FRISCO, Texas – It's officially that time of the year.
Thanks to a change to the NFL’s rulebook this fall, teams with head coaching vacancies are allowed to interview candidates from around the league during the last two weeks of the season. If an assistant's employer club gives consent, teams with vacancies can conduct interviews during Week 17 and Week 18, just before the end of the regular season.
To be fair, it's still a bit early in that process. Only two NFL clubs currently have head coaching vacancies, and it's not clear how many more jobs will open in the next two weeks. With all of that said, it's hard not to look ahead and think that Cowboys coordinators Kellen Moore and Dan Quinn will be intriguing names in this NFL hiring cycle.
"I think you have to acknowledge the guys that may have the opportunity," said Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy on Monday. "It's definitely well deserving and they're ready, so you embrace that."
It's easy to read the tea leaves as why either coach might get an opportunity in the coming weeks. Quinn, in his first year as the Cowboys' defensive coordinator, is at the epicenter of the Cowboys' staggering defensive turnaround.
One year after being regarded as one of the worst defenses in the league, the Cowboys are seventh in points allowed and lead the NFL in takeaways with 33 on the year. It's understandable if other clubs would be interested in talking to Quinn, who has plenty experience after a lengthy head coaching stint with the Atlanta Falcons.
For his part, Quinn said Monday he'll be ready if "the right scenario" presented itself, but emphasized that he's having plenty of fun in his current role with the Cowboys.
"I wasn't coming here to look what my next job would be," he said. "I wanted to come in here and have a blast and hopefully kick ass and make an impact."
Moore interviewed for at least one job last year after overseeing one of the more explosive offenses in the league. Despite a rough patch over the last few weeks, his group is currently No. 1 in the NFL in both yards per game and scoring.
Across 15 games this year, the Cowboys are averaging 410 yards of offense and 31 points every time they take the field – so again, it's understandable if Moore is a hot commodity in this hiring cycle. Moore has been asked about his future on several occasions this season, and on Monday he reiterated his stance that his current job is his priority.
"Obviously, if the opportunity shows up that would be awesome. But we've got to take care of this thing first," he said. "We've got to make sure we're still rolling, and this is obviously focus No. 1. We've got to put everything into this thing, and we've got a great opportunity ahead of ourselves."
"If those moments come, I'll be ready for them if the right scenario came about. But honestly, I'm having a blast being right here with this crew and going for it."
Again, this is at least slightly premature. McCarthy said Monday that he hasn't been contacted by anyone about either coach, and several more NFL jobs are bound to open up in the coming week or two.
Even still, the potential for interest is a testament to the job they've done – and the position it's put the Cowboys in this season.
"I think these are hard jobs to get," McCarthy said. "When you see someone put themselves in position, you appreciate that because obviously we as a football team and our operation definitely benefit from that."