FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Every day is a great day for Dan Quinn.
Quinn’s optimism has been his trademark as he enters his third season as the Atlanta Falcons’ coach.
He frequently opens news conferences with such declarations of enthusiasm as “Awesome on-field camp” or “We’ve had a great week” or “I love today and what we do today.”
That optimism held firm even in the days following the biggest collapse in Super Bowl history.
Obviously, Quinn felt the pain when his Falcons blew a 18-point halftime lead to New England, denying the franchise’s chance for its first championship. But he responded by pointing his team toward the future , including training camp, with as much optimism as he could muster.
“Yeah, I think I am positive,” Quinn said after Sunday’s fourth practice of training camp. “I am demanding of them and of the staff and of myself, too. I definitely share the disappointment when that happens or share in how much fun it is when we have a red-zone period like we had today where it’s competing and battling for it. Those are the moments I try to really stay in and not look too far down the line.”
Some players have refused to address the Super Bowl loss , insisting their focus is on the future.
Others, including quarterback Matt Ryan and center Alex Mack, have acknowledged the disappointment was difficult to overcome.
Quinn’s upbeat demeanor never wavered, at least not in front of his players or in the public.
“Really the upbeat thing coming into our offseason was how positive he was and ready for that transition into this next year,” Mack said this week.
For Ryan, it’s just Quinn being Quinn.
“Q has been this way since I’ve been here,” Ryan said Sunday. “He’s forward-thinking about constant improvement, so from that sense I don’t think he’s been any different. He’s taking a pulse of this team, this organization, of where we’re at and is trying to push us further and make us better. From that standpoint, I think he’s been really similar.”
Mack, a nine-year veteran who began his career in Cleveland, said Quinn’s approach is “absolutely” different than most coaches.
“He’s very upbeat, very positive,” Mack said. “Just a very real leader. He comes in and if there’s anything is on his mind, he’ll address it with a very positive attitude. The message has always been consistent. Hey, we’re here to work really hard. We’re here to have a good time doing it. Full steam ahead.”
The Falcons’ roster is a good reason for an optimistic outlook. Every starter except right guard Chris Chester and fullback Patrick DiMarco returns from an offense that led the league in scoring in 2016. For the third straight year, Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff used the draft to boost a young, improving defense .
Even so, Ryan is 32, the team hasn’t agreed to a contract extension with running back Devonta Freeman, and wide receiver Julio Jones’ feet are a frequent concern.
Few coaches are granted multiple chances to win the Super Bowl. No coach has had to cope with losing a 28-3 second-half lead.
The optimism was never needed more than after the crushing Super Bowl loss.
Ryan said he floundered in his “dark place” for a short time. Mack said “It took a while” for him to recover.
Quinn said he recognized it would be important to focus on his players’ morale.
“We did our due diligence over the spring to make sure we could recapture our mindset of how hard we have to work to get right,” Quinn said. “Once we’re here in the training camp, it’s how good could this team get. That’s really where our focus is.”