Should Atlanta Falcon’s Head Coach Dan Quinn be getting more credit?
Admit it Atlanta Falcon’s fans, when the Atlanta Falcons name Keanu Neal was called with the 17th overall pick in the 2016 National Football League Draft, you were a bit confuse. After all, Mr. Neal, was someone Florida Gator fans knew well, graded out by the experts as a 2nd Round pick. Why the reach? Then came the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th picks that included a back-up at LSU, another Tight End, and a Linebacker from the University of Minnesota …not usually seen as a hotbed for Defense.
Yet, here we are. The Atlanta Falcons are 10-5 going into week 17 with a chance to sweep arch-nemesis New Orleans, and secure the 2 seed, and a 1st round bye in the NFC Playoffs. This…a year after a collapse that Jean van de Velde would’ve turned away from watching. Dann Quinn, ladies and gentlemen, is the reason.
Upon Coach Q’s arrival in the ATL, the Atlanta Falcons, as a franchise, was reeling. A heartbreaking home loss in the 2012-2013 NFC Championship game, though infused with dreams of things to come from fans, gave way to 2013 and 2014 seasons that mirrored 1988…rather than anything fans had hoped for in the 21st century. Mike Smith, a coach to be lauded for sure, one who ranks as one of the best in franchise history for righting the ship, as it were, after the Bobby Petrino debacle, was let go… and rightfully so. The defense was in shambles, the running game was non-existent, and injuries were everywhere. A quick and dramatic collapse of something that seemed built to last just a few short months before.
Enter Coach Quinn and company. Blazing from the gates…like a Falcon from the flames…The Atlanta Falcons screeched to a 5-0 start in 2015…only to be reminded that change is slow…and determined…and that the NFL is full of the baddest men on the planet. You don’t just correct quickly against that. Coaches seemed bewildered. Fans were anxious. Mr. Arthur Blank, owner of the team, was not happy. But nobody in Flowery Branch panicked. They bought in, kept working, bought in, and looked to 2016.
Fast forward to December of 2016, and the aforementioned Keanu Neal, along with his “rookies in crime” Deion Jones, De’Vondre Campbell, Austin Hooper, and Brian Poole and you see a team poised and perched to swoop and make noise. All are integral to this NFC South Division Champion team…and all were picked by Coach Quinn and his staff.
Naturally, there are other reasons to like the future of this Falcons team Julio, Matty Ice, Devonta Freeman, Truffant, Vic Beasley, and many others but, what this current regime in Atlanta did with their first ever NFL draft together and with Free Agency pick-ups like Freeney, Sanu, and Mack…was special. The Atlanta Falcons may not win everything this year. They may not win everything next year. But think back to 2012 this isn’t that this is a new regime that is here to stay and it’s time to give Coach Dann Quinn his due.