Atlanta Falcons get back to work
FLOWERY BRANCH — Dan Quinn hasn’t shown the Super Bowl ring to his Atlanta Falcons players.
He earned it as the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive coordinator just three years ago in Super Bowl XLVIII, a 43-8 demolition of the favored Denver Broncos. Despite the accomplishment, Quinn hasn’t flaunted the ring since taking over as Atlanta’s coach in 2015.
“That was from a different spot,” he said during a Monday news conference. “It’s now this group going through this trip together.”
Though Quinn has kept the hardware hidden from his players, it’s emblematic of his valuable experience as the Falcons seek their first Super Bowl title.
Atlanta will clash with the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI on Feb. 5 at NRG Stadium in Houston, just the franchise’s second trip to the NFL championship game. Quinn has been as many times — Seattle’s hopes to repeat as league champs were dashed in a dramatic 28-24 loss to those very same Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX.
“I’ve gone when it’s gone well, and I’ve been a part of it when it hasn’t,” Quinn said. “I just want to kind of outline the keys to plan well in the game and managing some of the things on the outside. That’s part of the process.
“I can help share that with the guys and make sure of what we do, when we do it and how we do it. All of that matters.”
Quinn’s Super Bowl experience will certainly benefit the Falcons (13-5), but any team would be outmatched in that department against New England (16-2).
The Patriots are headed to their ninth Super Bowl after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-17 in Sunday’s AFC championship game. Seven of those appearances — four of which ended in victories — have occurred since 2001, the most recent one being New England’s win against Quinn and the Seahawks in 2015.
Despite Quinn’s claim that he hasn’t done enough scouting to tell if this Patriots team is different from the one he faced two years ago, he’s well aware of what its offense is capable of with three-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady at quarterback.
“They’re difficult to defend. They use a variety of different formations and personnel groups,” he said. “ … I would say it’s an offense that’s well-versed. They have different ways to attack you.”
Atlanta on Sunday proved it’s up for that kind of task.
The Falcons ended the Green Bay Packers’ eight-game winning streak with a convincing 44-21 victory in the NFC championship game, the final contest in the Georgia Dome. Aaron Rodgers, a Super Bowl MVP as well, was under consistent pressure and never established much rhythm with his receivers.
Atlanta will likely try to employ the same formula against Brady, who alongside coach Bill Belichick has developed the Patriots’ dynasty. Quinn said he won’t have to speak with his players — a young and upstart bunch by comparison — about ignoring New England’s brand.
“It’s not something that we talk about on a regular basis with them or with any other opponent,” Quinn said.
The coach insisted Atlanta will stick to its usual “process,” a word he frequently used during his news conference. Quinn said he’ll run a normal practice week until the team departs for Houston on Sunday, but the week leading up to the Super Bowl will be different due to media obligations and various fan events.
Quinn used the team’s first-round playoff bye to plan a potential Super Bowl trip, he said, drawing on his experiences with Seattle as a template. His understanding of the situation will be a boon for the Falcons before and during the game, as evidenced by his Super Bowl ring.
That he has just one to Brady’s four and Belichick’s six is of no concern to Quinn.
“It’s not like we’re going to make up (the experience gap) in two weeks,” Quinn quipped. “So for us, we totally trust this process that we go through to get ready.”