What Dan Quinn had to say after win over Panthers 


Here’s what Falcons coach Dan Quinn had to say after the 22-10 win over the Panthers on Sunday in the regular-season finale:

Opening Statement: “What a great night here in our house. We challenged everybody to start New Year’s Eve early inside the stadium, and we felt our fans right from the beginning, so that was awesome. We felt their energy. We wanted to make sure as a team we gave that Falcon energy back to them. Earlier in the week we talked about prove-it opportunities are sometimes the most memorable, and we certainly felt like we were in that spot to make sure we could do that. A couple guys really stuck out to me today, Alex Mack, the guy has got the blood of a warrior. For him to come back and play, I don’t think he missed a snap, where early in the week we didn’t know where it would go. Matt Bryant coming through and delivering some monster kicks at the end, over 50 yards, and then probably the last two things, we’ve been talking about the ball. You probably get tired of hearing me discuss that, but we knew in a division game this was going to be the factor. So for us to take care of it and finish plus three, that was the factor. The team, the team, the team; that’s what I thought of today in all three phases, their involvement, tough, physical game, exactly like we expected. This division is tough, and it’s a battle for it, and we certainly knew it would be a good fight from Carolina, and it was. Glad to open it up for questions regarding the game.”

On Matt Bryant: “He’s such a competitor, and we really rely and count on him. The reason we have so much trust is because everybody sees the way he prepares, they see the way he trains, and he delivers. So we’ve got all the faith and confidence when those windows open up within his wheelhouse, we’re going to give him every opportunity because that’s a part of his game that is not too big. He’s ready to always attack and play. Part of being a really successful kicker is having mental toughness, and he’s got that in abundance.”

On the defense’s performance as a unit: “We thought going in, and we challenged the guys that tackling was really going to be on point in this game. Not just from the quarterback but the running backs, receivers and tight ends. They’ve got a full complement of guys, so they make you go through the whole process, Carolina does. They’ve got a big package with lots of versatility, how they feature the guys, use them, tight ends, running backs, quarterback runs. The challenge was there for the D, and it was certainly one that I felt was one of their better performances this year. Toughness, finishing, battling for one another. The communication was on point, and we certainly appreciated the fans’ involvement on third down, as well.”

On how it felt for the secondary to create turnovers: “It felt great, and I thought outside, (Desmond) Trufant and (Robert) Alford really played a strong game. They challenged and played at the line. I don’t know how many pass breakups they had, but it certainly felt like all three groups, the front, the linebackers, the secondary, the communication was really good. But we knew we’d keep harping and digging to play and attack the ball. Some opportunities would be there, and that was certainly the difference tonight.”

On how he would grade the offense’s red zone play: “How would I grade them? I’ll have a better assessment of that tomorrow when I go through. What I liked was that we came away with points. We always want to score touchdowns, but I’ll have a better assessment of that for you tomorrow in terms of a grade for it. My grade for tonight as a team is an A because these guys are tough as hell, they love one another, and they’re ready to battle. Past that, I couldn’t be more excited for the group.”

On returning to the playoffs again this season: “Well, coming into this season, we had talked quite a bit about how difficult the NFC south would be. I didn’t think anybody would go all the way through and not have a chance to go undefeated through it, and it certainly played out that way. As a group, this toughness, this brotherhood that they have, it’s alive, it’s real, and they’ve got stuff to prove. But once we’re in, it’s just for this week. I’ve heard just that we’re going to play out at Los Angeles, and that’s the fight that we’re in, that’s the fight that matters, and we’ll be completely, 100 percent ready to ball.”

On Deion Jones having a bright future: “I think there will be plenty of (Pro Bowl selections) in his future. He’s a real emerging player in this league, and just so happened I’m sure the guys on this year’s ballot, even in this own division, he’s got guys to battle with. But I think that’s definitely going to be something in his future, but nothing that we’d discuss at this time.”

On the sack before Matt Bryant’s field goal and sending him in to kick: “Well, I didn’t like the sack prior to it, I can tell you that. I didn’t hesitate knowing where it was. Those ones, it’s better to make your decision and not look back. So I knew where we were. I knew what the yard line that we had kind of said that was going to be the spot for us. When it was in that range, we give him the green light.”

On maintaining consistent preparation each week: “We go through each week, and we almost do it in an identical fashion in terms of the preparation. And what that does for a player, it really allows them to be consistent all the way through. On our first day of the preparation, we really make a big emphasis in our base package and our two-minute stuff, and then we go into third down. When the guys come in, the only thing we want is just to nail that day. We don’t even think all the way down to the game, just that preparation, that mindset to go. We know what that process looks like. It doesn’t change when the postseason comes. In fact, we stay really dedicated to that. This week we had championship game preparation, the team did. The communication amongst the players, it was there, and we’ll call on that type of preparation again. But it won’t be different, and they know that.”

On the importance of winning this game before the postseason: “I think it’s really important because you never want to rely on anyone else. When you allow yourself to be the judge of how things are going to go down, it’s much more valuable. And then once you get in, it’s just all the focus and attention on that team that you’re playing, that opponent, that matchup, and we really don’t look past that.”


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