalen Collins taking third and fourth team snaps, he said nothing. Nothing.
Fast forward a few days and it’s all out there. Collins’ second positive test for PEDs was front page news, which is odd in some ways, because he’s a back up. But now we’re navigating the aftermath.
ESPN’s Vaughn McClure has been covering this story extensively since it broke. He and others got a lot of flack for insisting the demotion meant something. Turns out it did. (Please forgive the lengthy block quote, but it’s a good one.)
“[L]ast week some of you asked about [Collins] regarding a depth chart, and I'm always going to protect the player. I think for those of you who know me, that's not going to change. At that time, I knew there was an issue with the league. I didn't know if it was going to be resolved to his side or away. And I didn't know if that would take place in July, August, or September. So [general manager] Thomas [Dimitroff] and myself, we made the decision to move him [down the depth chart] until we had further clarity on that, and then we could make the best decision. So in that essence, we were protecting the team."
In short, Quinn didn’t throw Collins under the bus. He deliberately kept everything quiet. Maybe he was waiting until the league finalized everything. Maybe they weren’t allowed to say anything. But from Quinn’s standpoint, this was his choice, made after consulting with general manager Thomas Dimitroff. He made the call.
Why is this important? One word: loyalty. Quinn put his team and its most troubled player first in this situation. It’d have been easy for him to immediately distance himself from Collins or keep him off the practice field altogether. But he didn’t. That approach could arguably backfire under the wrong circumstances, but that’s their plan and they’re sticking to it. To me that speaks volumes about Quinn and how we can expect him to handle internal strife going forward.