Falcons head coach Dan Quinn learned a lot from his former mentor, Pete Carroll. But the most important takeaway might have been "be yourself."
"I never wanted to make Seattle East or anything," Quinn told reporters at the podium Wednesday. "I wanted to make our own Atlanta, and that was really important to me -- our own philosophy, our own way, our own style of how we do it. I'm different than him in a lot of ways but he impacted me in my career in a lot of ways."
Quinn, who worked for Carroll and had a brief stint as the defensive line coach for Nick Saban, has certainly come from an impressive pedigree. But I don't think his comments on Wednesday were just a desperate plea to separate himself. In reading about the Falcons and watching their players this week, they neither seem robotic and regimented like a Saban team or strategically unhinged like a Carroll team. In fact, Quinn may have done what good coaches are supposed to do, and combined the best of both worlds.
"I learned very early on, whatever process you have, you better stick to it and you better make sure you have real belief in it because it's gonna come from you," Quinn said. "Pete had given me great advice -- someone who once asked what's one thing you can take from there? I said I couldn't take one thing, but it would be a real model of how you can do it. At the end he said, let it rip in your own way. I always remember that topic from him."
The Falcons -- and really, I guess, any team that isn't the Patriots -- are a breath of fresh air on the Super Bowl circuit. Their players are a mix of personality and smart football minds while not being overbearing. Unlike the Panthers from last year, the moment hasn't seemed like too much -- but unlike the Patriots, it does seem like they're actually enjoying themselves.