FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – At this time of the year, nearly every NFL head coach will sound optimistic about his team and explain why he's got a very good group. After Thursday's Falcons Minicamp Built by The Home Depot, head coach Dan Quinn sounded more than just optimistic.
"I told them this is the finest offseason I've been a part of from a player and coaching side, in terms of how hard guys went for it," Quinn said. "We tried to push and challenge in every way, all the way back from the beginning to the coaches assessing every part, offensively, defensively, how we do things, through the combine, through the draft process, the way we teach, just to find some edge here and there."
This offseason, Falcons players and coaches have often discussed their "point-of-attack tapes," which are areas of emphasis for each member of the team to work to improve.
Coaches are there to help point out flaws in a player's game and help them develop in those areas, but part of the reason Quinn has been so impressed with his team's attitude this offseason is that the players, themselves, have taken that job as their own.
"When the players had come back, a number of them already had some ideas and begun work on the things that they wanted to address and wanted to improve upon. And over those nine or ten weeks, they really put work in on one to two things in their game that they wanted to address. All of us have many things [we want to address] but there was a couple that would be really specific. And then over those nine weeks, how did we keep track of them, how did we go and stay with it? So, those were a few of the things, when you're already a good player and you're trying to take it to a new spot, it can be really challenging."
The Falcons have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL with high-caliber players in all three phases of the game.
Led by an MVP-winning quarterback in Matt Ryan, the Falcons' offense boasts versatile skill players and an experienced offensive line. In their second year working with offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, the unit should continue to be among the best in the league. Defensively, the young players have quickly become ascendant stars. With greater experience across the board, the group should be able to maximize its talent and give the Falcons an impactful defense.
Of course, those goals aren't achieved in September, August or even July. The foundations for in-season success are planted early in the offseason. In Quinn's mind, the Falcons have already planted those seeds.
"You've got to dig hard as hell to find the answers and get to the truth and what is good and what you need to improve on," Quinn said. "There's a number of players on our team that went for it in the biggest way, and coaches as well. That's why I'm so excited about this group."