FRISCO, Texas – Dan Quinn is the favorite to become the Dallas Cowboys’ next defensive coordinator, sources say.
Quinn would take over from Mike Nolan, who was sacked last week by coach Mike McCarthy, and inherit a defense that has had one of the worst seasons in Cowboys history.
Quinn, who is flying to Dallas for his first interview, according to a source, was fired as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons after five games in 2020 after having held the position since 2015. He posted a record. 43-42 and won the Falcons. at the Super Bowl in its second season.
Going with Quinn would be a sign of a return to the diet the Cowboys used from 2013-19 under Monte Kiffin, Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard.
Quinn, 50, was the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive coordinator in 2013-14 before becoming Atlanta head coach. He used a 4-3 pattern that primarily used a simple safety look and helped the Seahawks in back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. The Seahawks have finished first in yards and runs allowed in their two seasons.
Owner and general manager Jerry Jones was eager to step away from the system the Cowboys used in McCarthy’s first year because he felt it was too simplistic. Nolan introduced a hybrid defense that would use multiple covers and disguises that would confuse offenses, but that never really happened.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Nolan and the defensive staff had to implement their new defense virtually, with no benefit from fieldwork until a shortened training camp began. The first results were disastrous, with the Cowboys allowing at least 34 points in five of the first six games.
Nolan simplified the scheme at the start of the season, but the defense never really took hold. The Cowboys allowed the most points in franchise history (473) and finished with the 31st race defense.
Part of the problem was not adapting the system to the players. Defensive linemen used to attacking upstream to disrupt play now had to hold back blockers. Linebackers did not play downhill and were often late in their decisions or were swallowed up by larger offensive linemen.
During his two years as the Seattle coordinator, Quinn had a team built on defense with figures including Kam Chancellor, Bobby Wagner, Earl Thomas, and Richard Sherman.
He wouldn’t inherit that type of talent in Dallas. DeMarcus Lawrence is the highest paid Cowboy and performed well in 2020, even though he only had 6.5 sacks. Jaylon Smith led the Cowboys in tackles, but there are questions about his future with the team due to potential salary cap issues. Leighton Vander Esch, a 2018 first-round pick, missed six games with a broken collarbone and a sprained ankle.
Three high school members – safety Xavier Woods and cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis – are on their way to becoming free agents. The same goes for the pass-rusher Aldon Smith.
The Cowboys believe cornerback Trevon Diggs and defensive tackle Neville Gallimore, their 2020 second and third round picks, have high ceilings and second-year safety Donovan Wilson played when he entered the starting lineup. .