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Dan Quinn dividing the labor of defensive play-calling

The FNIA crew try to figure out how the Falcons went to New Orleans and stunned the Saints in the biggest upset of the season.

The Falcons defense played like there were 13 men on the field at times Sunday.

Which makes a bit of sense, since they had more than the normal amount of people calling plays.

According to Steve Wyche of NFL Network, assistant head coach Raheem Morris said he was calling third down and two-minute defenses in yesterday’s win over the Saints, while linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich called the signals on first and second down.

Wyche also reports that Ulbrich has called plays on early downs since Week Six.

That suggests that Quinn realized much earlier this season that changes needed to be made, and relinquished his own control over defensive play-calling.

In fact, it appears he realized it right after he said he would not do so, which was the day after they gave up nearly 600 yards and lost to the Texans to fall to 1-4. Via Jeff Schultz of, Quinn referenced it in vague terms after losing to the Rams in Week Seven, but didn’t mention any names.

Having Morris help seems reasonable, since he came up in the business as a defensive coach, and was only moved out of his role as receivers coach as part of Quinn’s bye week deck-chair rearranging. But it’s also a rather confusing organizational chart.

Sunday it worked, as the Falcons kept Drew Brees out of the end zone and sacked him six times, after managing seven sacks in their first eight games.