I don’t need to tell you this but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this NFL offseason has been vastly different than previous offseason’s. And for coaches who are typically used to having some sort of routine, the pandemic has forced them to adjust on the fly.
For Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, he sought out advice from those who aren’t in sports to talk to the team. And after talking to Saturday Night Live’s Kenan Thompson about how they had to adjust to doing live shows over Zoom, Quinn revealed to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer about Thompson’s perspective of needing to adjust on the fly.
“Trying to do comedy online is hard,” Quinn said, laughing. “They’d done a Saturday Night Live from home. And so we’d asked, ‘What’s hard about it?’ He goes, ‘You don’t know if the joke is funny, because you don’t hear anybody laughing, because their mics aren’t on.’ So learning some of the technology was fun, and sometimes before meetings we’d just have open mics so you could talk s–t and have fun like a locker room does. And then I’d have to hold up the sign: OK, mics off, cameras on, let’s go.
“But yeah, there were plenty of failures, brother. I’d say with technology, we found out, we could do a lot of things.”
Pretty much, while it’s important to make things as similar as possible for your team based on what you did in past years, it’s okay and necessary to pivot due to obviously unusual circumstances. Having Zoom meetings with over 50 players and staff isn’t exactly ideal but it can be done and it’s a part of being an adult to adjust and make that work. Case in point, Quinn invited a four-star Army general to talk with the team, and after he said he has 800,000 people under his command that he has to find ways to keep up effective communication, it makes Quinn’s situation look simple.
In addition to having smaller meetings with having former players talk to Falcons players from the same position, the team is hoping to keep up team unity through the pandemic while they put out a plan in case there’s a season. There remain many unknowns but the Falcons are looking to make the best of the situation.