FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Falcons head coach Dan Quinn was displeased with the "sloppiness" his team showed in their first preseason game, but it seems a concerted effort has been made this week to avoid a repeat performance.
Speaking with the media after the Falcons' practice on Wednesday, the team's final practice before playing the Kansas City Chiefs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Friday, Quinn explained that Atlanta's veterans have made sure this week of preparation for the upcoming season was a quality one.
"At times there's mentoring in an encouraging way and at times there's mentoring to confront him and say, 'That's not to the standard of what we want to do,'" Quinn said. "That's the kind of – I'm not going to say uncomfortable conversations – but they are at times. To say, 'Hey man, this isn't the standard of what we expect from you.'
"And they're not coming from a sideways place but to say, 'We've got really high standards around here, and we expect you to meet them and we believe that you can. But, if you don't, there are consequences for that.' Nothing wrong with having high standards for a practice, and for them to realize that when you don't meet them you say, 'Hey, man, there's better.' I'm hopeful that we'll see some of that this week."
Quinn mentioned center Alex Mack and defensive tackle Jack Crawford, specifically, as veterans who displayed the energy and intensity – the standard – that he looks for. Each day this week Quinn said he saw players who picked up where Mack and Crawford left off, illustrating how to properly prepare for a game and the regular season.
Atlanta's performance in its preseason opener, a 17-0 loss to the Jets, was deserving of the sloppy label Quinn attached to it. The Falcons' offensive starters had two penalties on their first and only possession, and the team finished the game with 10 penalties for 71 yards.
Their performance last week and the number of penalties they accrued aren't indicative of the Falcons' play since Quinn took over as head coach in 2015. In 2015, the Falcons had 100 penalties, the eighth-fewest in the NFL. In 2016, the Falcons had 104 penalties, the 13th-fewest in the NFL. Last season, the Falcons split the difference and finished with 102 penalties, again the 13th-fewest in the NFL.
To put that in greater context, the most penalized team in the league the last three seasons has had between 143 and 148 penalties.
That's a long way of saying the Falcons under Quinn haven't traditionally been a sloppy team. Considering what Quinn said Wednesday, it seems the team has worked hard this week to clean things up.
"I felt it crisp and sharp," Quinn said of the practice energy this week. "But that's only part of it. The next part is bringing that intensity and energy right up to the game. I'm hopeful [we can do that]. Our fans certainly deserve that, and we're going to deliver on that end."