The Falcons wrapped up the 2015 season by packing up their lockers and chatting with teammates before heading out to start the offseason
When Dan Quinn took over as Atlanta's head coach, one of his biggest tasks was to mold a struggling defense into a championship-caliber unit similar to the one he built in Seattle. The Falcons still have a long way to go before they can draw comparisons to the Seahawks, but thanks to Quinn's scheme, a comprehensive development program and some worthwhile additions, their D took a big step forward in 2015.
"I know this coaching staff is on the right track. Their philosophies are second to none," Kroy Biermann said. "They know what they are doing. They are getting guys to grow and develop. We live and learn through the trials and tribulations and in the victories. There is a lot to be said and a lot to learn from this season."
Many different statistics can be used to evaluate a defense, and the Falcons improved in nearly all of them under Quinn. Below is a chart that compares the last two seasons from a quantitative point of view.
The only areas above that didn't get better from 2014 are turnovers, penalties and sacks. The biggest advancement came in yards allowed: Giving up 50.8 fewer yards per game is a drastic change, one made possible by enhanced play at most spots on the field.
Clearly, the system is working—even though Atlanta still has a lot of work to do before it can reach its ultimate goal.
"Defensively, in terms of the ballhawking mindset and attitude, we're getting closer there, but we're not there yet," Quinn said Monday. "The attitude, the speed that goes along with that—we spend a lot of time to see how good our fundamentals can get, (as well as) tackling.
"Creating turnovers is kind of the next step into that. When you have your scheme just right, the turnovers can come more and more. And affecting the quarterback is a big part of that, because that's oftentimes where the fumbles come. So that's how I think the best way (we can) bridge those two gaps together."