Dallas Cowboys rumors: Dan Quinn top candidate to become Mike McCarthy’s defensive coordinator

By Matt Johnson
Nov 12, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn shows emotion against the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy isn’t wasting time searching for the team’s next defensive coordinator. Days after firing Mike Nolan following an awful 2020 season, a top candidate has emerged for one of the most prominent roles on McCarthy’s coaching staff.

With many non-playoff teams looking for their next head coach, Dallas is taking advantage of its opening at defensive coordinator. Interviews are already underway, with multiple candidates already speaking to McCarthy through Zoom calls. Now, a hot name is emerging to become the next defensive play-caller in Dallas.

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Dan Quinn emerging as top candidate to become Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn spent three hours on Saturday interviewing for the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive coordinator position.

Quinn, who was fired by the Falcons in October, isn’t the first candidate to speak to the Cowboys. Mike McCarthy also interviewed Carolina Panthers defensive passing game coordinator Jason Simmons and Atlanta’s secondary coach Joe Whitt Jr.

Related: Joe Whitt Jr. emerging as target to become Dallas Cowboys’ defensive coordinator

Both assistant coaches have worked on McCarthy’s coaching staff in the past, during his tenure with the Green Bay Packers. Given he hired Nolan, a close friend, many expected that McCarthy would once again bring on a coach who he had a strong personal relationship with.

However, per Ian Rapoport, the job could be Quinn’s to lose. He is flying to Dallas on Monday for an in-person interview, which could be the final step in the hiring process. If all goes well, a deal could be signed to him the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator for the 2021 NFL season.

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While the 50-year-old’s tenure in Atlanta ended with his termination, he is respected around the NFL as a bright defensive mind. Before becoming a head coach in 2015, he served as the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive coordinator (2013-’14). During his brief tenure in Seattle, the team boasted one of the NFL’s best defenses.

Serving as the team’s defensive play-caller in 2013, Seattle allowed the fewest total yards (273.6) and points (14.4) per game. Passing against the Seahawks was next to impossible, with opposing passers averaging a 63.4 quarterback rating in the regular season and completing just 59% of pass attempts.

After winning the Super Bowl in 2013, Quinn’s defense was just as sharp the following season. Opponents averaged 267.1 total yards and 15.9 points per game during the 2014 regular season. Not only did Quinn’s defensive scheme thrive, but he was also beloved by players.

If hired by the Dallas Cowboys, Quinn will have his work cut out for him. Opponents averaged 29.6 points in 2020, with quarterbacks posting a 34/10 TD/INT ratio and a 100.4 quarterback rating. If talent is brought in via the 2021 NFL Draft, Quinn could salvage this defense and help turn things around in 2021.