SEATTLE — When Dan Quinn left Seattle for his opportunity to be an NFL head coach in Atlanta, he wanted to create an identity unique to the Falcons.
Quinn didn't want Atlanta to be a replica of what he experienced in Seattle, even if the principles he wanted for the Falcons were similar.
"Can the team be featured in the very best way of how we wanted to utilize the players? The messaging, the identity, the toughness that we wanted to play with, having that really come to life?" Quinn said. "I think it took going through some tough lessons and developing some resiliency through last year with some difficult losses. ... Those were scars that were painful as hell to go through, but on the other side of it we grew tougher, we grew stronger."
Quinn's former team will get an up-close look at what he's created in Atlanta when the Seahawks host the Falcons on Sunday in a clash of teams that look to be among the top contenders in the NFC.
It's an enticing matchup, featuring Atlanta's No. 1 offense against Seattle's top-ranked defense that's had an extra week of rest and preparation. And it's a reunion for Quinn to see the defense he helped create in Seattle during his two seasons as coordinator, and whether it can slow down Matt Ryan and the Falcons.
"It's going to be fun. It's going to be a fun matchup for our defense to go up against their offense," Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said. "They throw the ball a whole lot, Matt Ryan has been having a phenomenal year, so we're going to have a good time with that challenge."
The Falcons went down this path a year ago, starting 6-1 before losing six straight, finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs, so there is still hesitation about the validity of Atlanta's start this season. But a win in Denver , followed by a win in Seattle would certainly quiet doubters.
"When something bad goes bad, you have to forget it and get the next play. You can't let that determine the outcome of the game if you had one bad play," Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones said. "That's how we were last year as a team. One negative thing happened and then it was like a snowball effect on us. This year we're definitely a different ballclub as far as the mentality of the team."