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What would Cowboys DC Dan Quinn bring as the Broncos head coach?

I spoke with Blogging the Boys Connor Livesay and the Falcoholics David Walker to find out if Dan Quinn’s the right head coach for the Denver Broncos.

Carolina Panthers v Atlanta Falcons
Is Quinn ready for his second head coaching job?
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With the Denver Broncos set to interview the Dallas Cowboy’s defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to replace Vic Fangio, I thought it time to find out about the prospective head coach from those who know him best. To get a better read on what Quinn meant to the Cowboys, I reached out to Blogging the Boys’ Connor Livesay.

How do Cowboy fans feel about the prospect of losing Dan Quinn?

Livesay: It’s definitely painful. Coming off a historically bad year of Mike Nolan, Quinn has been such a breathe of fresh air. We hear all the time of coaches taking time off and learning new things, and Quinn 100% did that. Quinn went from a Cover 1-3 heavy coach to a guy running a ton of cover 1-man this year and it’s worked out really well. His players se to love him, Cowboys fans love him, and he’s done a tremendous job in his first season.

How much of the turnaround do you attribute to Quinn vs. players like Micah Parsons? Do you think Quinn could improve the Broncos defense?

Livesay: Micah has been tremendous, possible the most impactful defensive player in the entire league, but Dan Quinn deserves just as much credit. Quinn played a nice chunk of the season missing both Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence and the defense really didn’t miss a beat. Quinn has done a tremendous job of putting his players in positions to succeed, not forcing playing to fit into his scheme. I think he’d do a great job with the players they have on defense, especially in the secondary, but I always wonder if he’s a better defensive coordinator than head coach. As a DC you can spend all of your time on the defense and getting the best out of them, as a HC you have so many other responsibilities. I think he’d do a great job with the defense but would need to make the proper hires to maximize the potential.

Unlike the other candidates who are reportedly interviewing with George Paton, Quinn has been a head coach before. With that in mind, I wanted to find out about his performance the last time he held the top job, so I reached out to the Falcoholic’s David Walker to learn more.

1st and 10

How would you describe Dan Quinn’s tenure as a head coach? Does it surprise you that he’s receiving interest in openings only a year after his Falcon’s tenure came to an end?

Walker: DQ had a respectable run in Atlanta. He was tasked with improving the defense and that did happen in 2017, once his 2016 draft class (with guys like Keanu Neal and Deion Jones) had a full year under their belt. As a coach, he was easy-going and was beloved by every person in the organization without exception. To this day, you’ll still find people who will not say one ill word about the man. The players loved him (as evidenced by Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee following him to Dallas) and he did a great job of creating a unified locker room. He set a clear vision for the team and accomplished it quickly, taking Atlanta to the Super Bowl in 2016 and winning in the playoffs again in 2017 (a fact often overlooked).

I’m not surprised he’s getting looks again because he really is someone you find yourself rooting for. I’m not sure if he’s ready to be a head coach again or not, but it’s not surprising at all that he’d be a hot candidate so quickly.

2nd and 12

Quinn is interesting because he’s had so much success as a coordinator with Seattle and Dallas, but the Falcons were never really above average on that side of the ball. Was that simply due to a lack of talent, issues with the coordinator(s), Quinn himself, or something else entirely?

Walker: A lot of reasons. The 2015 roster he inherited was in shambles and in 2016 he was playing a lot of rookies, but from a strong rookie class (Jones, Neal). The 2017 unit was a decent one that finished 17th in total DVOA. The lack of a pass rush (Vic Beasley fell off hard in 2017) definitely hurt the defense, though this same unit held the Rams to just 13 points in the wild card round of the playoffs. The 2018 unit was decimated by injuries, losing 4 key starters in the first 3 weeks and I believe the firing of DC Marquand Manuel (DQ would go on in 2019 to be the DC) was a major misstep. It was a mix of talent, injuries (esp in 2018) and some missteps that kept the defense from truly becoming a top unit.

3rd and 4

What do you think of the job Quinn did replacing Kyle Shanahan and his assistants following Super Bowl 51?

Walker: Replacing Shanahan was always going to be difficult, but there were certainly better options than Steve Sarkisian. They had an internal candidate that they didn’t bother interviewing by the name of Matt LaFleur. I heard he’s done some good things since then. Funny enough, even though Sarkisian struggled in 2017, the offense was fairly good in 2018 and Matt Ryan had a similar statistical season to the one he had in his 2016 MVP season. I think moving on from Sarkisian was ALSO a mistake, as he had shown significant progress and appeared to be growing into the role. Replacing him with Dirk Koetter was like replacing a functioning Toyota Camry with a cardboard box with three broken wheels super-glued on the side. That wasn’t all on DQ to be fair. Former Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff was the likely orchestrator of that criminally stupid move.

4th and 14

Should Bronco fans be concerned about how Atlanta became renowned for giving up any and all leads during his tenure? Beyond Super Bowl 51 there were some pretty awful losses.

Walker: It would certainly be my chief concern. The collapses - in hindsight - were happening from the beginning in the 2015 season where a 5-0 start melted down to an 8-8 finish. The 2016 season masked some of this with Matt Ryan orchestrating several comebacks when the defense lost leads. It was better in 2017 when his defense was at the peak, but 2018-2020 was comically bad. The only thing I can offer is this: he certainly knows the collapses are an issue and I hope he has figured out what he can do better about it.

Extra Point

Do you think Dan Quinn would be a good head coach for the Broncos?

Walker: I actually think DQ can be a good head coach in the right circumstance. He’s a fantastic person who garners the respect of all the people around him and he’ll give you the most unified locker room you’ve ever seen. And that matters. That said, he has to show that he’s learned from his failures with the Falcons, particularly his inability to stop the bleeding once it has started. If he has figured out how to limit that, a good bit of what he did in Atlanta was really impactful and his immediate success was not a fluke, even if later seasons make it seem that way.

Poll

Do you want the Broncos to hire Dan Quinn to be their next Head Coach?

This poll is closed

  • 48%
    Yes
    (1030 votes)
  • 51%
    No
    (1081 votes)
2111 votes total Vote Now