FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- O'Brien Schofield spent two seasons in Seattle with Dan Quinn as his defensive coordinator, so Schofield knows the all-inclusive mentality Quinn possesses.
But not even Schofield could imagine how involved Quinn would be upon becoming a head coach. The Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker/defensive end, who followed Quinn to Atlanta, developed more of an appreciation for Quinn's hands-on approach when the defensive line was put through the "crucible" back in the summer. The drill, set up in the team's indoor facility, entailed a five-step circuit of weightlifting, bag drills, sleds, hurdles and medicine ball tosses. The participants spent five minutes at each station.
"And he was there going through every one of those drills with us," Schofield said of Quinn. "He did everything we were doing. He wasn't lagging. He was right there with us. I think he started gaining that respect with a lot of guys right then because guys were like, 'Is this real? Is coach really going to go through this?' I think it's easier to follow someone like that."
Veteran nose tackle Paul Soliai agreed.
"I thought it was cool," Soliai said. "I've never had a coach like that who got involved with his players. It's nice that he cares about us like that. That's somebody I'm going to play for. Whatever he wants me to do, on and off the field, I'm going to do because he likes doing everything with us. It's like a family, so I respect whatever he does."
Quinn didn't complete those exercises just for show. In fact, it's part of his daily routine to be involved with the players. He runs through the bag drills at the beginning of practice and puts on the boxing mitts to work on punch moves with his pass-rushers. Quinn even will throw on a yellow beanie and run down the field in kickoff coverage during special-teams drills.
Just the other day, Quinn jogged down and took on a block from fullback Patrick DiMarco.
"I was kind of like, 'Do I bow up or do I lay off a little bit?' DiMarco said with a laugh. "I was like, 'I'll just find a good median.' He's out there when we do our walk-throughs, too. When I'm running at him and have to reach his outside shoulder, he's going to make it hard for me to do it. He's going to work you. It's just who he is. He's a dog. He's going to work his butt off, and he's going to do everything he can to help us win."
Quinn's philosophy is obviously working for the Falcons, who will try to improve to 5-0 for just the second time in franchise history (2012) Sunday when they take on the 2-2 Washington Redskins. He's stressed unity from the outset and has developed a competitive atmosphere with simple things such as having home run derbies and setting up a basketball hoop in the meeting room for shooting contests. He also put together the Falcons' version of "Jeopardy!" without the aid of Alex Trebek.
"It's just funny because you never know what questions he's going to put up," Schofield said. "It's something fun to keep you on your toes."
Quinn's involvement in practice is from beginning to end. Almost daily, you'll find him maneuvering up and down the field 30 minutes after the session working with practice-squad player Tyler Starr on technique. It's not just about the starters. Again, he's all-inclusive.
"DQ's always out there breaking a sweat," linebacker Paul Worrilow said. "I don't really know how to put it, but it's a good thing. It's just awesome."