Quinn was already in the hot seat with the Falcons ahead of a 0-5 start that included Atlanta becoming the first team in NFL history to lose back-to-back games after leading by at least 15 points in the fourth quarter. One of those losses was to the Cowboys.
Quinn, 50, replaces Mike Nolan, who only lasted one season as first-year coach Mike McCarthy’s most important recruiter. Dallas allowed a franchise record of 473 points (29.6 per game) and was 31st in the NFL in run defense with a 6-10 record. The Cowboys also fired defensive line coach Jim Tomsula.
Dallas tried to implement a new schedule with no in-person work during the offseason due to the pandemic, and the defense was plagued by failed assignments as well as questions about the effort as the team started 3 -9. Owner Jerry Jones has suggested the Cowboys have tried too hard to change given the restrictions COVID-19 brings.
McCarthy never called Dallas’ pattern a 3-4, although it is closer to that than the 4-3 approach that should come back with Quinn. His top priority will be fixing a running defense that nearly gave up 300 rushing yards in one game twice. Dallas allowed a franchise record of 307 rushing yards in a 49-38 loss to Cleveland.
The Cowboys moved to 4-3 in 2013 when Rod Marinelli joined the staff and eventually became defensive coordinator. Marinelli left with coach Jason Garrett after the 2019 season, when Dallas fell short of high expectations and missed the playoffs.
Quinn was hired from Atlanta in 2015 after two seasons as Seattle’s defensive coordinator. The Seahawks went to the Super Bowl both years, winning the first with Quinn overseeing the defense of the “Boom Legion” which included star defensive backs Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas with linebacker Bobby Wagner.
The Falcons reached the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history in Quinn’s second season. Atlanta took a 28-3 lead in the second half, losing to New England 34-28 in overtime four years ago.
Quinn was 43-42 overall in Atlanta, but only 14-23 since the start of the 2018 season. Since 2001, Quinn has spent almost two years coaching in the NFL. He was Florida’s defensive coordinator for two seasons before joining the Seahawks. Quinn coached the defensive line in Seattle for two years before moving to Florida.