Two months removed from a grueling Super Bowl loss, it’s only natural for head coach Dan Quinn to occasionally look back. But he’s more interested in learning from the mistakes than dwelling.
Specifically, Quinn thinks about when his Atlanta Falcons had the ball up eight. Following an otherworldly catch from Julio Jones, the Falcons had the ball well within Matt Bryant’s field goal range. But instead of running a conservative offense and taking a virtually insurmountable 11-point lead lead, Atlanta offensive coordinator (and current San Francisco 49ers head coach) Kyle Shanahan got aggressive.
The rest is history.
“I think when you go down that road, it’s the hindsight stuff, it’s so easy to say right now,” Quinn said to Pete Prisco of CBS Sports. “Of course I wanted the outcome to be different. Most plays that we had designed for our best player (Jones), they usually end up pretty good. It’s a fine line between gutsy call and poor call.
I totally trusted Kyle in terms of calls. That’s life. I can’t keep looking back. I learned my lesson. I gain from my scars. How do you get better? That’s kind of where the what-if game changes for me. Where did I improve so much that will help me in the next 20 years?”
That’s certainly the sign of a good coach.
The problem is that, even as good as the Falcons are, Super Bowl trips are no guarantee. The next one may never come. Ask Dan Marino. Even if it does, it may come on a day where Atlanta (or whatever team Quinn’s coaching) is just off.
Looking forward is great and absolute necessary. But even if Quinn learns from Super Bowl LI’s mistakes and becomes a better coach, another opportunity is far from guaranteed. Quinn must not only improve, but hope he’s given another chance like that.