Quinn focused on improving defense

How will Dan Quinn fix the Falcons defense? He already has some ideas.

We’ve heard all about Dan Quinn’s different tackling style for his defense. Tuesday as he was introduced as the 16th head coach in Falcons history, he was able to talk about it himself.

“One of our goals here is we are going to try to be the best fundamental team in football,” Quinn explained. “That is a real challenge and tackling and our ability to go after the ball and take care of it on offense, those are going to be some of the core tenants that we will talk about. The rugby tackling really involves shoulder tackling. It’s a leverage tackling principle, so for us, not only is it safer but it’s more effective for us to do that. Rugby has used shoulder tackling for years and about two years ago when we were trying to take the head [hits] out of the game some people said ‘well it may not be as physical’ and we said that’s absolutely not going to be the case. Just like a pitcher throws fastballs in the strike zone we are going to try to hit people absolutely as hard as we can in the strike zone. That shoulder tackling, the physical nature can still come through for sure.”

Okay, that’s simple enough, right? Quinn was very clear in his defensive philosophy, regardless of how the players tackle.

“It starts with effort first. That’s always the thing that we will talk about right at the forefront of it. From our effort and the way we attack, the style that we will play will come from that. We want to be really aggressive in terms of the way we attack the football. Those two things, in terms of our effort and the way we attack the ball will always be at the front of our conversations. Past that, we want to play as fast and as physical as we can. For us to play that style we won’t have 1,000 different defenses. What we will do, is not necessarily what we play, it’s how we play it. That style will be real clear and will come across in terms of style and the attitude that we play with. We will try to best feature the players that we have. That’s one of the things I’m looking forward to getting started with now is to better learn these guys here so we can best feature them in the best way.”

Quinn has not decided if he will call defensive plays or leave that to his new defensive coordinator, Richard Smith. But obviously with his defensive background, he will be heavily involved in the process. That will include helping select his style of players, whether that is someone already on the roster or someone the team will target in free agency or the draft.

“My kind of guy is someone who plays fast and physical,” Quinn said. “That style and attitude starts with effort first. There are some terrific guys here that I can’t wait to connect with. Playing good defensive football starts with a mindset and attitude first. That’s where we will start and there are a number of guys who are already here that will be a big part of what we do moving forward.”

One of Atlanta’s biggest issues the last few years has been the lack of a pass rush. Quinn was asked about how the Falcons can improve, particularly with more sacks on the quarterback.

“The biggest thing for us is affecting the quarterback,” he said. “That may be hits on him, the times we can move him off of the spot. Third-down sacks are critical one because that is getting off of the field, but for us the biggest thing is going to be affecting the quarterback, maybe by the way we rush, maybe by the way we pressure, maybe by the way we cover or a combination of all of those, but affecting him is the number one thing.

And what kind of player can create that impact on the quarterback? In Quinn’s mind, versatile players.

“Versatility is going to be a really big component of our guys who play linebacker and play defensive line,” Quinn said. “That versatility to play more than one spot allows you the flexibility to add pass rushers to your team and also when injuries occur, which they are going to happen in this game, now that versatility allows you to play different guys at different spots. When a guy goes down, the next guy up has already played that position. We’ll start with versatility and the more guys can do. We’d rather start that way early and find out what he can do and keep giving him more if he can handle it. Then we know we have a guy that has that versatility.”

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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