The Seahawks DC Appears Headed to Atlanta
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 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 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 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.
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.”