DALLAS — Dan Quinn hasn't coached a rep in practice yet, but the Dallas Cowboys are pleased with their new defensive coordinator.
The former Atlanta Falcons coach from 2015-20 was the subject of conversation during Wednesday's press conference at The Star to discuss the contract extension for quarterback Dak Prescott.
"Dan, in my view, has some great skins on the wall," Cowboys owner, president, and general manager Jerry Jones said. "He’s got great experience. He is people-skilled. When you’re around him, you’ll see that. He’s certainly a dedicated football coach, and he’s covered a lot of ground. We have a lot of tape, so to speak, if you were talking about a player. "
Jones also mentioned that the club had information on how Quinn fit their roster. Given that the roster is still primarily composed of players built for the Tampa-2 scheme, which Dallas ran from 2013-19, Quinn is a natural fit.
From 2013-14, Quinn was the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks under coach Pete Carroll, who ran a variant of the defense that the Cowboys were running. All roads lead to Carroll's mentor, Monte Kiffin, who was the Cowboys defensive coordinator in 2013. The next season Rod Marinelli – Dallas' defensive line coach and another Kiffin protege – took over as defensive coordinator.
In 2018, Dallas added the Seahawks' former defensive coordinator Kris Richard to be their passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach.
It is almost as though the Cowboys defense was just missing the right defensive coordinator to run their scheme.
"He was absolutely perfect for us in this situation to come in here," said Jones. "He’ll be very influential, extraordinarily influential in how we put together our personnel on defense. I think he’s got that kind of credibility."
Quinn's reputation is tainted in the minds of the average fan due to the Falcons' historic 28-3 collapse in Super Bowl LI to the New England Patriots, who prevailed 34-28 in overtime. However, strictly as a defensive coordinator, Quinn was a part of the Seahawks' Super Bowl victory at the end of the 2013 campaign and helped Seattle’s title defense the following year before the club succumbed to the Patriots following an infamous Russell Wilson interception on the 1-yard line during Super Bowl XLIX.
Since Quinn's departure, the Seahawks haven't advanced out of the divisional round; the Legion of Boom that Quinn helped form has never been the same since.
According to Prescott, former Falcons players have lauded the Cowboys' move to add Quinn as defensive coordinator.
"What was most prominent, I guess you could say, and most fulfilling to me was hearing the guys that he’s coached and former teammates of mine, whether it be [fullback] Keith Smith or other guys, saying, ‘Hey, you’re going to love this guy,'" said Prescott. "That immediate reaction of obviously he’s instilled so much belief in so many guys that he’s coached for. To be on the offensive side and know your counterparts, your defense is going to get that belief instilled in them."
The Cowboys are also hopeful that Quinn can maximize the talent on the defensive side of the ball.
"I think we’ve got a lot of great players on defense, whether it’s DeMarcus Lawrence, whether it’s Leighton Vander Esch or Jaylon Smith, whether it’s a Randy Gregory, who is up-and-coming, young guys like Gallimore and Trysten Hill," Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones said. "There’s a lot to work with there, and I think he’s going to get it out of them. I think he’s going to put a system in where they can play hard and fast and confident in what they’re doing. And then if we go do our week in the offseason in terms of improving it, I think we’re going to check that box."
The Seahawks haven't been to the conference championship round since Quinn left. Dallas is hopeful that he is their missing piece in helping them qualify for a round that they haven't been to since 1996.
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