When Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn spoke with the Philadelphia media over the phone Sunday, he began with a timely, fitting joke.
"I understand you have some quarterback questions today so Matt Ryan will be our quarterback," Quinn told reporters after earlier in the day, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson would not answer questions on who would start at quarterback in Week 1.
With the Eagles and Falcons set to square off in front of a national audience to begin the 2018 NFL season on Thursday night, the Eagles have still not officially named their starting quarterback as Carson Wentz has yet to be cleared for contact.
But no matter who is relaying the play calls for the Eagles when Thursday night comes around, Quinn said the preparation for Philadelphia's game plan does not change.
"We're going to prepare for the offense," Quinn said. "Both guys have shown they have full command of everything. ... Are there small tweaks that could take place? Yeah. But by and large, I thought that both guys did a really good job at handling the whole thing. More than anything, that's out of our control so we're just going to do our best to get our preparation right and really make the preparation about us."
Pederson said Sunday, as he had in previous press conferences, that even if he knows privately who will start Week 1, he will not reveal it publicly and give the Falcons a tactical advantage. But Quinn played down that advantage.
He specified that if it were between two former Eagles Hall of Fame quarterbacks Ron Jaworski and Randall Cunningham, whose games differ totally, then not naming the starter would make it difficult for the opposing defense. But between Foles and Wentz, the play styles are relatively similar.
"I think it depends on whether style was so drastically different," Quinn said. "But these two guys are really equipped to run it in similar fashions so in this instance, not. But I recognize that it's all part of the gamesmanship and not wanting to tip but all we can do is control what we can for the offense and whoever they put out there, either, we need to be ready to rock."
The Falcons' 2018 campaign will begin where the 2017 season finished: at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The Falcons lost to the Eagles 15-10 in the NFC Divisional Round after Atlanta was denied on four-straight plays from inside the 10-yard line with less than two minutes to play. The last play was an incomplete end zone pass to wide receiver Julio Jones.
Quinn said last season's finish isn't something that has been weighing the team down over the offseason. But it is something from which the team can learn as they play the Eagles in a playoff-caliber atmosphere on Thursday.
"When our opportunities come, we've got to nail them," Quinn said. "And certainly when you don't, there are consequences for it. Like most games, it doesn't usually come down to one, and in that one, it came down to some other shots in the end zone as well, but I never really get disappointed when we've got Matt (Ryan) throwing to Julio. Those are usually good endings. On that one, it wasn't, but at the end of it, I need to give credit to them too for playing defense, standing up down there. Those are good, competitive battles, and that's kind of what you should expect from two good teams."
The Eagles will raise their Super Bowl LII banner on Thursday night in what should be one final celebration of what the team accomplished last season before 2018 begins. While the Falcons, a victim of the Eagles' run last season, will look to spoil the fun in the NFL's Kickoff game, Quinn has a lot of respect for the Eagles' playoff performances last year.
"Number one, they beat us, and we tip our hat to them," Quinn said. "It was a close, contested game just as you expect playoff games to be, then they kind of erupted from there. ... And then I thought their ability to match and go for it in a big game and take chances really showed the confidence in the team and what they stood for. I certainly came away impressed."