Offseason | 2021

5 Facts About Dan Quinn, New Cowboys DC


FRISCO, Texas – The Cowboys officially named Dan Quinn their new defensive coordinator Tuesday. Here are five facts you might not know about the 50-year-old Quinn:

He began as a small-school guy. Before joining the coaching ranks at William & Mary in 1994, Quinn was a standout defensive lineman at Division III Salisbury University in Maryland. He had 145 career tackles as a two-time captain for the Sea Gulls and was a two-sport athlete, too, breaking the school record for longest hammer throw (168' 88").

He specializes in the D-Line. Like his playing days, Quinn has extensive experience coaching the defensive line. He coached the position at three college programs -- William & Mary, Hofstra and VMI (on the same staff as future Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin) -- before entering the NFL as D-Line coach for the 49ers (2003-04). From there, Quinn held the same role for the Dolphins (2005-06), Jets (2007-09) and Seahawks (2009-10). Along the way, he coached future Hall of Famer Jason Taylor (Dolphins) and worked with former Cowboys defensive lineman Michael Bennett early in Bennett's 2009 rookie season with Seattle as an undrafted free agent.

He coordinated one of the greatest defenses ever. When Gus Bradley left the Seahawks to become the Jaguars' head coach in 2013, Quinn returned to Seattle with a promotion to defensive coordinator and helped the defense continue one of the greatest runs in NFL history. Loaded with Pro Bowl talent, the 2013 Super Bowl champion Seahawks became the first team since the '85 Bears -- widely considered the best defense of all-time -- to lead the league in takeaways, fewest points allowed and fewest yards allowed (source: Chicago Seattle made the Super Bowl again in 2014, losing in the final seconds to the Patriots. From 2012-14, they became the first defense since the 1969-71 Vikings to allow the fewest points in three straight seasons.

He's worked in different defensive schemes. Quinn is generally regarded as a 4-3 coach throughout his career, including his time working for Pete Carroll in Seattle. The Cowboys have used variations of that approach in the past under former defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and former passing game coordinator Kris Richard, also an ex-Seahawks assistant. But Quinn has also coached in a variety of systems. The Jets ran a 3-4 during his time in New York. The Dolphins had a mix of 4-3 and 3-4 under Nick Saban back then. Even at Florida, when Quinn went back to college as defensive coordinator from 2011-12, the Gators used a combination of three- and four-man fronts.

He's yet another assistant on Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy's staff who has previous NFL head coaching experience. (Special teams coordinator John Fassel and offensive line coach Joe Philbin do, too.) Quinn posted a 46-44 record in five and a half seasons with Atlanta from 2015-20. The Falcons and Quinn parted ways after an 0-5 start this season, including a 40-39 loss to the Cowboys in Week 2. But Quinn took Atlanta to the Super Bowl in 2016, losing a thriller to the Patriots, and became just the second coach in Falcons history to lead them to the playoffs in consecutive seasons. McCarthy clearly likes having an experienced staff, and Quinn's hire as DC continues that trend in Dallas.

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