When Dan Quinn was introduced as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons on Tuesday, he preached many of the same principles that have made the Seahawks so successful the past two seasons.
Less than two days removed from the team's 28-24 loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX, Quinn - Seattle's defensive coordinator from 2013-14 - emphasized he would instill a fast, physical, high-effort, fundamental brand of football in his new NFL home.
"I'm so fired up to be here today," Quinn opened from Falcons headquarters in Flowery Branch, Ga.
Quinn interviewed for head coach openings around the League at the conclusion of the 2014 regular season as the Seahawks were enjoying a first-round playoff bye as the conference's No. 1 seed. The Falcons stayed patient, officially naming Quinn their man on Monday.
"They understood that over the last month my sole focus was to help the Seahawks play as well as they could during that playoff run," Quinn said Tuesday of the way Atlanta went about replacing coach Mike Smith, who was hired by the Falcons in 2008. "I owed that to Pete Carroll, to John Schneider, the players, the coaches, and the 12s there. I wouldn't be here today if not for all of them, so I appreciate you guys in terms of waiting and I can't wait to build a similar championship environment right here in Atlanta."
Quinn, the former defensive coordinator/defensive line coach of the Florida Gators, was named to Seattle's staff immediately after then-defensive coordinator Gus Bradley accepted the head coaching job at the Jacksonville Jaguars following the 2012 season. It was a familiar setting and natural fit for Quinn, who spent 2009-10 as the Seahawks' defensive line coach.
The past two years have seen Quinn coordinate the Seahawks defense that won Super Bowl XLVIII against the Denver Broncos' historic passing offense and his unit lead the NFL in scoring (15.9 points per game), total yards (267.1 per game), and passing yards (185.6 per game), while ranking third in rushing yards (81.5 per game) this past season.
"It's been an absolute blast," Quinn said. "From the last 48 hours, to get a chance to compete for a championship in this game is as fun as it gets and playing in that game, although the ending was as difficult and hard as it could be, I knew the next day I was going to have an opportunity of a lifetime waiting for me here in Atlanta, and so although my focus had been on Seattle, that entire month, I knew maybe at the end of the week, here this opportunity would start, and I couldn't be more exited and more fired up to be here with you guys today as it kicks off."
In Atlanta, Quinn will have final say over the Falcons' 53-man roster. He'll collaborate with Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and assistant general manager Scott Pioli, who will oversee free agency and the draft. It's a structure that's worked well for the Seahawks since Carroll took over in 2010, and also one that's employed by the Super Bowl XLIX champion Patriots under coach Bill Belichick.
"We're going to try to be the best fundamental team in football," said Quinn. "That's a real challenge in tackling and our ability to go after the ball and take care of [it on] offense and those will be some of the core tenets we'll talk about.
"We're going to try and hit people as hard as possible in the strike zone."
Back in the Pacific Northwest, during locker clean-out day at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center, Seattle had yet to name a replacement for Quinn. But Seahawks defensive tackle Jordan Hill was happy to learn of his former coach's jump to a larger leadership role.
"Oh yeah, especially D.Q. because he helped me out a lot," said the second-year pro Hill, who tallied 5.5 sacks in 2014 before landing on injured reserve ahead of the team's Super Bowl run. "Especially this year, helping me progress and become a better player and just a smarter player, understanding defensive line.
"The way that he coached, the style that he coached, you just wanted to go out and play for him."
The Seahawks don't have the Falcons on their schedule in 2015, but there's always the chance the two teams could meet in the NFC playoffs next season.
"I'm definitely happy for him," said defensive end Cliff Avril. "Q is a good guy. He definitely deserves it. He knows his football.
"Best of luck out there, until they play us."
After coming back from the Super Bowl, the Seahawks clean out their spaces at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, ready to put new items next season.