FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Following Atlanta's playoff-clinching win over the Carolina Panthers, Falcons coach Dan Quinn addressed the media on a number of topics Monday, including the message he gave his team as they get ready for another week of preparation, the plan to address the special teams penalties and a quick look at the Los Angeles Rams.
The Falcons will take on the third- seeded Rams in Los Angeles on Saturday at 8:15 p.m. ET.
Quinn's message to the Falcons: 'We're battle ready'
Atlanta, the defending NFC champions, is the only NFC team to return to playoffs this season – the other five playoff teams from a year ago did not make it back to the postseason.
As Quinn addressed his team on Monday ahead of beginning preparations for the Rams, the Falcons will rely on the process they've approached each week with until this point.
Every week is treated as if it's a championship week inside Atlanta's locker room.
"We've been tested," Quinn said. "I thought we've come through the fires to the other side together as one brotherhood. We're battle ready. I think that's important when you get to this time of year. This week will be another battle. This is now also when we get to test what we've done over the last 20 weeks to see how we can work together, and we're really excited to do it."
The plan to address special teams penalties
The Falcons had four special teams penalties for 40 yards on Sunday night that played a huge factor in the game. Not only did the penalties cost the team significant field position, but it re-surfaced an issue the Falcons believed they had solved.
Three of the four special teams forced the Falcons to begin their drives starting at the 12-yard line, 15-yard line and 20-yard line.
"We know we can clean that [up], and that was one of the challenges," Quinn said. "I thought we had gotten away from that. We had some early in the year, one big one against the Jets, and then we came back against Tampa and had some good clean games, good clean returns, so it's always something to emphasize, and we're right back to it again. But that was a big factor, you're right, in terms of field position in that game."
Quinn gives quick assessment of the Rams
The Rams took the NFL by surprise this year with first-year head coach Sean McVay leading the charge helping Los Angeles clinch its first postseason berth since 2004.
Los Angeles has the league's No. 1 scoring offense averaging 29.9 points per game. Much of the Rams' offensive success has come from the play of MVP candidate Todd Gurley. The Pro Bowl running back has recorded 2,093 total yards and 19 touchdowns so far this year.
Quinn knows his defense will have their hands full slowing Gurley with all that he brings to the table as not only a running back but a pass-catcher, too.
"For a guy who had his size, he had exceptional ability to put his foot in the ground and accelerate out," Quinn said of Gurley. "So he had kind of the combination of the make you miss and the ability to kind of size you up and run you over. What I didn't know was how good a pass catcher he is, and that part of his game has really come through, especially when year when you see he has over 60 catches. He's really proved he can handle the load in a big way. I know his first year it went like he had wanted and the second year not as good as he had liked, and I think maybe even got banged up along the way, but man, is he back to form. He's an excellent blocker. He shows toughness with the ball and without the ball. So I really sense he's really hitting his stride as a player, but it's the ability for him to accelerate, and then if he wants to drop that shoulder and deliver a hit, he can."
Not only do the Rams have a high-powered offense, they have one of the NFL's best defensive players in Aaron Donald. The defensive tackle leads his team in sacks with 11. Defensive end Robert Quinn is also a force coming off the edge. Between Donald and Quinn, they have combined for 19.5 of the Rams' 48 sacks.
"[It's] [Aaron] Donald, and inside, he's really been disruptive," Quinn said. "He's had one of his best years. He's had 11 sacks. The team has 48 as a total, but I think he and [Robert] Quinn, those are the guys who have the big production outside."
The schedule for the week
The Falcons will move everything up a day as they will leave on Thursday night for Saturday's game. Practice will begin on Tuesday as opposed to Wednesday on a normal week with a game on Sunday.