Two days away from his team’s NFL wild-card playoff exit, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn began a busy week of head-coaching interviews by meeting with the Broncos in Texas.
The Broncos announced at 7:40 p.m. Tuesday that they had completed their interview with Quinn.
Quinn is the fifth candidate to be interviewed by general manager George Paton, who began his search on January 10th. Last week, the Broncos met with Detroit defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and Green Bay assistants Nathaniel Hackett (offensive coordinator) and Luke Getsy (quarterbacks) coach). Earlier Tuesday, the Broncos Cowboys offensive coordinator interviewed Kellen Moore.
Among the 10 coaches the Broncos have asked to be interviewed, Quinn, 51, is the only one with previous head coach experience, having played 43-42 over four years plus with Atlanta (3-2 in the playoffs).
Quinn is also scheduled to be interviewed by Chicago, Miami and Minnesota this week.
Quinn is familiar with Paton on two fronts: They worked for the Dolphins in 2005-06 under coach Nick Saban (Paton was director of player staff and Quinn the defensive line coach) and Quinn interviewed the Vikings after the 2013 season, a search Paton was involved as assistant general manager.
Fired after a 0-5 start with the Falcons in 2020, Quinn sat out the rest of the season and was hired by coach Mike McCarthy to turn the Cowboys’ defense.
Dallas won the NFC East and improved from 28th to seven in allowed points and 23rd to 19th place in allowed yards and led the league with 34 takeaways. First-round rookie do-it-all Micah Parsons was a first-team All-Pro selection.
The Cowboys season ended with a 23-17 loss Sunday to San Francisco.
“Dan Quinn is one of the best coaches I’ve been around,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters last week. “One of the best people I’ve ever been with. I have as much respect for him as anyone I’ve ever worked with.”
A league leader called Quinn a “great guy and a great culture builder.”
Quinn experienced his greatest success in Atlanta with Shanahan as the offensive coordinator. In 2016, the Falcons finished first in points and second in yards, and quarterback Matt Ryan was the league’s most valuable player. Atlanta led New England 28-3 in the Super Bowl, but lost 34-28 in overtime.
Shanahan traveled to the 49ers, and the Falcons’ attack could not regain its elite form in 2016, when Quinn hired Steve Sarkisian and then Dirk Koetter to call the plays.
The Falcons won 7-9, 7-9 and 4-12 in Quinn’s last three full seasons.
As a coach for 28 years, Quinn started his career at three FCS programs (William & Mary, Virginia Military Institute and Hofstra) before joining Coach Steve Mariucci’s San Francisco staff as a Defensive Quality Control Assistant in 2001.
Quinn was promoted to defensive line coach in 2003 by coach Dennis Erickson, and he moved on to Miami, the New York Jets and Seattle for two years each.
After the 2010 season, Quinn returned to college fighting to gain defensive coordinator experience in Florida (2011-12). He returned to Seattle in 2013 as defensive coordinator when Gus Bradley was hired as Jacksonville’s coach.
In both of Quinn’s two years with the “Legion of Boom,” the Seahawks led the league with the fewest points and yards allowed, beating the Broncos in the Super Bowl and losing to New England in the following year’s title game.
When Quinn was hired by the Falcons, he had the last word on the 53-man roster. Paton has it with the Broncos.
“It does not surprise me how much he has helped (Dallas) this year,” Shanahan said last week. “They have a really good one and I have a feeling he will not be in that position for very long.”