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Tapp gives player's perspective on Falcons candidates Teryl Austin, Dan Quinn

Veteran defensive end Darryl Tapp became familiar with the compassionate side of Teryl Austin when Tapp was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in 2006 and Austin was the team’s defensive backs coach.

The two lived in the same neighborhood in suburban Issaquah, Washington, so Tapp grew accustomed to seeing Austin outside of the facility.

"Him and his wife always kept tabs on me," said Tapp, a former second-round pick from Virginia Tech. "Going from Virginia, where I grew up, to Seattle, it was really my first time away from home, so he just always checked to see how I was doing. Things like that make you feel good as a player. Not only was he a coach, but he also was a mentor."

Tapp also experienced the fiery side of Austin as recently as this past season. The two were reunited when Tapp signed with the Lions last March, just a few months after Austin was hired by the Lions as a first-time defensive coordinator.

"I think it was last game against Chicago this year, he ripped into us at halftime because we weren’t playing up to our ability," Tapp recalled. "Don’t mistake his kindness for weakness. That guy, he definitely has it all. And it was a true honor to play for him this year."

Tapp is not surprised Austin has become a popular name for head-coach vacancies across the league. Austin was due to arrive in Atlanta from Arizona Wednesday for a second interview with the Falcons following a first interview with the Chicago Bears on Tuesday. He has a chance to win over Falcons owner Arthur Blank, and the talk around the league is Austin delivers quite an impressive presentation.

But Tapp is also familiar with another highly regarded head coach candidate. Tapp played under Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn when Quinn was the team’s defensive line coach in 2009. Quinn emerged as the favorite for the Falcons job after he delivered the most impressive first interview of all the candidates.

"Coach Quinn is a fighter," Tapp said. "That’s the first thing I’ll always remember about `DQ.’ He came to Seattle my last year and he was, at that point, the best defensive line coach I ever had.

"Coach Quinn always used to show us film on boxers; Mike Tyson, Sonny Liston and all those guys. In the offseason, we did work on our hands from MMA fighting [drills] to help us with our pass rush. And he always taught us how to be better players, to use our individual talents. A lot of coaches in this league do stuff in a cookie-cutter kind of format. Coach Quinn, like Coach Austin, he looks at what your attributes are and what makes you individually successful."

Tapp pointed to current Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett as an example of Quinn shaping and molding a raw talent into an impact talent.

"Michael Bennett was an undrafted free agent my last year in Seattle, when Coach Quinn got on, and I still remember him working with Michael every day to get this guy’s pass-rush ability up to where he could be a great player," Tapp said. "Bennett was able to make the team, but they had to [waive] him and Tampa Bay snatched him up, where he went and made plays. But fortunately he was able to get back to Seattle and work again with Coach Quinn, and now he’s taken off.

"Just see Coach Quinn work with guys to make them better is probably the thing I appreciate the most about him. I actually still have cut-ups of films that Coach Quinn made for me that year in Seattle. I’ve got them on my iPad and I watched them during the season."

In other words, Tapp believes Quinn has the ability to immediately fix a listless Falcons pass rush and an anemic Falcons defense. His Seahawks finished this season ranked first in yards allowed per game (267.1), first in passing yards allowed per game (185.6) and first in points allowed per game (15.9).

Austin’s defense finished first in rushing yards allowed per game (69.3), second in total yards allowed per game (300.9) and tied for second in points allowed per game (17.6).

"I think the best thing that both of them do is they work and use the talent they have on the team and make the scheme where it’s going to put guys in position to make plays," Tapp said. "Those guys can adapt to any situation.

"The definitely both deserve to be head coaches. It’s kind of surreal, though, to see them both as position coaches. I’ve seen the maturation process. Now they’re legitimate head-coaching candidates."