There was a noticeable change in the intensity at practice this week for the Atlanta Falcons.
Interim head coach, Raheem Morris, challenged his team to force their will on their opponents and in order to do so, things needed to change at practice. Wide receiver Julio Jones said Morris made sure his team knew there was no second chances to do things the right way. And it paid off on Sunday.
Jones said when asked to re-do a play at practice, Morris' response was short and to the point:
"No," Morris said.
The lesson Morris is trying to get across is simple. If you don't execute the right way in practice, you won't on Sunday.
"It's [the] small things but it's huge," Jones said of Morris' leadership style. "You have to be perfect right then and there."
One of the first things Morris did when he took over as head coach was call a meeting for the Falcons' "run and hit" leaders. Those players are Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen, Deion Jones, Foye Oluokun and Grady Jarrett. He challenged them to take their game to another level and bring back out the identity they set out to have at the beginning of the season.
The Falcons were nearly perfect in all three areas on Sunday in the 40-23 win over the Minnesota Vikings. Matt Ryan had his best game of the season throwing for four touchdowns and 371 yards. Jones caught eight passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Atlanta's defense forced three turnovers with rookie cornerback A.J. Terrell and linebacker Foye Oluokun recording their first career interceptions. Deion Jones set the tone picking off Kirk Cousins on the first play of the game.
Sitting at 1-5, Morris and the Falcons know they have a lot of work to do and the win on Sunday is the first step. Morris was given the game ball for his first win as interim head coach for the Falcons and he plans to "not let it go" as his simplified approach led his team to their first win of the year.
Don't ask Morris to explain where the team that played on Sunday has been through the first five weeks of the season. He's solely focused on where the team is going and that's how he'll prepare for the Detroit Lions (2-3).
"I can't worry about where it's been, I have to worry about where it's going," Morris said. "Next week, we have to prepare like we did this week to prepare to go 1-0 once again."
Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings with top photos from inside U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 6.