Wait, Husky Stadium is home to the Seattle Seahawks’ enemy this week?
Well, just a temporary, practice home.
Former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, now Atlanta’s head coach, decided to bring his Falcons straight from their win at Denver on Sunday to Seattle for this weekend’s showdown with the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. It’s an early season faceoff of one-loss division leaders; Atlanta leads the NFC South after four consecutive wins.
On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the Falcons will practice at Husky Stadium instead of at home in Georgia.
University of Washington sources told The News Tribune Tuesday the Falcons paid the UW athletic department $41,000 for use of its facilities this week.
What will they get for their money?
The Falcons will use the visiting locker room and stadium field each day, with interviews in the locker room on the southeast end of Husky Stadium and a normal, NFL midweek operation.
They are also expected to get a full Northwest October experience, starting Thursday.
Forecasts are calling for storms that could bring up to 4 inches of rain and wind gusts nearly 50 miles per hour to some parts of Western Washington from late Wednesday into Sunday. One of the storms coming is leftovers from a typhoon near Guam.
UW has its Dempsey Indoor practice field adjacent to Husky Stadium. The Falcons haven’t contracted to use that but could if the weather gets too much for the Southerners in which to prepare for the Seahawks — provided Atlanta works around the schedules of the many other Huskies teams that use the Dempsey each day.
NFL teams visiting occasionally use Husky Stadium for light, walk-through practices the day before playing the Seahawks downtown. But the Falcons’ stay in the first time in anyone’s memory around UW that an NFL team has used Husky Stadium for multiple practices the week before a Seahawks game.
The Seahawks played their home games at Husky Stadium in the 2000 and ’01 seasons, after their old Kingdome was demolished and while CenturyLink Field was being built.
Staying west and practicing in Seattle this week eliminates any potential jet lag from two cross-country flights on as many weekends for the Falcons. It also strengthens what Quinn and his Falcons have been championing this season: a “brotherhood” vibe.
That vibe — and Matt Ryan’s record-paced passing yardage plus deep threat Julio Jones two games off a 300-yard receiving day — are working in Atlanta. The Falcons lead the league in points (175), yards (457 per game) and passing (333 yards per game). They won handily at the defending Super Bowl-champion Broncos last weekend. The final score was 23-16 but Atlanta led 23-6 in the fourth quarter.
Quinn learned about a “brotherhood” mentality while he was on coach Pete Carroll’s staff for two stints. The 46-year-old Quinn, in his second season as a first-time head man, was Carroll’s defensive line coach with Seattle in the 2009 and ’10 seasons. He came back after a couple seasons as the defensive coordinator at the University of Florida to be Carroll’s coordinator for the Seahawks in 2013 and ’14. Both were Super Bowl seasons for Seattle, including the franchise’s first NFL championship.
That and Quinn’s open communication seeking player input is why the man they call “DQ” is still as popular as ice cream inside the Seahawks’ locker room.
“Coach Quinn does a great job of getting guys in great positions,” Seattle Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett said of his former coach.
The Falcons run many of the same principles Quinn used with the Seahawks’ defense, 4-3 schemes with emphasis on pressure and stopping the run.
“Pretty similar, a lot of things,” Carroll said of Quinn’s Atlanta defense. “They’ve got their own coaches that coach things differently and stuff like that. There’s a lot of basics, too, that are similar.”
Just 20 months ago, Quinn was on a podium beneath University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, trying to explain the Seahawks giving up two late touchdowns to Tom Brady and New England to lose Super Bowl 49. He also deflected questions that Super Bowl Sunday night about rumors he was about to take the Falcons’ head job, which he did that week.
This week, not surprisingly given his understated nature, Quinn is downplaying his Seahawks links.
“I get the question, I know it’s going to come up some a bunch this week,” Quinn said Monday on a conference call back from Seattle to media members back in Georgia, according to ESPN.com.
“Honestly, I’d be crazy not to learn a lot from Coach Carroll. But this week, I feel a little bit uncomfortable talking about me. I just so want it to be about our guys, the team. (Carroll) had a huge impact on me as a coach in a lot of ways. But honestly this week, I’d be more comfortable … I just hate having any of the topic back to my way.
“But I do understand the story. Yeah, I learned a great deal. I’ve got a lot of gratitude for the front office men there, associates there, players there. They’re a big reason why I get to wear the Falcons logo every day, because of a lot of those guys.”
Carroll and Quinn chatted often during last season, Quinn’s 8-8 debut in Atlanta. But one thing Quinn did not learn from his mentor while in Seattle was the staying-in-the-same-time-zone travel arrangement the Falcons are on at UW this week.
“No. We’ve learned to travel and we’re OK about it,” Carroll said of his Seahawks from 2010 to now, and his USC Trojans’ trips across the country from 2001-’09. “I think the familiarity of home and just staying here for us has worked out best just over the years. We take the long trips and we’re real accustomed to that.
“We’ve done enough of it over a really long period of time now, you’re talking 15 years or 20 years it feels like that we’ve been doing it, so we know the expectations of it and I think the mentality of it.
“I know some teams choose to do that and works out for them, and sometimes it doesn’t. We know what we’re doing.”