Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
What can you say about the way Deion Jones has played as a rookie this season?
"We saw his speed when he was coming out of LSU and I remember going down and getting time with him at the workout and I thought he would be such a unique player for our team. Here's what I'm most pumped about, I'd say over the last five weeks he has really found his voice and that allows other people around you to play faster. At that mike linebacker spot for us we put a lot of communication on him and it's not always the easiest job as a rookie. Not only to get your world in order and your assignment, but to help out and call the alerts for the other guys. We knew it would take some time for him and for the other guys to find their groove, but the run and hit factor for Deion is totally something to like. I really think over the last five weeks he's gotten better and better. We're really excited about where he's come from. I know you guys have seen him play for a while and for us it's been a cool process to see him grow in our defense and in our system."
What looks different about the Saints defense since the last time you played them?
"I can say a number of things. One, I think it's a team that's given up very few explosive plays so they just look really fundamentally sound. There's not a lot of space and plays to be made and then I thought their tackling looked really good in space, ball checkdowns, not a lot of missed opportunities and guys just really playing physical. (It) Looks like (Paul) Kruger is now (playing) some at (line)backer, some at defensive end. I would say they are less multiple it would look like on tape, but I think their fundamentals, their tackling, ballhawking, that part looks really, really strong right now."
What would you say are the keys to Vic Beasley's development from year one to year two?
"Yeah it's a good topic and you guys know this too just as pass rushers. You definitely learn that not all guys are the same, not all pass sets are the same. That was a learning process going through that last year. This tackle is different from this tackle and then I would say the real jump that he made was in training camp this year knowing the counters that he would want to use. He really applied himself in that way. One guy who's helped his game get to another spot has been Dwight Freeney and maybe the quiet conversations you may look at this and by studying Dwight (Freeney) and how he prepares the little things that he looks at on tape to help get an edge. That made a real difference and it became because of a teammate saying it. That connection between being brother to brother so to speak has been significant. He always had the speed and now that he has some counters and is able to work the stunt packages better that's made his game really come to life."
What do you think has made your combination of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman so effective?
"They definitely balance each other out. We don't really have a pitch count for either one of them, but I would say this they're much like the guys that you cover there. They are effective out of the backfield as well. I think Freeman if you put him at slot receiver you'd feel comfortable with him there. (Freeman) He has those kinds of hands to get out of the backfield and understand leverage and try and break guys off. Both of them have a real understanding of how we go about it in the run game. How they setup blocks and how we make our cuts and try to get vertical. The best part about their connection is their spirits between one another and last week Coleman had a big third down conversion and the guy who was most excited for him on the whole team was Freeman and that's exactly the connection that I hoped they'd have. They are a duo in terms of the way they attack. By playing both of them its allowed both of them to be really fresh all the way through the year and I think both of them are really feeling their strengths right now, but I think that connection that they have where they're not carrying it the entire time or catching it the entire time has been a real factor."
How would you describe what kind of running back Mark Ingram is now?
"Yeah he is one that we have certainly highlighted in our meeting rooms. You better have your tackling plan right and it looks to me that the drive to run through tackles and keep his legs going on contact is just as good as you could hope for and I think that is what happened. There might be a play that might get blocked for five (yards) and he ends up getting 10 and his strength on contact. I've been very impressed by him and when you saw those numbers very few guys have over a five-yard average in our league and we all know how difficult that can be. It shows you that he's not just short runs and moving the chains. To have that kind of average you have the explosive runs and for us and for our defense heading into this game he's somebody that's certainly earned our respect, but I think it's the physicality that he's running the ball with that makes him stand out right now."
When you look at Michael Thomas, why do you think he has been so effective as a rookie?
"He has really come on. I think it is a combination of having his size, and then for a big guy, he has change of direction ability. Oftentimes we assimilate change of direction with a smaller guy who can change, but like Julio (Jones) on our team and Mo (Mohamed Sanu), we have a couple of big guys that can stick their foot in the ground and change direction. At receiver, that is a totally critical thing because not all of the routes are down the field. His yards after catch on some of the underneath throws have been really good. I think it also speaks to his football smarts to come in and be this significant of a contributor to a very explosive offense. (It) speaks a lot to how hard he has worked at it. I'd say that that's the thing for a big guy – not only can he get vertical but he can break guys off in man-to-man."
How tough is it to gameplan, defensively, against this offense?
"Probably what makes it so difficult is that everyone flies. Sometimes you'll have a team and you match up. You're going to say let's make sure this guy we take care of and let's give special attention to so and so. Through the years, I just made this comment to our local media, will this be 10 years that Drew (Brees) has been there with Sean (Payton)? That's an amazing stat to have, to have I do not know how many reps they have together in practice and in games. You can see why the execution is so good where they go. To me, I think the fact that everyone gets involved – the run game is on point with Mark (Ingram), the way they use the screen I have always been impressed with through the years. Tight ends have been a factor. The running backs forever, when you count up all of their catches, have always been an important part of it. When you add the receivers to it, it just leads to this explosive offense with accumulation of people. What made it so difficult then and what makes it so difficult now is the amount of players that get involved on a weekly basis in their offense."
How much of that is because of coaching or because of Drew's ability to make the right reads?
"I'd say it is definitely a product of both. There are probably a number of us that would consider Drew as a hell of a coach if he wanted to be. He has a very clear understanding of where to go with the ball. The anticipation, I want this coverage and I want to go here against this route or I like this matchup – those are the things that come with the 10 or 11 years of experience. It is pretty rare in our day and age to get a quarterback and head coach that are together for 11 years. I think that is quite a story that we don't all talk about on a national level very often. I don't know how often that happens but it'd seem to me, and I'm totally guessing, that it's pretty rare. I think it's a pretty cool topic and one that I had not put together until I was talking to our guys today. I think if you put the amount of reps in a system that you can have – think about the old Bruce Lee line, "don't worry about the man with 10,000 kicks, worry about the man who has one kick 10,000 times." I'd say over 10 or 11 years that is a hell of a lot of kicks."
Did you ever think you'd see the day where someone would throw for 5,000 yards five different times (like Drew Brees is on the verge of doing this season)?
"The fact that he's in our division, that definitely brings it more to light. The quarterbacks in this division are just fantastic. They are all unique and all different. The way that Drew (Brees) and their offense and let's give credit to everyone there, the way they are able to move the ball, it's really impressive. It's not just for one year. They have been doing it for a long time. That is not easy to do to have that kind of success over and over. There is a lot of work that goes into that. We definitely tip our hat to them and know how hard they work at it."
Does this being the last regular season game in the Georgia Dome have any significance to you? What are you looking forward to with the move next season?
"In 25 years of the dome, there's been a lot of good football. I think the cool part for me as the coach here is the connection with the fans here. Much like you guys and where we are located, football is so important in our community, just like it is for you guys. Being a part of that is a cool feeling. We get this one here and then past that we don't know how many. We're sure hoping that it is going to be a loud one here Sunday."
What have you liked about that stadium? Is there anything that sticks out about that venue?
"Not as much the venue as it is the people. Knowing that you are part of a city and the connection that we have here. Being a part of it is a rewarding feeling. Being in a football community is really rewarding. Past that, just the experience and taking the trip with everybody on game day, being a part of it and feeling the energy that they bring to our team, and then our team back to them, that's a really cool thing for me to be a part of in the short time."