The Cowboys contributed to Dan Quinn’s firing. Now they may contribute to his hiring.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the former Atlanta Falcons head coach is interviewing for the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator vacancy in-person on Monday, and he’s considered the “favorite” to land the gig.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport provided more details: Quinn spoke with Dallas officials via Zoom on Saturday and is the “top candidate” to succeed Nolan. A deal “could come today,” per Rapoport.
In addition to Quinn, the Cowboys have also interviewed Atlanta Falcons secondary coach/pass game coordinator Joe Whitt Jr. and met with in-house candidate George Edwards, who spent the 2020 season as a senior defensive assistant.
Along with defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, Nolan was dismissed 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).
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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 Seatle’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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Whitt Was Supposed Frontrunner
My, how quickly things change. The Cowboys interviewed Whitt on Sunday; Rapoport reported he “has been the target for a few days,” and there’s “a lot of familiarity for a very good coach.”
Whitt knows Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy from their time in Green Bay; Sports Illustrated’s Mike Fisher reports the latter pushed for the former before settling on Nolan this past offseason. The 42-year-old started as Green Bay’s defensive quality coach in 2008, following one season as Atlanta’s assistant defensive backs coach. He was promoted to the Packers’ cornerbacks coach in 2009 and to pass game coordinator in 2018.
The Cleveland Browns hired Whitt in his current role in 2019 before he took the same job, under Quinn, with the Falcons, whose secondary was … not great this season, surrendering a league-worst 293.6 passing yards per game. The unit also ranked 17th in interceptions (12).
McCarthy received an up-close look at Whitt’s bunch amid the Cowboys’ miraculous Week 2 comeback win over Atlanta. Quarterback Dak Prescott went 34-of-47 and amassed 450 air yards in the stunning 40-39 victory, spawning a pair of 100-yard receivers (CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper).
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL