Today at Flowery Branch, Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn launched his players into the installation of their game plan against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Quinn knows the importance of getting off to a great start and improving the Falcons record in the NFC South. Last season, the Falcons finished with a 1-5 record in the division.
“It’s a great day for us to get started. We call this day ‘Competition Wednesday,’ and that’s really where the heart of our team lies,” Quinn said in his opening statement. “The battle that we do against one another to get ready so we can totally play at our best on Sunday. We know the teams that play well in the division usually have extra bonuses that take place at the end.
“For us to have a division game right off the bat, we’re thrilled with that, and then for us to have the opportunity to play that game here with our group and our crowd makes it extra special to have that. The division game right off the bat is happening around the league too, so I think it’s a good thing.”
Last season the the Falcons were swept by the Buccaneers. What really sticks out to the Falcons is the 3rd-and-19 that the Bucs converted December 6, 2015 in Tampa when Jameis Winston scrambled 20 yards for the first down. Defensive coordinator Richard Smith said in today’s press conference, “It was very disappointing. It wasn’t like us.”
On a related note, Quinn has used the Bucs tape to illustrate the importance of wrapping up and tackling. There were times, especially in late game situations, where the Falcons did not use the proper technique and execute, leading to the Bucs extending drives.
“I’d say it’s a combination of a lot of things where it wouldn’t be just an execution”, Quinn responded. “That’s for sure part of it. Four guys working in concert to make sure you can get the quarterback off the spot. We’ve added some new players, so that’s certainly a factor. So I think those two things kind of go hand in hand. We’ve shown a lot of tackling. They’ve definitely seen some plays that are uncomfortable.”
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said he has a healthy respect for former Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes, current Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith and current Bucs Head Coach Dirk Koetter.
“It’s unique to have those guys coming up here for sure,” Ryan said on 680 The Fan. “I have a lot of respect for Mike and for Dirk. Really enjoyed my time with them.
“And then you get to know Brent, too. Obviously having played with him for as long as I had, you have a feel for just how athletic he is, how he plays the ball, how good he is with his ball skills. All that kind of stuff, we know that about Brent.”
Today the Falcons signed defensive tackle Joey Vellano to the practice squad and waived defensive tackle Joey Mbu to make room for him. Vellano is out of the University of Maryland and has previously spent time with Indianapolis and New England. The other nine players rounding out the practice squad are receiver Nick Williams, running back Gus Johnson, cornerback Deji Olatoye, wide receiver J.D. McKissic, defensive end Nordly Capi, cornerback Devonte Johnson, safety Sharrod Neasman, quarterback Matt Simms and tight end D.J. Tialavea. The practice squad now stands at 10 players.
Defensive end Dwight Freeney (non-injury related) and Keanu Neal (knee) were held out of today’s practice. Julio Jones (ankle), safety Kemal Ishmael (shoulder), and running back Terron Ward (ankle) participated on a limited basis. Jones is expected to fully participate tomorrow.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome this Sunday and kick off is at 1pm. The game will be broadcast on Fox with Sam Rosen and David Diehl providing play-by-play and commentary.