Falcons Top Rookies Stand Out During an Unusual Offseason

Dan quinn

Getty Head coach Dan Quinn of the Atlanta Falcons signals his approval.

The Atlanta Falcons and the rest of the NFL teams had a weird offseason due to the coronavirus outbreak leaving players learning the playbooks from zoom and endless phone calls.

“I think this is going to affect guys getting drafted, Falcons QB Kurt Benkert told Heavy.com back in March. They’re going to have to be more visual and learning in a classroom than learning hands-on. But by the time the season starts there is plenty of time to really be ready for the season.”

While current NFL players such as Benkert thought it might be difficult for the rookies to transition the league from a virtual standpoint, a couple of rookies caught on quick.

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn singled out two players who led the group of rookies, first-round pick A.J. Terrell and third-round pick Matthew Hennessy.

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A Lot of Testing Was Done During the Virtual Offseason

The Falcons managed to work through the hurdles of not being face-to-face in a classroom this year. Coach Quinn said the team used a lot of apps to make quizzes to summarize what they had discussed after each meeting.

“I want to find out what ‘the learning’ is. I know the teaching was good, but what was the learning? And so I was wanting to quiz them, Quinn said on Monday. There’s been all sorts of apps that are good for that, Kahoots is one or making one as a voice-over, sending it out and then coming back to the next one. What we wanted to make sure is who had to look down at the notes to answer the test. Some of it was right on.”

A good meeting only lasted about 25 minutes and was filled with an overview, teaching, and then a short quiz.

“We’ve had quarterbacks with receivers like ‘here’s the play, responsibility, go, go, go’ where they didn’t have time to look down. Depth, route, what are the zones? It was constant testing, Quinn said.  I would usually know if it was a good meeting if it was a 25-minute meeting and the first five minutes was here’s what we want to get done, then the next 15 might of been back and forth teaching and then the last five should be for testing to find out where exactly they’re at.”

Timing is Everything

The app tests were a great way for the Falcons coaches to get a feel as to who was grasping the plays and concepts. The most important part was the timing and comprehension because in a real-time game, you have to be able to think on your feet and you don’t get to look back at your notes.

“The testing app or making on on your own, they’re good because they’re fun. The app ones are good because it measures how quickly and how accurately. So, that’s a good one as opposed to a guy who’s taking a test for two hours looking through his notes. You don’t get those kinds of tests, so how quickly guys can think was a lot of fun.”

According to ESPN’s Vaughn McClure, Terrell and Hennessy were the fastest players when it came to test-taking. This is a relief considering they’re two of the most important additions to the team and if they can transition quickly enough into the NFL, then game-changing plays will be made between the two.

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