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Offseason | 2021

Defensive Identity? Dan Quinn Wants 3 Key Traits


FRISCO, Texas – Dan Quinn is just getting started in Dallas.

Quinn's first task as new Cowboys defensive coordinator: a deep dive on the roster. He has a general grasp, having prepared for the Cowboys as recently as last September when he was Falcons head coach.

Now that he's back in a defense-centric role for the first time since his Seattle days coaching the famed Legion of Boom. Quinn plans to roll up his sleeves and figure out the best way to utilize the current Cowboys personnel.

"I think you don't really have a real sense when you're going somewhere (new) of what a team has, and that's kind of what my challenge is now, to make sure I get a chance to watch everybody on tape, get a chance to see what their strengths are and see if we can put guys in spots to know how to feature them," Quinn said last week on the PFF NFL Podcast.

Quinn is known best for running a 4-3 defense with elements similar to the Cowboys defense run in recent years by former coordinators Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard, also an ex-Seahawks assistant under Pete Carroll.

It remains to be seen exactly how Quinn's system will look, but he emphasized that he prioritizes "players first over the scheme part of it."

"There will certainly be guidelines that you want to fit guys into, but more than anything, what do you have and how to feature guys will drive a little bit of how you can play. That's to me the top of the pile," Quinn told PFF. "Scheme-wise everybody has enough defensive flexibility to last for a while. It's about how to put guys in the best spots and also having guys who can play significant roles of doing certain things really, really well. So that's what I'm looking forward to, getting a chance to visit and see these players (on film) and find out all the unique stuff they have."

Scheme aside, there's a certain way he wants a unit to play: "the physicality, the speed, the relentless effort."

"Those are things that you always want everybody to see us when we're playing," he said. "So that's A, No. 1, top of the pile for sure, creating that identity that when everybody sees us play, you know exactly what you're going to get."

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