A deep dive into Dan Quinn, Part I: Why he was one of the most respected DCs in the game

A deep dive into Dan Quinn, Part I: Why he was one of the most respected DCs in the game

Shall we fire him completely or promote him to head coach next? It may surprise you to learn that fans’ opinions of Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn span this spectrum.

A deep dive into Dan Quinn, Part I: Why he was one of the most respected DCs in the game
A deep dive into Dan Quinn, Part I: Why he was one of the most respected DCs in the game

Everyone has an opinion about who in Big D should take the most blame, and Quinn seems to be on many people’s lists.

However, we wanted to carefully examine all of the available data before throwing in the towel on another coach.

Quinn initially caught everyone’s interest with his amazing work with the Seattle Seahawks.

Gus Bradley, the defensive coordinator who later became the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, was replaced by him.

Quinn inherited a strong defensive line with several young, athletic defensive backs who became known as the Legion of Boom because of their physicality.

While the table was already set for Quinn in Seattle, what he did was incredible.

The Seahawks’ defense was vicious. In each of his two seasons with Seattle, the defense allowed the fewest amount of points each year.

And in 2013, they allowed the fewest amount of points, the fewest amount of yards, and generated the most turnovers in the

league, a feat that has only been done once before by the 1985 Super Bowl-winning Chicago Bears.

Speaking of Super Bowls, the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl in each of Quinn’s two seasons with the team, winning once

when they absolutely destroyed Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos’ record-setting top-scoring offense, 43-8.

After dominating in Seattle, Quinn was offered a head coaching job in Atlanta the following season.

But unlike in Seattle, he did not inherit a talented defensive group.

Before Quinn’s arrival, the Falcons were coming off two straight seasons where the defense gave up the sixth-most points

allowed in the league. They were not good.

Oftentimes they were in the bottom 10 in points allowed, and to this day, only twice over the past decade has the Falcons’

defense ranked in the upper half in points allowed and both times were under Quinn.

It’s crucial to remember that Quinn improved the Falcons defense but didn’t completely change it.

The defense lacked talent prior to moving to Atlanta. The season before he arrived, they had no defensive Pro Bowlers since

all of their talent (Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White, etc.) was on offense. However, that was altered.

They chose Vic Beasley, Grady Jarrett, Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, and De’Vondre Campbell in just Quinn’s first two rounds.

All of a sudden, they had some strong components, and these young guys helped the Falcons defense get better enough to support their explosive offense.

In just Quinn’s second season with the team, the Falcons were in the Super Bowl as he beat his former team, the Seahawks,

and then Mike McCarthy’s Green Bay Packers in the playoffs to get there.

Despite Quinn being a defensive coach, the Falcons’ bread and butter was their offense. The talent was on offense both in players and coaches.

Atlanta’s offensive coaching staff included Kyle Shanahan, Mike McDaniel, and Matt LaFleur, all of whom are current head coaches in the league.

We all know what happened in the Super Bowl.

Quinn’s defense gets a lot of heat for allowing the New England Patriots to come back, but we are also well aware that the

Falcons offense couldn’t do hardly anything in the second half to keep the ball out of Tom Brady’s hands.

Quinn’s team was still competitive even after all the brilliant offensive minds left after the Falcons’ Super Bowl season.

They were defeated 15–10 in a tough divisional game by the Philadelphia Eagles, who went on to win the Super Bowl.

The Falcons’ offense was unable to secure a victory during a crucial four-down stand in the closing moments of the game, as a result of some strange bounces.

Quinn just has one trophy in the five years between 2013 and 2017, but he came very close to taking home two more if he

hadn’t lost two of the most spectacular late-game collapses in Super Bowl history.

The next couple of seasons were rough for Quinn.

Injuries and an overall lack of talent in Atlanta made things challenging.

Falcons owner Author Blank not only fired Quinn but also their general manager.

It’s been three years and the Falcons have only gotten worse, finishing last or second-to-last in an NFC South division that is not very good.

One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure, and he was a welcomed addition to the Cowboys organization when he was hired to be the team’s defensive coordinator in 2021.

Next, we’re going to take a closer look at his time in Dallas as we try to get a sense of whether he’s still one of the most feared defensive coordinators in the game.

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