Quinn lays out plan to bring winner to Falcons

Published 7:00 pm Monday, February 9, 2015

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Two days after a startling Super Bowl loss, Dan Quinn set off to a new start with the Atlanta Falcons.

It happened quickly. The former Seattle defensive coordinator was introduced as the team’s coach Tuesday, a day after he was hired and less than 48 hours after a Super Bowl loss to New England.

Quinn beamed as he discussed plans for the Falcons. But he was still trying to process the Patriots’ 28-24 win, sealed when Malcolm Butler intercepted a pass at the goal line with 20 seconds left.

“For me it was such an emotional time in the game,” Quinn said. “So I didn’t really have time to put it into a place you would want it to get to.”

Surely, Quinn would like to put it in the past.

“I can’t wait to build a similar championship environment here in Atlanta,” Quinn said. “There are all sorts of challenges ahead, lots of hard work to do. I can’t wait to get started.”

Quinn’s defenses helped lead Seattle to two straight Super Bowls. The Seahawks beat Denver to win last year’s championship.

The new coach is looking for defense that plays “fast and physical” and an offense with balance. Falcons owner Arthur Blank said he chose Quinn “to provide leadership in all three phases of the game and add additional leadership in the building of our franchise.”

Quinn, 44, replaces Mike Smith, who was fired following two straight losing seasons.

Quinn’s coaching staff will include offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator Richard Smith. Shanahan had the same job with the Cleveland Browns last year after four seasons directing the Washington Redskins’ offense.

“The way he can attack an offense, he’s one of the hardest guys to coach against when you’re coaching defense,” Quinn said.

Smith was Denver’s linebackers coach the past four years. Quinn will have a prominent role in shaping the defense.

“My kind of guy is somebody who plays fast and physical,” Quinn said. “That style starts with effort first. That’s where we’ll start. There are a number of guys already here who are going to be a part of it.”

Quinn, in his first head coaching job, takes over a team led by quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White. The running game has struggled with Steven Jackson and a rebuilt offensive line. The strength of the defense is a secondary led by cornerback Desmond Trufant and safety William Moore.

Quinn may have to seek new answers for a weak pass rush. The Falcons were a combined 10-22 past two years, and allowed the most total yards and yards passing in the league in 2014.

On offense, Quinn said “for me, the number one thing is balance. … I’ve always admired teams that had tough, physical styles.”

Quinn’s staff also will include Raheem Morris as assistant head coach/defensive passing game coordinator. Keith Armstrong returns as the special teams coordinator. Armstrong interviewed for the head coach job.

Also retained from the 2014 Falcons staff: defensive line coach Bryan Cox, tight ends coach Wade Harman, wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie, and assistant special teams coach Eric Sutulovich.

Other additions include running backs coach Bobby Turner and offensive assistant Mike LaFleur.

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said he hopes Quinn and his staff can help the defensive players reach their potential.

“I think the idea of allowing this football team and this defense specifically to play fast, to eliminate some of the sort of over-analyzing and let these players be the athletes they can be is going to be very important for us,” Dimitroff said.

Smith had a 66-46 regular-season record in seven seasons, including two NFC South titles.