Falcons Succeed in All 3 Phases
Head coach Dan Quinn is pleased with the well-rounded effort his team gave on Sunday. On offense, Quinn praised the work of Taylor Gabriel, who scored two touchdowns off a pair of screen passes, and the blockers who made those highlights possible. He liked the way his defense attacked at the line of scrimmage, and on special teams, he lauded Matt Wile, whom Atlanta signed last week, for his punting and kickoff success. The University of Michigan product booted punts of 57 and 59 yards; all seven of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks.
"Yesterday, as a recap, really all three phases got involved in this game," Quinn said. "Those are the types of days that I enjoy talking about as a coach."
Quinn Addresses Neal Hit
With 5:24 left in the fourth quarter, officials flagged Keanu Neal for unnecessary roughness when he, Jalen Collins and Larry Fitzgerald collided. That marked the second penalty the rookie has drawn in as many games. Quinn doesn't think the hit was dirty, though, and hopes the league doesn't fine Neal for his aggressive play.
"I thought he really lowered his strike zone. I thought it was a really hard hit; he was the second man in on the contact. So my hope is that he wouldn't get – the foul you can't do anything about, but I think it would just be one that would just stay at that," Quinn said. "I thought it was a very aggressive play; I thought it was a very clean hit where he's hitting the strike zone exactly where we want him to. So as a coach, when I see that film and watch that, I thought, 'Man, that was a good, clean, hard hit.' He did not hit him with his head."
Depth on Display
The Falcons have dealt with a number of key injuries this season. Jacob Tamme, Derrick Shelby and Sean Weatherspoon are out for the rest of 2016, and Desmond Trufant could join them if he chooses to go under the knife. Matt Bosher, De'Vondre Campbell, Tevin Coleman and Neal are among those who have missed time, as well, but Atlanta's depth, along with the competitive environment at Flowery Branch, has helped mitigate those ailments.
"All teams deal with it, in terms of the injuries," Quinn said. "We don't generally say, 'Next man up,' but as you're part of this team, we recognize the value you have. That's why we push each guy to take him as far as we can, knowing when your (opportunity) is called, you're ready to answer. And that's one of the best ways to demonstrate, earning your respect from your teammates. 'Here's my opportunity, I'm going to go nail it.'
"They always don't show up when you want them to. Sometimes you're waiting on the practice squad and you're waiting and you're waiting for that opportunity to come to life. … But when your (chance) comes, how do you respond? It's a great example for any young player, knowing, 'My (opportunity) is going to come at some point. Am I doing enough behind the scenes? Am I doing all the things when the coaches aren't watching so when my chance comes, I'm ready to nail it?' I think those guys really exemplify that."