In case you missed the flurry of flags in every game the Falcons have played this season, I regret to inform you that Atlanta is tied with the Browns for the most penalties in the National Football League so far this season. Dan Quinn has a plan to correct that.
Instead of having just three officials at practice, the Falcons had a full crew of seven refs to help players recognize how to avoid those costly penalties.
“As far as penalties, there’s usually some targeted players that you’re really trying to get their attention. Like most things, it’s not a team-wide issue,” Quinn said Wednesday. “Whether it’s how many ever, in this case, for me, it’s probably somewhere between six and seven guys that I’m really trying to dial in on and have an extra set of eyes to help and to teach. That’s really the emphasis of having the extra officials here, another set of eyes just on that from the coaching side.
“Whether I’m looking at the scheme or the technique, I want to make sure there’s another set of eyes only watching the player if there’s a foul or not. For me, it’s more of a teaching emphasis. I don’t know how long I’ll do it for, but I wanted to get it started because when you have a problem, you better address it. The current way we addressed it wasn’t getting fixed to my standards that I’d like it to be, so we’re going to take it further.”
Quinn also said that he didn’t think the penalties were exacerbated by the team’s slow starts so far this season.
“I don’t think that’s the case, because it hadn’t been in one part of the game where we were ahead or behind. Definitely, it usually comes from pressing,” he said. “You want it so badly, to do it and get it right. Some of it comes where it’s technique. What’s being called differently? Let’s adjust to that. There’s been some emphasis from the league. We need to adjust. ... We’ve added some accountability and some in-house discipline, so to speak, regarding the penalties. That’s how we’ll go after it, this is as clearly as we could.”
So what are the officials looking for?
“Playing in their normal positions, whether is a side judge, line judge or umpire, to make sure, if there’s anything that they see as they’re calling the game, I want it called and emphasized, just so a player doesn’t practice any bad habits or techniques that a referee could see,” Quinn said.
The team also emphasized this week that the Falcons have one opponent each week, and there’s one team that’s definitely missing from the schedule: the Falcons.
“I told the team today in our meeting, ‘Fight only one team.’ I put the schedule up and basically said, ‘Who is not up there?’ and it was obviously us,” Quinn said. “I said, Let’s make sure we’re only fighting one team. No more self-inflicted wounds that derail us. Get our football right, exactly like we want, so on Sunday, we’re fighting the opponent. In this case, Tennessee, and only Tennessee.”
The Falcons do need to clean up the penalties and play more consistent football. Here’s hoping that adding more referees to practice does the trick.