Dan Quinn became part of franchise history after Sunday’s win over the New York Giants. Quinn became just the second coach in the Atlanta Falcons’ franchise history to win his first two games as a head coach. Atlanta fans have to be more than pleased, as there is a different feeling around the Falcons’ headquarters that is starting to spread around the city like wildfire. The Falcons are back, and there is one man in particular to thank for that.
In a winner-takes-all game at home in last season’s season finale, the Falcons came out with a lifeless performance. The 34-3 defeat left the whole city knowing something needed to change. It was not long before Mike Smith was officially fired as the head man. When Quinn was hired the Falcons knew what they were getting. Quinn is a defensive guru that has shown he can coach at all levels. He coached the defense for the Florida Gators in the 2011-2012 seasons, and the group was one of the best in the NCAA. He took the Seattle defensive coordinator job in 2013 and went right back to doing what he does best. The Seahawks led the NFL in about every defensive category under Quinn and will go down as one of the best defensive units of all-time. All of Quinn’s defenses have featured a certain physicality and toughness to them, like every yard, first down and point will be earned. From the moment Quinn stepped in as the Falcons head coach, he stated the defense will be “fast and physical”.
Last season the Falcons severely lacked talent at almost every defensive position. With Quinn having a large say in personnel decisions, the Falcons spent most of their resources this offseason on the defensive side of the ball. Brooks Reed, Adrian Clayborn, and Justin Durant were just some of many defensive free agent acquisitions. Defensive end Vic Beasley was drafted with the Falcons’ number 8 overall pick. However, even with the additions, Atlanta does not have the most talented unit in the NFL. In fact, they are far from it, yet they are showcasing that famous physicality of a Dan Quinn defense, and that is making all the difference.
From the opening whistle of week 1 the Falcons defense has gotten after it. They punched the Eagles in the mouth in the first half, then after struggling through the majority of the second half, came up with the big stops necessary at the end of the game. The Giants were able to find success in the second and third quarters of week 2, but the Falcons defense was able to hang tough and show their grit in the fourth quarter. Kroy Biermann’s sack fumble to stop the Giants from increasing their 10-point lead was the turning point in the game, and was a play Atlanta fans would have never seen last season. The defense continued to hold for the rest of the game and Atlanta improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2012.
Before the season, I said that under Quinn the days of letting Brian Hoyer and Geno Smith lead game winning drives on the last possession are over.The first two weeks have proven that. Like Tom Coughlin said, “The NFL is a 4th quarter league.” The Falcons defense has been much improved and most importantly held up in the 4th quarter. With Matty Ice under center, if the defense can continue to perform this well at the end of the games, it is going to be a great season for Atlanta.