Cowboys Announce Hiring of Big-Name Defensive Coordinator [LOOK]

Stephon Gilmore

Getty Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is known for making splashy trades.

Done deal.

After wowing front-office brass via Zoom, former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn flew to Dallas on Monday and agreed to become the Cowboys‘ next defensive coordinator, the team announced, as expected.

Per media reports, Quinn signed a three-year contract.

He put pen to paper following an in-person meeting with Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones and vice president Stephen Jones. Quinn beat out two other candidates for the position: Falcons secondary coach/pass game coordinator Joe Whitt Jr. and Carolina Panthers secondary coach Jason Simmons.

The club fulfilled the NFL’s Rooney Rule by interviewing Whitt.

Quinn will replace 2020 one-and-done DC Mike Nolan, who was fired last Friday after his defense, albeit injury-marred, allowed the most points (473) in franchise history — 29.6 points per game — blowing past the previous record (436) set in 2010. The unit also ceded the second-most yards (6,183), finishing 31st against the run (158.8 yards per game) and 23rd in total YPG (384.4).

Defensive line coach Jim Tomsula was fired along with Nolan.

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Background on Quinn

The 50-year-old fizzled in Atlanta following the team’s run to Super Bowl 51. He compiled a 43-42 record across six seasons as the head man and was pink-slipped after an 0-5 start in 2020.

Prior to that, however, Quinn was touted as an elite defensive mind who spearheaded the Seattle Seahawks’ historically dominant unit from 2013-14 — his first NFL coordinating job. In 2013, Seattle allowed the fewest yards and points in the league en route to a resounding Super Bowl 48 blowout of the Denver Broncos.

Quinn returned to the Seahawks following a two-year stint as Florida’s DC and DL coach. Before, he worked as Seattle’s assistant HC and DL coach from 2009-2010, the New York Jets’ DL coach from 2007-08, the Miami Dolphins’ DL coach from 2005-06, and the San Francisco 49ers’ DL coach from 2003-04.

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Scheme Switch?

The Cowboys moved from a 4-3 defense under Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard to a 3-4 system under Nolan, and the results were … well, obviously disastrous. The incumbent personnel — including high-priced defenders DeMarcus Lawrence and Jaylon Smith — was an ill fit for what Nolan hoped to accomplish, and free-agent additions such as Dontari Poe never meshed, either.

Some of this was due to Nolan’s oversized playbook, the bone of contention to many players. Part of it, also, was the toll the COVID-19 pandemic took on the sport, prohibiting teams from holding normal offseason workouts, training camp, and preseason games.

“I totally underestimated the impact of not being with the team early through the spring and through training camp,” Jerry Jones admitted last Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan. “With the change in coaching, and if you will, especially on the defensive side of the line, if you will, a change in technique, a change in some philosophy there.”

Quinn ran a 4-3 scheme in Seattle and Atlanta and should begin to install it in Dallas, once he gets boots on the ground — hopefully in a more conventional offseason. This is good news for Lawrence, who logged 6.5 sacks in the second year of his $105 million mega-pact.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL

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