FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn knows what to expect because he has been there before. Most of his players haven't.
"No. 1, they are difficult to defend," Quinn said of the Patriots. "They use a variety of different formations, personnel groups. They've got a huge playbook, from the pass game into the run game -- gap schemes, trap schemes in the run game. Quick game. I'd say it's an offense that's well-versed. They have different ways to attack you. We'll have our work cut out for us going through the game plan this week to get ready."
Quinn won a Super Bowl as the defensive coordinator in Seattle during the 2013 season, when the Seahawks whipped the Denver Broncos 43-8. The very next year, Quinn held the same role as the Patriots defeated the Seahawks 28-24. Now, Quinn will take a young Falcons team to the NFL's biggest stage, an atmosphere experienced by a select few players, such as seven-time Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney (Colts), linebacker Philip Wheeler (Colts), defensive lineman Courtney Upshaw (Ravens), safety Dashon Goldson (49ers), and recently promoted defensive lineman Joe Vellano (Patriots). Tight end Jacob Tamme, who is on injured reserve following shoulder surgery, went to Super Bowls with both the Colts and Broncos.
Quinn was asked to address the reality of his team's inexperience as opposed to the Super Bowl-tested Patriots, who have been to six of the past 15 Super Bowls and have won four of them. He joked that the Falcons aren't going to make up the difference in two weeks. But does Quinn feel the need to lecture them about not being overwhelmed by their storied opponent?
"I don't think so," Quinn said. "At the beginning of the week, when we do our game planning, we look at the opponent and all the unique things they do. And at the end of the week, the shift comes right back to us. So, it's not something that we talk about on a regular basis with them or any other opponent."
Quinn has preached all postseason about keeping the routine normal, like he did throughout the regular season. But it's a much more difficult task because of the obligations associated with earning a Super Bowl berth. The Falcons went through their normal film session on Monday and will have their normal Wednesday-Friday practice schedule this week before an off day Saturday and travel day to Houston on Sunday. Then next week, the schedule will be much more hectic.
The Falcons have a media session next Monday night at Houston's Minute Maid Park from 7:10-8:10 p.m. CST. Next Tuesday -- the typical day off for a Sunday game -- the Falcons have another media session that includes Quinn and quarterback Matt Ryan from 11:00-11:50 a.m. CST. Interview sessions next Wednesday and Thursday are from 8:00-9:15 a.m. CST, much earlier than the Falcons are accustomed to at home. Their practices in Houston are closed.
Quinn believes he'll have the Falcons well-prepared for the schedule tweak.
"We did all this planning during the bye," Quinn said, referring to the first week of the playoffs, when the No. 2 seed Falcons earned a first-round bye. "I didn't share that with the staff, but I did do the planning ahead. I thought that shift had happened where this team was headed in the right area. We were making the improvements necessary to play really well. It was during that bye time that we put the plan together in terms of the structure of how it would work for the next few weeks.
"Obviously, there's a lot going on behind the scenes with the league and with the teams that are involved as you get closer to it. But that plan was in place. Now it kind of gets fully executed."
For Quinn, he wants to keep a sense of normalcy despite the circumstances.
"It's a big topic," Quinn said of the Super Bowl routine. "I've gone when it's gone well, and I've been a part of it when it hasn't. And I just really want to kind of outline the keys to playing well in the game and managing some of the things on the outside. That's part of the process that I can help share. ... We've got a great process that we go through to get ready, and we're not going to deviate from that."
Quinn was pressed on keeping players out of trouble in a vibrant Super Bowl atmosphere. There was one highly publicized incident involving the Falcons from their previous appearance in the Super Bowl during the 1998 season. Then-safety Eugene Robinson was arrested the night before the game for soliciting a prostitute.
"This team is so tight, and the accountability they have for one another is so strong," Quinn said. "They totally rely on one another. This brotherhood is so strong. They care about one another. They're playing for something bigger than themselves. So for this team, for this group, I totally trust them."