Phoenix, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - He didn't go out like he wanted but Dan Quinn's reputation was already secured in Arthur Blank's mind.
The worst-kept secret in football unveiled itself Monday when Quinn, one of the key architects of the generation's best defense in Seattle, was officially named the new head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.
"This is an exciting day for the Atlanta Falcons franchise and our fans," said Blank, the Falcons' owner. "Dan is a talented football coach who has a deep and diverse history in the game, which will serve us well. As we got to know Dan during the interview process, it became clear that he has a definitive plan for our football team and what it will take to win on a consistent basis."
It was bittersweet for Quinn, who was less than 24 hours off a gut-wrenching 28-24 Super Bowl defeat to New England, one in which it was the Pats' defense which made the signature play, a goal-line interception by little known cornerback Malcolm Butler in the waning seconds.
Quinn refused to discuss his impending move south after Super Bowl XLIX, preferring to honor the Seahawks and the game itself, a masterpiece which set a new U.S. television record with an average of 114 million viewers tuned in.
"In respect to this game, what a terrific game we were all a part of," Quinn said Sunday night. "So for tonight, I'd like to make the focus all about our players and both teams.
"It was a great contest. You could see how hard guys played. As a coach, that's really what you're looking for, great effort first. You see the guys in the locker room, they gave everything they had. You can't ask for more than that as a coach."
Quinn's top charges did leave it out on the field.
All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman played with a compression sleeve on what was described as a hyperextended elbow until reports emerged after the game that the Stanford product would need Tommy John surgery to repair ligament damage.
Meanwhile, impact safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor also played hurt with Thomas wearing a harness to protect a dislocated shoulder suffered in the NFC Championship Game against Green Bay, and Chancellor sporting a brace on a shaky knee tweaked in practice two days before the Super Bowl.
"My respect for so many of these players is so high, and we're so connected," Quinn said. "I really feel for them. They put everything they had into this."
That admiration is a two-day street and few Seattle defenders are feeling abandoned, with linebacker K.J. Wright calling his now ex-mentor "a defensive mastermind," while also praising the Falcons for waiting out the process and sticking with a guy who wasn't free until Feb. 2.
"I think he'll be a really good head coach," Wright told The Sports Network. "I know a lot of guys want him (back), but he should've been gone last year with what he did.
"Let's talk Atlanta. They've got a good offense, but the defense is struggling. So if he comes out there and gets that defense right, they're an automatic playoff team."
Quinn's stifling defense was the calling card in the Pacific Northwest in the most offensively-skewed era in pro football history and it's built on the K.I.S.S. principle -- keep it simple stupid.
"We just honestly try to find unique guys and how fast we can play," Quinn said when describing his philosophy. "Then, within each team, there are unique guys and how you feature the players. Really, it is just about featuring the guys and the roles they can do best."
The unique guys in Seattle for Quinn were athletic middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and the best secondary in football, led by Sherman as well as Thomas and Chancellor.
"(The Falcons) are getting a great coach," Wagner said. "I feel like he's very open and easy to talk with. It's not like you have to do it his way. He's going to talk to you and say why his way is great. I think the biggest thing is that he's a great communicator."
The cupboard is not similarly stacked in Atlanta, though, where the Falcons allowed an NFL-worst 398.3 yards per game in 2014, a number fueled by their appalling third-down defense which permitted opponents to convert at nearly a 50 percent clip (46.8).
There is some moldable clay, however, especially at cornerback where Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford showed significant upside at times. Meanwhile, Quinn is set to get control of the Falcons' 53-man roster so expect significant changes in the front seven.
"I am grateful for this opportunity, and I am excited to be the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons," Quinn said. "This felt like the right fit from the beginning, and I want to thank Mr. Blank for his resolve as this was an extended and complicated process. My goal is to build upon the foundation that has been laid here and to play a physical brand of football as we build a championship caliber team."