Check out what Atlanta Falcons players and coaches are saying about the Seattle Seahawks before the two teams meet in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
Head Coach Dan Quinn
(On how much he used some of the Seahawks' style at Atlanta...) "I never intended to have Seattle East, I wanted to create our own Atlanta. Of course I learned fantastic lessons from my time with Pete [Carroll] and John [Schneider], the players there for sure. But one of the best pieces of advice was to do it your own way and let it rip, that came from Pete, and I've tried to really stay true to that. There's definitely things that had a huge impact that we could go on for days about my time there, from coaching to players to management, but honestly all those experiences helped me create the vision of what I hoped to create here in Atlanta. That's what I was hoping to create."
(On if there is anything in Atlanta that really reminds him of his time with Seattle...)"For me, having a real process to go through the week helped really organize your thoughts for the team. That alone might have been one of the biggest things, to have a real routine of how you go about playing. Here, we recognize that often times the games are won during the week, so that preparation, that strain and the term we use here is, 'Iron sharpening iron,' that's one brother helping another brother to get ready. Me learning that process through there, that left such an impression on me that carried over into the way we do things here."
(On if he has a similar week layout as Seattle did when he was there...)"Today is a big day for us on 'Competition Wednesday,' so I do have some of the same structure that I learned through Pete [Carroll]. There are a lot of things that are different, but having a real routine is probably the main thing that I got out, whatever that routine is. It's important to follow it because all competitors have it. I think each coach, if you went around all 32, has some routines to get ready, and ours is different than Seattle's which is different than LA or Arizona or Carolina and Tampa [Bay] and New Orleans. Having that process to rely on as a competitor to get ready, it doesn't allow the outside stuff to influence your week to week, where you can just stay in that pocket of getting ready."
(On trying to get Michael Bennett to Seattle in 2013...) "Mike and I go way back to actually 2009, when he came out of [Texas] A&M. I can talk all day about him, what he meant to me as a coach, and it's because of guys like Mike that I have this fantastic opportunity here. My respect for Mike and some of his teammates is so strong. The biggest thing for me, it goes to show that when you want to work at a level that other people are unwilling to go to, you can take your game to really high heights. Mike had come out of A&M with this really quick get off and could really penetrate and was disruptive, he was tough as hell. Over the course of time, his game kept evolving and kept getting better and better and for those of you that see how quick his hands are and how hard he works, what you don't see is all the work that goes in behind the scenes when he's out in Hawaii and putting on all the training that he goes through. The lesson I gained from it, is there's another spot a player can go to when you're trying to really go for it. I though Mike embodied that for me as much as anybody I've been around."
(On the game against Seattle earlier this year...)"It was a battle. We thought going in it was totally going to be that way, as well. In the first half, I though man we really had a tough time of it. We had some turnovers and it was classically turnovers, pass rush came alive, so we had to battle to try to get back in it. It came down to the finish and we weren't able to get the job done. I would say, you do gain some things by going through some difficult losses. Just like they have and we have, when you go through some of those tough, straining times, there's lessons to be learned there. When we came back from that game, we were disappointed in not winning the game, but there were definitely things to gain. As far as the scheme goes and matchups, both teams now are a better version of themselves when we played back then, so we're expecting, just like I would think they are, another tough, hard nosed game against two really good teams."
(On playing against the team that he won a Super Bowl with...)"No, I think the reason was for me, going through the first game again them was out at Seattle was a unique one for me. Now that that game is under the belt already, so to speak, I hope we battle against one another and you and I, we have a bunch of these conference calls over the next ten years. I hope we turn into a classic battle through the years. That would be my hope, but I am glad that first game is already out and under the way. Now it's just kind of back to ball and playing against guys you know. Not much past that."
(On the Seahawks losing Earl Thomas...) "I think it's a tricky thing to talk about because Steven [Terrell] is so principled, so disciplined. Kris [Richard] and the guys have done a fantastic job of understanding how to go. It's also real that a guy of Earl's talent, it isn't just next man up. He's so versatile, covers receivers, running backs, tight ends, so he's a factor for sure. You can tell, for them not to allow a touchdown against a really good throwing team, I think it shows how disciplined and committed they are and how well Steven stepped in."
Quarterback Matt Ryan
(On his assessment of the Seahawks defense…) "I think they're really good on the defensive side of the ball. Earl's out, Kam's back in. When we played them Kam didn't play for them. Kam Chancellor, he's such a good player, too. Kind of sets the tone for them in terms of physicalness and being aggressive. They're different, Earl's a great player for sure and covers a lot of ground, but their scheme is similar, really similar. I think their front four makes their defense go. I think they play really well up front against the run, against the pass, and I think they tie in really well front end to back end."
(On the Seahawks giving up big plays with Earl Thomas out of the lineup…) "Yeah, I mean we created some big plays with Earl in the lineup, too. There's plays to be made at all times through games. One guy's not going to make it — Earl's a great player, there's no question about that — but there will be opportunities. There always are during games. Like always, whenever we get our opportunities, hopefully we can make those plays."
(On if the Seahawks have simplified anything with Earl Thomas out of the lineup…) "I think their scheme stays pretty consistent. I think that's probably one of the things that Seattle's done a great job of since Pete [Carroll] has been there. They really don't change all that much. They do what they do and they do it really well."
(On the Falcons' Week 6 game in Seattle…) "In the second half out there I think we calmed down and played the way that we're capable of and just settled into a rhythm a little bit better than we did in the first half."
(On if they changed anything schematically in the second half of that game…) "No, I think it was our execution. That's a loud, tough place to play. It's a difficult environment and they've had a lot of success out there against a lot of good teams and they had a lot of success against us in that first half, but we played a little bit better in the second half. I think it came down to executing a little bit better."
Linebacker Vic Beasley
(On how their defense has improved since last time they played Seattle...) "It's just the film room and just practicing extremely well. Hoping that that will translate over to the game field. Coach [Dan Quinn] preached to us about getting the ball back, being ball hawks, we were able to get some turnovers that go our way these past couple games."
(On how much Dan Quinn has emulated the Seahawks' defensive style at the Falcons...)"He doesn't really compare it to anybody, he likes to have his own unique feel for the team. He's a great coach in building the defense and he's a great coach and building the team overall. It's a pleasure to play for him and we're looking forward to spending more time with him."
(On if he's ever heard a comparison between their defense and Seattle's defense from Dan Quinn...) "You don't really hear him say anything about Seattle or comparing us to Seattle. Like I said, he likes us to have that unique feel. We're different."
(On playing against Russell Wilson...) "Honestly, for myself, I despise playing a scrambling quarterback. But it comes with the game."
(On why it's difficult playing against a quarterback like Russell Wilson...) "You have to run everywhere. I don't feel like chasing him down [laughing]. I like quarterbacks like Peyton Manning who sits in the pocket and you really got to take them."
(On Russell Wilson...) "He loves to extend plays, kind of like Aaron Rodgers a lot. He's great at doing that and I think that's how the offense gets going, they're trying to feed off of him."
(On how he felt after the loss to the Seahawks earlier this season...) "It was sick to our stomach. Having a chance to go up there in Seattle and get a big win, and we knew it would have been big, not only for our team but for Coach Quinn, having that first victory against his former team. There was a lot of stake in that game."
(On what he took from the loss to the Seahawks...) "Most certainly, I know Coach Quinn definitely wants to win going against his former team, but we feel like we owe them a little bit, too. We feel like we had a chance to win that game, a couple calls didn't go our way, but we can't control that. We can only control what we can control."
Defensive Coordinator Richard Smith
(On the Seahawks being more aggressive on the offensive line…) "Any time Tom Cable's the offensive line coach, he's one of the tops in the League, and he learned his craft from a man that I worked with — Alex Gibbs — over at Denver, and he's got them playing very, very hard, aggressive, and when you get into this time this late in the season, they've been doing the same thing over and over and over and as a player you get better and better at it. It's just like they're better at their craft, but I also believe that we're better at our craft. It's going to be a great battle and they are playing aggressively and their runners are running hard. They've got a nice little change up with 34 [Thomas Rawls] improved from the last time we played them and also they've got 36 [Alex Collins] who runs the ball hard, and then they've got some change-up guys, C.J. [Prosise] I believe 22, a really great receiver out of the backfield, so they've got quite a few weapons. They've also got a great receiving corps that I think plays extremely hard for the quarterback. They make the acrobatic catch. You saw [Paul] Richardson, I believe number 10, make a great catch. You've got [Doug] Baldwin, 89, who's really shifty in the slot. They do a great job with their — we call them pick routes — where they pick you and get guys open. They know what they're doing. It's going to be an exciting game for us on Saturday."
Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan
(On the run game against Seattle in Week 6…) "We didn't do a good job staying on the field in the first game. Got a little behind in the downs early in the game and when you do that it's hard to get the runs. They're not a team you can come out and just hammer it down their throat. It's an eight-man front every play. You've got to go on long drives, you've got to do good on third down, and over the course of the game you'll get your carries. But if you get behind in that down and distance, or behind in the score and stuff, it's real tough to do. But I think we've had a good week of practice and hopefully the game will give us a chance to do that."
(On how Kam Chancellor impacts the run game…) "He's one of the best. He's proved that over his entire career. He's a challenge and those other 10 guys are very good, too. They're not an easy team to run the ball against, but as always you want to try to stay balanced because it makes things a lot easier on your players when you do."
The Seahawks and Falcons have battled 16 times, including playoffs, since 1976, with Seattle owning 10 victories. The two teams meet again this Saturday in the Divisional Round of the playoffs at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
Special Teams Coordinator Keith Armstrong
(On if Seahawks returner Devin Hester still poses a threat in the return game…) "Yeah. … Devin Hester's Devin Hester, that's the way we're going to prepare. Devin can play. He's a good player, I've got a lot of respect for him. He is a competitor. We understand that, so we've got to take care of our business."
(On the blockers around Devin Hester in the return game…) "They've got a good group. They can run. The biggest thing that jumps out with them is their speed. They can run, a bunch of big kids that can run. Good group."
Wide Receiver Julio Jones
(On what the feeling is like before Saturday's game against Seattle…)"It's not a big game for us. It's like any other game for us. We're just doing what we do, continue to stay loose and just have fun around here."
(On how you keep things normal in the playoffs…) "There's no pressure for us. Every week Q [coach Quinn] has done a great job here with us, allowing us to be a player-led team and other guys see older guys just having fun and being here. Just being loose. Yeah, we're in the playoffs now, it's win or go home, but we've got to do what we do. We've got to do what we love doing. That's the only way we're going to be able to do our job the best way we can is being loose and flying around."
(On what sticks out about Richard Sherman's play…)"He's a competitor. He's very competitive. He's a long, rangy corner. He's going to compete every play."
(On how the Week 6 matchup impacts preparation for this week…)"We know what they are. They're just like our defense. Dan Quinn came from over there. … At the end of the day it's on us. We can't turn over the ball. We've just got to go out there and do what we do."
(On if this is a matchup he wanted after what happened earlier this season…)"We just landed them in the playoffs. It's just any other game for me. It's not I want revenge or anything else like that. They're in the way, so you just go out here and play ball."
- For more, head to AtlantaFalcons.com
Get to know the faces of the Atlanta Falcons' offensive and defensive units heading into the team's Divisional Round playoff matchup with the Seattle Seahawks.