A great deal has happened with our hometown Atlanta Falcons in the last few weeks. The team has fired and hired a head coach, they have shuffled their personnel staff, and not to mention in an outstanding move Sports Radio 92.9 The Game is now the Falcons Flagship Station. No one associated with the franchise, past or present could have envisioned a scenario at the beginning of the 2014 campaign that the Atlanta Falcons would end the season with a record of 6-10. So now that some moves have been made, how will our Falcons fly forward?
Dan Quinn, former Defensive Coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks, is now the Atlanta Falcons Head Football Coach. Thomas Dimitroff is still the General Manager but Assistant General Manager Scott Pioli will now take an extended role in player selection. The redefining of roles is nothing new within the Falcon Franchise, especially under Arthur Blank’s tenure as Owner. Despite all the moves being made, how will this transition into more wins and championships for the Atlanta Falcons?
The Atlanta Falcons over the past seven years have created a culture of winning and consistency. This can be directly correlated to Former Head Coach Mike Smith, Dimitroff, and Quarterback Matt Ryan but it has not translated into SuperBowl wins or for that matter much playoff success, only having one playoff victory. With a sharp decline over the past two seasons, change was inevitable but what could be implemented to take this squad to the next level?
Dan Quinn, has an extensive coaching background that stretches through the collegiate and professional ranks. Statistical data has proven his effectiveness on the defensive side of the ball. The Atlanta Falcons could stand to benefit from a defensive philosophical change. This is no implication that Mike Smith and former Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan could not coach, but the mark of a defense is results, and they for whatever reason did not produce.
Quinn, won the press conference with his energy, enthusiasm, and message. He obviously wants to do well for this franchise and this city but how will he and his staff go about doing that? In the National Football League, all players have ability but when ability does not mesh with philosophy you have a train wreck. Judging from Quinn’s experiences and former teams, he wants an attacking style of defense that is relentless in the pursuit of the football. Using the system he coordinated in Seattle, finding players that can man their gaps in the run game and pressure from the defensive ends are a must so that everyone has a responsibility and that extra personnel is not required for defending the pass.
This philosophy is not much different from any NFL defense however blending philosophy and personnel is a must. He is coming from a system in Seattle where General Manager and Head Coach blended perfectly to implement a system, getting the correct personnel to carry out the system through the draft, and obtaining established players through free agency to accent the system. It has been absolutely brilliant and has worked to perfection in the Pacific Northwest.
The meeting of the minds of Quinn, Pioli, and Dimitroff is imperative for this to happen but not just on the defensive side of the ball but the offensive side as well. New Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan has been brought in to lead this Matt Ryan led attack. Shanahan has been around the NFL for a long time and being a product of his father Mike’s philosophy will incorporate the zone blocking scheme, establishing the run first, and timely play action down field passing. The zone blocking scheme is nothing new to the Atlanta Falcons as some of the greatest running attacks for the franchise were obtained under that philosophy.
Matt Ryan has been the greatest quarterback in Atlanta Falcons History. His passing numbers have soared to astronomical heights, however when the offensive systems were balanced Ryan was at his greatest, especially with former runningback Michael Turner. The “need” for explosion took the offense away from this balance and now the lack of quality personnel especially in the “trenches” led to the demise of the team. Getting back to a 60/40 pass-run attack should be the focal point of this offense and under Shanahan I believe it will. In our next blog we will analyze where the Atlanta Falcons should go from and X’s and O’s standpoint to fix the team.
Jamie Walker is a Producer and Blogger for Sports Radio 92.9 The Game Atlanta. You can follow him on Twitter @coachjdub21 or through email at Jamie.Walker@cbsradio.com.