Cover 9@9: Falcons believe in Quinn’s playoff plan

dan quinn, atlanta falcons

Under Dan Quinn, the Falcons remain contenders. (Mark Zaleski/AP)

Good morning! The Cover 9@9 is a weekly blog of everything you need to know about the Atlanta Falcons, we published 9 items at 9 a.m. each Wednesday morning.
1. QUINN’S PLAN FOR SUCCESS:  The fact that Falcons coach Dan Quinn has been to two Super Bowls as Seattle’s defensive coordinator helps his message in the locker room.

“I think that talk of keeping it normal, keeping the routine normal and based on what we’ve done up until this point, I think that’s really true,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said on his radio show on 680 the Fan. “Dan talks all the time about the way that we prepare, the way that we practice, the way that we compete, makes everything seem real normal when we get in the games. I think that’s true. I think guys have done that.

“I think the approach and knowing that Dan knows how to get it done, he’s been there and has gone through that process before makes a difference. He understands what it takes, guys believe in that and trust in his process.”

2. RYAN PLAYOFF RECORD: Ryan doesn’t feel there’s any added playoff pressure on him after a three-year hiatus.

The NFC South champion Falcons (11-5) will face the highest seed to advance from the NFC wild-card round at 4:35 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14 at the Georgia Dome.

Ryan, who was drafted in 2008, took Falcons to the playoffs in four of his first five seasons in the league. The team has missed the playoffs for the past three seasons before earning the No. 2 seed this season.

Ryan has a 1-4 record in the playoffs as the Falcons were knocked out each time by the team that went on to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Green Bay and the New York Giants went on to win Super Bowl titles, while Arizona and San Francisco lost in the Super Bowl.

“I don’t think so,” Ryan said when asked about any added pressure on his show on 680 The Fan on Tuesday. “We’ve won in the playoffs before. I don’t really worry about that too much. For me, it’s about how do we get the one win next week, whoever it’s going to be against. I think putting any more pressure on yourself, other than that, is a waste of time.”

3. A QUICK LOOK BACK: The Falcons reached the NFC championship game after the 2012 season. Ryan and the slightly-favored Falcons were knocked out of the wild-card round after the 2008 season by Arizona.

After missing the playoffs in 2009, the Falcons were the No. 1 seed after the 2010 season, but were upset by Green Bay 48-21 at the Georgia Dome. Green Bay went on to beat Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl.

After the 2011 season, the Giants called out the Falcons offensive linemen as “dirt bags” and then led them to a 24-2 win as they shut down Ryan and the offense. The Giants went on to beat New England in the Super Bowl.

After the 2012 season, the Falcons defeated Seattle in the divisional round after blowing a 10-point lead. In the championship game, the Falcons’ blew a 17-point lead and lost to the 49ers, 28-24.

“I think that’s one of the things that I’ve learned,” Ryan said. “All of the extra-curricular pressure, the outside noise that people talk about, doesn’t make a difference. What makes a difference is how well we play. In order to play well, we need to practice well.”

4. DOME PATH:  Ryan noted that the Falcons could win the Super Bowl without playing a down outdoors.

“I think any quarterback would be lying to you if they said they didn’t like playing a dome where you are going to have good conditions to throw the ball, Ryan said. “I think that’s a good thing for us. We are ready to play where ever, but obviously, playing indoors as a quarterback is always pretty nice.”

5. SHULA COACH OF THE YEAR NOMINEE: Tucker High School coach Bryan Lamar is the Atlanta Falcons nominee for the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award.

2016 Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Nominees
Arizona Cardinals Perry High School Preston Jones
Atlanta Falcons Tucker High School Bryan Lamar
Baltimore Ravens Walkersville High School Joe Polce
Buffalo Bills Dunkirk High School Mike Sarratori
Carolina Panthers Hilton Head School Russel ‘BJ’ Payne
Chicago Bears Peoria High School Tim Thorton
Cincinnati Bengals St. Xavier High School Steve Specht
Cleveland Browns Lorain High School Dave McFarland
Dallas Cowboys Highland Park High School Randy Allen
Denver Broncos Strasburg High School Jeff Giger
Detroit Lions Benton Harbor High School Elliot Uzelac
Green Bay Packers Kimberly High School Steve Jones
Houston Texans Ebbert L. Furr High School Matthew Valmore
Indianapolis Colts Westfield High School Jake Gilbert
Jacksonville Jaguars Ponte Vedra High School Matthew Toblin
Kansas City Chiefs* Grain Valley High School

Blue Valley High School

David Allie

Eric Driskell

Los Angeles Rams Narbonne High School Manuel Douglas
Miami Dolphins Carol City High School Aubrey Hill
Minnesota Vikings Minneapolis North High School Charles Adams
New England Patriots Mills High School Dana Olson
New Orleans Saints Edna Karr High School Brice Brown
New York Giants Cardinal Hayes High School CJ O’Neill
New York Jets Curtis High School Peter Gambardella
Oakland Raiders California School for the Deaf Warren Keller
Philadelphia Eagles Perkiomen Valley High School Rob Heist
Pittsburgh Steelers Thomas Jefferson High School Bill Cherpak
San Diego Chargers Madison High School Rick Jackson
San Francisco 49ers Saint Francis High School Greg Calcagno
Seattle Seahawks Tumwater High School Sid Otton
Tampa Bay Buccaneers St. Petersburg High School Joe Fabrizio
Tennessee Titans Whitehaven High School Rodney Saulsberry
Washington Redskins Quantico Middle/High School Paul Roy

*Indicates team has more than one nominee

6. THE SHANAHAN WATCH: Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is set to interview with with four teams, according to multiple reports. The best fits appear to be in Denver or Los Angeles. Former Falcons head coach Mike Smith will likely emerge as the front-runner in Jacksonville and San Francisco is a total re-build. So, if Shanahan doesn’t get Denver or Los Angeles, he could return to the Falcons and wait until a better opportunity comes open next season.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn knows this process well and how to manage it. Shanahan will go do his interviews in Atlanta and return to work on Monday to get ready for the divisional playoff round game.

“I’m not worried about that one bit,” Quinn said. “Any preparation that you do, that was a discussion we’ve had well before this week. Anything that was done would have been done well before our season started.”

If Shanahan leaves, the Falcons will likely go outside the franchise for his replacement.


7. REVIEW OF SEATTLE GAME: The Seahawks defeated the Falcons 26-24 on Oct. 16 in Seattle.

The Falcons could not close the deal.

Holding precariously to a one-point lead, the Falcons had a costly turnover in the final minutes that set up Seattle’s game-winning field goal in a hard-fought, 26-24 loss before 69,071 boisterous fans at CenturyLink Field on Sunday.

The Seahawks improved to 4-1, and the Falcons dropped to 4-2.

Here are the 5 things we learned from that game.

8. REVIEW OF GREEN BAY GAME: The Falcons defeated the Packers 33-32 on Oct. 30.

Matty Ice is back.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who’d uncharacteristically tossed two late-game interceptions in two previous losses, returned to old game-winning form.

Ryan tossed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu with 31 seconds left to lift the Falcons to a 33-32 victory over the Green Bay Packers before 70,165 jubilant fans on Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

Here are the 5 things we learned from that win.

9. DEPTH CHART: Here’s the Falcons’ depth chart entering the playoffs.


WR 11 Julio Jones, 16 Justin Hardy, 15 Nick Williams, 14 Eric Weems
LT 70 Jake Matthews, 76 Tom Compton
LG 67 Andy Levitre, 63 Ben Garland
C 51 Alex Mack, 63 Ben Garland
RG 65 Chris Chester, 71 Wes Schweitzer
RT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 76 Tom Compton
TE 81 Austin Hooper, 80 Levine Toilolo, 82 Joshua Perkins, 86 D.J. Tialavea
WR 12 Mohamed Sanu, 18 Taylor Gabriel, 19 Aldrick Robinson
QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 Matt Schaub
RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 26 Tevin Coleman, 28 Terron Ward
FB 42 Patrick DiMarco
DE 50 Brooks Reed, 99 Adrian Clayborn, 93 Dwight Freeney
DT 95 Jonathan Babineaux
DT 97 Grady Jarrett, 91 Courtney Upshaw
DE 94 Tyson Jackson, 77 Ra’Shede Hageman
LB 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 41 Philip Wheeler
LB 45 Deion Jones, 55 Paul Worrilow, 53 LaRoy Reynolds
LB 59 De’Vondre Campbell, 52 Josh Keyes
CB 23 Robert Alford, 29 C.J. Goodwin, 38 Blidi Wreh-Wilson
CB 32 Jalen Collins, 34 Brian Poole, 30 Deji Olatoye
S 37 Ricardo Allen, 20 Sharrod Neasman
S 22 Keanu Neal, 38 Dashon Goldson
K 3 Matt Bryant
KO 5 Matt Bosher
P 5 Matt Bosher
KR 14 Eric Weems, 16 Justin Hardy
PR 14 Eric Weems, 16 Justin Hardy
LS 47 Josh Harris
H 5 Matt Bosher

The Falcons secured a first-round playoff bye after defeating the Saints 38-32 on Sunday. The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter reports from the Georgia Dome.

GAME 16: Falcons 38, Saints 32

5 things we learned from the Falcons win over the Saints

Falcons defense sags late but hangs on vs. Brees

Julio Jones says bye week will be ‘great for me’ with sore toe

GAME 15: Falcons 33, Panthers 16

5 things we learned from the Falcons win over the Panthers

NFL playoffs: Falcons clinch NFC South title

Third-and-21, no problem for Coleman

What Dan Quinn had to say after the win over the Panthers

GAME 14: Falcons 41, 49ers 13

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ win over the 49ers

What Matt Ryan had to say about the win over the 49ers

PHOTOS: Falcons win over the 49ers

GAME 13: Falcons 42, Rams 14

REPORT CARD: Falcons handled their business against woeful Rams

GAME 12: Chiefs 29, Falcons 28

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ loss to the Chiefs

Falcons still control their playoff destiny

PHOTOS: Falcons have a bad day at the office

Matt Ryan tormented by Berry’s big interceptions

Beasley becomes a double-digit sacker

GAME 11: Falcons 38, Cardinals 19

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ win over the Cardinals

MARK BRADLEY: The Falcons keep getting better as they go

Julio Jones gets calls this time

Taylor Gabriel continues scoring streak in win over Cardinals

Coleman scores TD in return from injury

Falcons’ offensive line ‘stepped up to the task’

GAME 10: Eagles 24, Falcons 15

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ loss to the Eagles

Ryan, offense slowed down to a crawl

Perkins stalls key drive with costly penalty

Defense gets blown of the line of scrimmage

Keanu Neal can expect fine but Falcons’ biggest issue is injuries (Trufant and Tamme)

Falcons go into bye week wrong way — beat up by Eagles

What Dan Quinn had to say after the loss to the Eagles

What Matt Ryan had to say after the loss to the Eagles

What the Falcons had to say after the loss to the Eagles

PHOTOS: Falcons fall to the Eagles

GAME NINE: Falcons 43, Buccaneers 28

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ rout of the Bucs

GAME EIGHT: Falcons 33, Packers 32

GAME SEVEN: Chargers 33, Falcons 30 in OT

5 things we learned from the Falcons loss to the Chargers

Dan Quinn’s gamble with house-money backfires

6 penalties ‘unacceptable’ for Falcons offensive line

Philip Rivers confounds Falcons with short passes: ‘He picked us apart’

Matt Ryan’s late-game interception leads to overtime loss

PHOTOS: Chargers rally to beat Falcons

GAME SIX: Seahawks 26, Falcons 24

5 things we learned from the Falcons loss to the Seahawks

MARK BRADLEY: The Falcons didn’t win, but they made one guy believe (me)

MARK BRADLEY: The Falcons got jobbed but did themselves proud

Matt Ryan’s turnovers were costly

What Dan Quinn had to say after the 26-24 loss to Seattle

Seattle slows down Falcons’ running backs Freeman, Coleman

Ryan Schraeder, offensive line rebounds in second half

Julio Jones: ‘It was just a missed call’

What the Falcons had to say after the 26-24 loss to Seattle

What Matt Ryan had to say after the 26-24 loss to Seattle

Richard Sherman non-commital on pass interference non-call

PHOTOS: Falcons at Seahawks in Seattle

GAME FIVE: Falcons 23, Broncos 16

5 things we learned from the Falcons upset of Super Bowl champs

MARK BRADLEY: The Falcons rock a rookie in the Rockies

What Dan Quinn have to say after the win over Denver

Coleman amassed 163 yards to power the offense

Vic Beasley has breakout game with 3.5 sacks

Kemal Ishmael moved to linebacker, led team in tackles

What the Falcons had to say after the win over the Broncos

Photos: Falcons battle the Broncos

GAME FOUR: Falcons 48, Panthers 33

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ 48-33 win over the Panthers

Tweetcap: Falcons 48, Panthers 33

Old pro Freeney shows new trick with Falcons

Falcons’ rookie Neal holds on vs. Olsen

What Julio Jones had to say after the 48-33 win over the Panthers

What Dan Quinn had to say after the 48-33 win over the Panthers

What Matt Ryan had to say after the 48-33 win over the Panthers

Alford battled; Collins to return

Early view in NFC South isn’t what most expected; Falcons on top

GAME THREE: Falcons 45, Saints 32

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ 45-32 win over the Saints

Falcons, Saints protest with unity circle before game

REPORT CARD: Falcons earned high marks for drubbing Saints

What Dan Quinn had to say after the 45-32 win over the Saints

What Matt Ryan had to say after the 45-32 win over the Saints

What the Falcons had to say after the 45-32 win over the Saints

Keanu Neal makes strong debut for Falcons

Falcons’ Deion Jones runs for glory, not survival, in return home

AJC POWER RANKINGS: Falcons best in NFC South?

GAME TWO: Falcons 35, Raiders 28

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ win over the Raiders

Trufant’s heads-up play saves the day

Tight ends help to power offense

Weatherspoon plays strong in first start since 2013

Matthews, Schraeder held Mack sack-less

JEFF SCHULTZ: Falcons put on offensive show and win

What Matt Ryan had to say after beating the Raiders

What Dan Quinn had to say after the win over the Raiders

GAME ONE: Buccaneers 31, Falcons 24

5 things we learned from the Falcons’ loss to the Bucs

No sacks for new-look Falcons pass rush

Julio Jones not worried about his ankle injury

Falcons have a case of the “no-huddle” blues

REPORT CARD: Falcons can’t ‘gift’ opponents 17 points

FILM REVIEW: Beasley missing in action

AJC’S NFL POWER RANKINGS: Where are the Falcons?

Hageman charged is domestic violence case


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