Dan Quinn started 0-5 last season as the Atlanta Falcons head coach and was relieved of his duties in October. He didn't sit on the shelf long though as the Dallas Cowboys signed him to be their new defensive coordinator in January after arguably the worst defense in their organization's history last season.
During his brief time off, Quinn did some self-evaluating of his philosophy in terms of what he needed to tweak going forward, which prepared him for his opportunity in Dallas.
“I wanted to do as big an after-action on my own self to make sure what I could learn from, things that went well and things that didn't go well,” Quinn said, via the team's website. “So, I wanted to kind of do a 360 on the whole process first, the scheme side.”
Quinn had a two-year stint as the Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator (2013-2014) and produced back-to-back top-ranked defenses that made consecutive Super Bowl appearances (won a championship in 2013). Also, his 2016 defensive unit made it to the Super Bowl, but unfortunately, it gave up the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history after being up 28-3 on the New England Patriots.
Once Quinn got his chance to resurrect his career with the Cowboys, he decided to do things slightly different from his days in Seattle and Atlanta.
“That included defensive cutups from 2013 to 2020, and that brought me into some of the system changes that I wanted to implement on the next lap around,” Quin said. “I didn't want to do just another rinse and repeat. And, so, that was a big piece on what I wanted to do.”
At Quinn's previous two locations his defensive philosophy was a 4-3, Cover 3 style of defense which mirrors what Rob Marinelli and Kris Richard ran in Dallas for two seasons. During a post-draft press conference, Quinn mentioned that the Cowboy's base defense would resemble more of a 3-4 look although a lot of the elements of his old scheme would still be there, continuing their attempt to be more multiple on defense which failed in 2020 under Mike Nolan.
“Certainly a combination of things that, the foundation that has been here, as well as some new things that I wanted to bring into it and how we play and the style that would do that,” Quinn said.
Once the games count for real is when we'll see if all of these adjustments to Quinn's scheme will translate into winning football on defense for the Cowboys in 2021. He had great success in Seattle but it trended downward in Atlanta. With that being said, Quinn has to update his resume with the Cowboys.
“Much like a player, I guess I have to prove it,” Quinn said. “And what I would say is what you can count on from me is somebody that's real specific in how we're going to go about it and get after it. And I'm very much looking forward to proving that.”
The Cowboys gave the most points in franchise history (473), were second-worst against the run (158.8 yards per game), and ranked 28th in points allowed (29.6) in 2020. The only way to go is up and with eight out of 11 selections in the draft coming on the defensive side of the ball the Cowboys are showing that they are all in on Quinn's philosophy and are hoping that makes them a respectable defense in 2021.