An In-Depth Look at (Likely) New Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn

The Seahawks DC Appears Headed to Atlanta

Quinn Headed to ATL.


What a strange off-season it’s already been for Falcons fans. First, there was the whole restructuring / job change thing with Dimitroff and Pioli that’s still pretty foggy to most. Many fans were very upset, and some still are, that Dimitroff skated out with his job while Smith was canned. Then most of us fans started getting really anxious and antsy when jobs were starting to get filled up and it appeared the Falcons were just sitting on their hands. There was also a creeping fear that Dimitroff and Pioli were angling to bring in Josh McDaniels (still technically not in the clear, but pretty much so with the Shanahan hire) and many were fearing disaster. Despite all the anxiousness, teeth gnashing, and angst, it appears that Blank, the firm they hired (Korn-Ferry), and the Falcons have gotten it right. Despite the fact that the Falcons officially still don’t have a coach, all other NFL vacancies have been filled. Quinn has to be considered one of the best catches of any of the candidates, including last year’s hires as well. A look at the (very likely) soon-to-be Atlanta Falcons new head coach…

High School and College

Quinn in NY

Quinn played high school football in New Jersey at Morristown High School, which is why many thought him going to the Jets was a natural fit. He then attended Salisbury University in Maryland. There he was a four year starter in both football and track and was named captain for his final two years at Salisbury. Quinn played defensive line and even broke the record for the hammer throw in the NCAA Track Championships that year. He was inducted into the Salisbury University Hall of Fame in 2005.

Early Coaching Career

Like the majority of coaches, Quinn had to start pretty small and work his way up. He coached the defensive line at William & Mary and Virginia Military Institute for a year apiece (1994 and 1995, respectively). The New Jersey native then moved to Hofstra University and spent the next 5 years there, coaching the defensive line with his last year as defensive coordinator.

A Break into the NFL – Niners and Dolphins

Quinn as Florida DC

Quinn then got his biggest break when he landed a job with the San Francisco 49ers as the Defense Quality Control assistant. Steve Mariucci was the head coach and the great Bill Walsh was still on as a consultant for the 2001 and 2002 seasons. They went 12-4 and lost the wild card game in 2001. The following year they went 10-6, won the wild card game and lost in the divisional round to eventual Super Bowl Champion Bucs. Quinn moved into the defensive line position for the 2003 and 2004 seasons after the Niners dumped another highly successful coach (sound familiar?) and coached the DL under Dennis Erickson and (ironically) worked for Jim Mora Jr. as the defensive coordinator. They went 7-9 in ‘03 and 2-14 in ‘04.

After the Niners cleaned house Quinn landed in Miami under Nick Saban. He filled the same role there as well and the coaching roster was chock full of notable names (Will Muschamp – DC, Scott Linehan – OC, Jason Garrett – QBs, Keith Armstrong – Special Teams, Glenn Pires – Defense Quality Control). They went 9-7 and missed the playoffs. He held the same position in 2006 where they went 6-10, missed the playoffs, and Saban was off to Alabama.

Jets and Seahawks

Quinn Made his Way Back to Seattle

Quinn found himself with the Jets for the next two seasons, coaching under Eric Mangini. The Jets went 4-12 in 2007 and 9-7 in 2009. After Mangini was fired and Rex Ryan came in, Quinn found his way to Seattle. Quinn reunited with Jim Mora when he became head coach of the Seahawks. Gus Bradley was the defensive coordinator then and after Mora was let go after just one year and a 5-11 record, Pete Carroll came in as head coach in 2010. Quinn stayed on as the DL coach for Carroll and they went 7-9.

Florida Gators Defensive Coordinator

Quinn finally made the jump to defensive coordinator, but it came when he reunited with Will Muschamp after he took over as head coach of the Florida Gators. In the first year as the Gators DC, they went 7-6 and ranked 21st in the NCAA in points allowed. The next year Florida went 11-2 went to the Sugar Bowl and lost to Louisville. The defense under Quinn? It ranked 5th in the NCAA in points allowed.

Back to the Seahawks

After Gus Bradley left the defensive coordinator to take over as the Jacksonville Jaguars new head coach, Carroll brought Quinn back to be the Seahawks defensive coordinator and the rest is history.

Defensive Credit: Carroll, Bradley, or Quinn?

Even though the vast majority of fans are extremely excited to get Quinn headed to Atlanta as our next head coach, there are doubters (such as Fran Tarkenton for gosh sake) that say Quinn simply rode the coattails of Gus Bradley and Pete Carroll building the defense and him taking them to two Super Bowls. Here’s the stats for Gus Bradley’s defense and their season records:

Year — (Record) — Total Def — Points per Gm — Pass Def — Rush Def — Sacks

2009 — (5-11) — 24th —  25th — 15th — 30th — 26th

2010 — (7-9) — 27th — 25th — 27th — 21st — 20th (Won Wild Card / Lost Div)

2011 — (7-9) — 9th — 7th — 11th — 15th — 11th

2012 — (11-5) — 4th — 1st — 6th — 10th — 14th (Won Wild Card / Lost Div)

Dan Quinn as DC

2013 — (13-3) — 1st — 1st — 1st — 7th — 8th (Super Bowl Champs)

2014 — (12-4) — 1st — 1st — 1st — 3rd — 20th (Super Bowl vs. Patriots)

While Bradley certainly helped build the defense and started to really build it towards the top in his last year of 2012, those numbers and ranks simply don’t compare to Quinn’s. And it’s not as though Bradley didn’t have plenty of time to accomplish what Quinn did as DC. Obviously, it’s a team game and the emergence of Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson was a huge part of the run. If Quinn had only done it for one year, than the doubters could use the coattail excuse, but seeing as he proceeded to do it two years in a row flies in the face of that idea.

Coached Under Many Great HC’s, including Carroll

The above article from Robert Klemko is an excellent piece on Quinn that profiled him in August training camp and brings up several points that credit Quinn in pushing the Seahawks over the top. Among them recruiting Michael Bennett to come to Seattle even after they’d just signed Cliff Avril a day earlier. Then there’s also his time at Florida as defensive coordinator. His first year as DC saw them rank 21st in the NCAA, but in his second year they vaulted all the way to 5th and helped pave the way for a 11-2 season and a Sugar Bowl berth.

Of course the head coach will always get credit for the final product and Carroll is a defensive mastermind in his own right. Gus Bradley, Pete Carroll, and GM John Schneider all played a major role in Seattle’s success, as did Quinn. But saying that Quinn simply rode the coattails of others to a Super Bowl title, a repeat Super Bowl berth, and likely head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, just isn’t true. In fact, he was a finalist for both the Browns and Vikings job last year and was at the top of most teams that interviewed him this year. It appears that Blank and the Falcons waited for the best for last. This quote alone should make Falcons fans very happy:

“It’s about being developmental,” Quinn says. “How much can you find out about this player? And what can you draw out of him? It takes a lot of time and effort. Those relationships are really important.”

213 thoughts on “An In-Depth Look at (Likely) New Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn

  1. Grits Blitz

    marko – If JPP wants out of NY badly enough, at 25, where’s the downside? Maybe Atlanta can become the fountain of youth for some defensive players, IF and ONLY IF they’re still in their prime! (Only if “the price is right” would it appear to make sense, in his case, to full court press him… if he’s already been labeled injury-prone.)

  2. Grits Blitz

    marko – Very pointed CBS article. Thanks! Glad someone else agrees we need a major upgrade in trench warfare!
    Also note others throughout the country see the need for a “CULTURE CHANGE” and the FO dysfunction.
    Singing to the choir – on time and on cue!

  3. dawsondevitt Post author

    Great Friday Morn’ Cage!!!! — I see we’re starting to get into some free agency discussion. Sounds great and head straight for it. But you all know me that for my own sanity, I need to play it out a little slower because I will go stir crazy I get into something too early (see: burnout), but you guys and gals are making excellent points across the board.

    Regarding free agency……………

    Not sure if anyone else has brought this up, but we likely will have an advantage that other teams won’t have: Dan Quinn. Of course, some players will always be guided by the money and that’s all they care about. But I guarantee you that some care about winning, improving, and working for a great defensive mind like Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril did. They will see what that defense has done the last two years and will definitely give us a look on the defensive side of the ball. Have we gotten any defensive free agent studs since Mike Smith has been head coach? Off the top of my head, I can’t think of ANY! And I said studs, not scrubs. Osi? Soliai? Tyson Jackson? Mike Peterson? Dwight Lowery? Josh Wilson? Asante Samuel @ 33? Erik Coleman? Please correct me if I’ve missed someone. Do you think that was a coincidence?

        1. dawsondevitt Post author

          SG — Thanks for the heads up buddy. Here’s the list that I found………….

          When the leadership at Terminus Legion calculated the results of the voting, they found five names that stood at as drawing the most support:

          1. Black Harts
          2. Empire
          3. Firebirds
          4. Resurgents
          5. Terminus

          Terminus is the obvious choice and I like it a lot. I could live with Resurgents. But if they call it the Empire or Firebirds, I will not be purchasing season tickets. Firebirds sounds like a damn cartoon or something.

  4. JB Falcon

    Matt Ryan. On whether he’ll stay in town for the Super Bowl: “No. I’m flying back to Atlanta Monday. I’m at the point now where I’m not going to the Super Bowl until I’m playing in it.”

    1. Seminole Warrior

      Amen. I’m with Matt. I’m at the point where I do not want to watch it until we are in it. God, PLEASE, make our dream come true!! Another Super Bowl appearance with a victory this time, please?

    1. Seminole Warrior


      Thanks for the reminder. I most certainly will be tuning it to see it. That series, “A Football Life” is without a doubt, the best programming on the NFL Network, bar none.

      For those that have not seen it or any of them, you can see some of them on You Tube. And as a football fan, trust me, they are worth the look.

  5. Seminole Warrior

    What’s Up Cage

    Senior Bowl tomorrow. If it was not so darn far to drive to Mobile on a short weekend, I would check it out. But Cocoa and the Tee Sports team will be watching for sure.

    There are three names on the list that DO Led posted that also have caught the eye of Cocoa. One in particular would fill a very critical need.

    Regardless of what scheme (4-3 or 3-4), the Tee Pee is finding some darn good value already in the process. The following areas have been identified as positions of critical need.

    RB Depth
    Linebacker (emphasis on coverage skills as well as pass rush ability)
    Tight End
    Offensive tackle
    Offensive guard
    Free safety

    1. Paddy O

      LB’s: speed and size – or at least ONE of those characteristics. Hate seeing Worrilow getting bulldozed and chasing.

  6. JJ

    Cagers, Due to winters’ return, Im remaking this incredible chili recipe that I found a few weeks ago. Great thing about this recipe is cost and number of ingredients. Have over a hundred cookbooks (tks mom) and love all the super-star celebrities on food network, but it cost a fortune to buy all their ingredients. This is simple damm good chili!

    Back to falcons….DE in 1st, LB in 2nd.

    1. JB Falcon

      JJ, we made a pot of that chile two weekends ago but we used 5 lbs of meat and doubled everything else. We ate chile every day for lunch for a week and then gave some to a neighbor. They loved it!

  7. Grits Blitz

    From the Off The Wall Dept. while we wait for the SB & our new HC…
    Remember the starting O-lineman for the Dolphins that got suspended for bullying another teammate? (Name escapes me.) If he’s not still in Goodell hades, anybody heard if any other team has taken a flyer on him? Would he be automatic poison for any team? Raiders used to be notorious for giving 2nd chances to bad boys. Dude must have some talent to have been a starter. If he has sincerely transformed his thinking and actions, wonder if it would be worth giving him a chance here? If he hasn’t, forget all about him playing anywhere in the NFL. Anyway, doubt Quinn, being new, would want to go fishing in that pond at this initial, early stage anyway. Just hope he’ll be fishing somewhere – soon and often – until he lands all the “catches of the day” we need to finally get the job done.
    Back to the air traffic control tower. Over.

  8. Arno

    An little note on what KShanahan went through in CLE, from espn: “Though the team said football decisions were made without influence or pressure, some coaches and many players had the clear perception the business and marketing end of the team favored the guy [Manziel] whose jerseys would sell.” For some coaches, no doubt we should interpret Kyle Shanahan. After Manziel’s frolics, imagine how happy Shanahan is feeling right now. MRyan thinks partying means drinking an extra Powerade in the filmroom.

    1. Chop Buster

      I don’t care which of these alternatives happen, as long as Baker doesn’t return to this team–at least not as a starter.

  9. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Paddy O (1/22 @ 4:55 pm) – According to SBNation, Sam Baker will have the 4th highest cap hit on the Falcons’ roster for 2015 at $7.3 mil. If the Falcons cut SB now they would have $9.2 in dead money – 2nd only to Matt Ryan. Baker’s contract expires in 2019…. however, his dead money drops to $3.6 mil after the 2016 season (from Falcons are stuck with him through 2016 unless he retires.

    The Time Is Now (1/22@ 8:32 pm) – I had lot’s of stuff going on with my Poker & holidays, but went to The Cage on google and figured out how to get back with you guys, Sorry, guess I pretty much repeated what you have already said before I read your comment on SB. Baker’s going to be the highest priced “depth” in the NFL in 2015…. too expensive to cut – as you said. I’ve been out of touch and missed a lot of comments so I will likely repeat some points already made by you guys. Bare with me please til I catch up.

    Waynester (1/23 @ 6:51 am) – Well I admit I could have gotten back before now but as you said, not much to contribute yet, until I get into study mode with the draft & FA’s…. also 2014, as I suspected, would be a down year but further down than I thought.

    Falcons haven’t signed Quinn yet but guess he’s the next guy. From what I have read Quinn is a shrewd judge of talent… that is what I think Blank sees in him that they do not currently have on the staff. Scott Pioli is hit & miss (more miss) and Blank has placed Dimwitroff on leave with pay basically. If Dimwittroff were to look in the mirror labeled GM he would see nothing. Basically you can throw the managerial chart in the trash…. it’s Quinn reporting to Blank – eliminating Pioli & Dimwittroff from the decision making when it comes to the draft or FA’s. Also, Quinn will evaluate the talent on hand (roster) & he & Blank will decide on who goes or stays. Pioli & Dimwitroff will handle the boring part: office work. Blank, at his age, doesn’t have the time or patience to deal with failure.

  10. Wings

    Flo-Ri-Duh good to see you back.

    And with Quinn, we should do things more the Seahawks way than the Jaguars way as in the past. I will be so happy to see some of the ineptness vanish.

  11. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Seminole Warrior – All arrows point to Falcons drafting defense # 1 (8th). I don’t see any advantage to moving up or down with this pick due to the draft depth – unless Mariota or Winston were to drop to the Falcons. Then they could possibly trade with a QB desperate team not to far behind them if the price is right. That’s not likely as I see both QB’s gone before the 8th pick.

    Most say Leonard Williams & Randy Gregory will be gone before #8 possibly leaving:
    Shane Ray
    Vic Beasley
    Dante Fowler

    How does Cocoa rate these guys (in order of draft preference, considering that Atlanta will likely move to a base 4/3 defense in 2015? With a pick this high the guy MUST be a 3 down player – meaning he has to rush the QB and defend the run effectively and cover receivers – not to mention actually be able to tackle.


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