Here’s what Falcons coach Dan Quinn had to say at the scouting combine on Wednesday:
OPENING STATEMENT: “Glad to be with you guys today as we’re starting this week. It’s kind of a great chance for us to kind of set the course for our offseason in a lot of respects. We are excited that we added some coaches to our team. Offensively, we added a quarterback coach in Greg Knapp. Who has had terrific experience with quarterbacks in our league over the years. We also added Bernie Parmalee to coach our running backs. We are excited about the addition of those two. You’ll get a chance to meet them after going through things this spring. This, today, is another way to strengthen our team. Being here at the combine is a big part of that. (General manager) Thomas and I are now going into our fourth year together. We have a really clear vision of how to feature the guys in the very best way. So, for me, this interview portion is such a big part of this week. We’ve already established a number of the spots and the area of needs as we are going through. I’m pretty sure that he’s going to be addressing you guys later today on some issues regarding free agency and cap guys to talk about. I will defer to him on those topics. I’m more than glad to open it up to you guys regarding the team, the combine as we get started here. We are really pumped for this week.”
How will coach Greg Knapp and Bernie Parmalee will work to help offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian? “For sure, these guys…I want to start with Bernie first. At that spot, we really love to feature our running backs. Not just in the run game, but in the passing game. Bernie has experience both playing and coaching at the position was a real factor for us. We went through a big list of guys to see who would be the best fit for us. We met with him offensively, with the defensive guys and even the special teams guys met with him. He’s been a terrific fit for us. We are excited about what he can bring to our offense. He’s got great diversity and (knows) different styles. We expect him to have a role on (special) teams as well. That was a big part of his career as well. We are excited to have him.
“Then as far as Greg Knapp goes. We were really challenged to find the best fit for us, the best fit for Matt (Ryan) and for Sark. …Greg has a terrific background from Houston, Atlanta with (backup quarterback Matt) Schaub, being in Denver and working with Peyton (Manning) in that system. He has a lot of experience in the system that we run. That came from Houston, Gary (Kubiak) and Kyle (Shanahan) and into our system as well. So, some of that cross over has been really good for him. He’s had fresh eyes on our seasons over the last couple of years. He’s watched all of the games, all of the tape. This part of the offseason, now is the time that we audit. What can we change around and who’s responsibilities will be different in different parts of the game plan.
“We are very excited to add those two guys to our staff. We have some very talented guys and we are going to try to feature them in the very best way for the players.”
Can you the Falcons add some more power to the offense to help with short yardage situations? “Yes, when you count the third-and-1s, the fourth-and-1s some of the time, even in the low red zone in some areas. We are going to run it. They know we are going to run it and we are going to do it anyway. Those kind of moments are important. Got to have plays. As we go through it, some of it is scheme, and we’ll for sure look into that and to add to the mix on some guys who would almost have a unique role just for that. We are looking into every option for that. That goes all the way back to Bill Walsh kind of telling me that story ‘what role would this player have on your team?’ He might be a short-yardage fullback. From years ago, 17 or 18 years ago, I remember that message from Bill about the uniqueness a player can have and featuring him in that role. When you used the term “Power,” I know where you’re coming from. Is there other guys that we can put in unique spots to make plays. Do you have speed receiver you can take a shot to? Is there pass rusher that you can put into a specific sport on third down. Those are all part of our job as coaches to find those guys and put them in the best spot. You know us and we like versatility. If a guy can do more that one job, that’s a really important quality to have for the team.”
On if he’s had a chance to look at the defensive tackles in the draft: “I’ve had a chance to look at a few. It’s definitely a group from what our staff tells us, is one that has depth and have a lot of the traits that we are looking for. At defensive line you better have enough initial quickness to beat a guy to the punch. The defensive tackles, the big guys that have that kind of initial quickness are difficult to block. I can’t wait to see this group. All I want to see this week is the athleticism. Don’t fall in love with anybody here this week unless you’ve watched the tape. That’s a big part of it. One of the things that I do appreciate about here at the combine is to find out more about he player. Their background. Their accountability. Will they fit in well with our group, our brotherhood. We are real excited to meet to visit with a number of those guys, the big guys especially.”
On if he thinks Austin Hooper can play a high-snap count like a Zach Ertz or a Travis Kelce: “Yeah, I think that would be putting the cart before the horse. We are really pumped about what Austin can do. He played a good snap count this year with, I believe 49 catches. He’s got athleticism. He’s a good matchup getting onto safeties and (linebackers). Kind of the fun part about being one of the people feature in our offense. There are a number of guys who are real weapons. If you’re going to make sure that coverage goes to Julio or you are going to try to special coverage over to (Mohamed Sanu) on third down or on Devonta (Freeman) or Tevin (Coleman) as a running back. It’s like there is ah-hay moment. There is another player (Hooper) that you have to matchup. That’s what we are hopeful that we help Hoop get to that spot. We are very excited about what he can be. That will be a big challenge for him this offseason, to be the best player that and the best vision and version of himself.”
On moving Vic Beasley to linebacker in 2017; “We played probably in our defense close to 70 percent in nickel. In our nickel defenses Vic was a defensive end. …in our base base packages which we played 30 percent of the time he played linebacker. He had always been our backup linebacker at that spot. We really featured him in the nickel package and we will always continue to do so. We felt the best thing for us would be to playing him at both places, linebacker and the nickel defensive end. We are going to go back to what he does best. At the time, we needed to use him in that roll. But we’ll feature him as a (defensive) end all the time in 2018.”