Dan Quinn hired as new Defensive Coordinator

Simpleton

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It's going to come down to talent acquisition with Quinn.

I doubt he'll have a huge say in the process because the scouts/front office basically already know what the scheme requires from when Richard was here. The downfall of his Atlanta defenses was that high picks invested in the defense didn't live up to expectations or flat out busted in terms of guys like Vic Beasley, Jalen Collins, Keanu Neal and Takk McKinley.

They didn't spend money in FA on defense for the most part and the high picks they spent were ineffective.

I have no idea how much say he had in Atlanta so I'm not going to fret about him "not being able to evaluate talent" or whatever when that shouldn't even be his primary, secondary or tertiary focus.
 

Iamtdg

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Here’s what Cowboys are getting in new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn


By Jon Machota and Mike Sando Jan 11, 2021

The 2020 goal was for the Cowboys defense to be more multiple and less vanilla. The 2021 goal appears to be returning to a more basic scheme.

The Cowboys agreed to terms with Dan Quinn on Monday, making him the team’s third defensive coordinator in as many years. Quinn spent the previous six years as the Atlanta Falcons’ head coach, leading them to a Super Bowl appearance in 2016. He was fired in October after a Week 5 loss dropped the Falcons to 0-5.

Before being hired by Atlanta, Quinn was the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014. Seattle reached the Super Bowl both seasons, winning in 2013.

The Cowboys fired defensive coordinator Mike Nolan on Friday after only one season on Mike McCarthy’s coaching staff. Dallas’ goal of being less predictable defensively proved to be too difficult of a task during a pandemic. While eventually dialing things back helped the defense improve, the group was still historically bad, allowing a franchise-record 473 points.

Dallas spent the last few days interviewing several candidates for the job, including Joe Whitt Jr., Jason Simmons and George Edwards. Whitt was Atlanta’s defensive backs coach and defensive passing game coordinator this season. He also spent 11 years working on McCarthy’s staff in Green Bay. Simmons worked with McCarthy for four years in Green Bay. He was the Carolina Panthers’ secondary coach and defensive passing game coordinator this season. Edwards was a senior defensive assistant with the Cowboys in 2020 after spending the previous six years as the Minnesota Vikings’ defensive coordinator.

But Quinn was the favorite all along.

Not only does he bring head coaching experience, but he was the defensive coordinator for one of the greatest defenses in NFL history. One big difference between those Legion of Boom teams in Seattle and the current Cowboys defense: There’s significantly less talent in Dallas.

Seattle had Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Bruce Irvin, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril.
The Cowboys are trying to build around DeMarcus Lawrence, Trevon Diggs, Leighton Vander Esch, Donovan Wilson and Randy Gregory.

Dallas is likely to add some upgrades in free agency and the draft, but only so much can be done in one offseason.

The players clearly weren’t thrilled about the defensive scheme changes last season. Switching back to something resembling the 4-3 scheme that was run under previous defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli should be a better fit. For one, Lawrence, their top defensive player, is a better fit rushing in Marinelli’s scheme than the more multiple 3-4 looks Nolan preferred.

Quinn will likely run a defense that gets most of its quarterback pressure from its four down linemen.

But bigger than any scheme change is Quinn’s need to get everyone on the same page. There was too much confusion in 2020, leading to far too many big plays, particularly in the running game. And the Cowboys can’t afford to have the same effort issues that were on display in the second half of several games.

It also needs to be pointed out that Atlanta’s defenses were nothing special. During Quinn’s six seasons, the defense never finished higher than 18th in EPA. They were 32nd in the league this season when Quinn was fired. The Falcons finished eighth in scoring defense and ninth in total defense in 2017. In 2016, when Atlanta went to the Super Bowl, it finished first in scoring offense but 27th in scoring defense.
To get a better feel for Quinn, I reached out to The Athletic senior NFL writer Mike Sando.

Sando was a Seahawks beat writer from 1998 through 2007 before becoming a national NFC West writer from 2008 to 2013. Since then he has been a national NFL writer.

What are the Cowboys getting in Quinn?

“They’re going to get a really high-energy guy with Pete Carroll-type energy. I think he really benefited from his time in Seattle. He’s a specialist with coaching the defensive line; that’s his trade. I think he tempered his energy a little bit in Atlanta to be the head coach of the team. The real question I have with him going to Dallas is how much of him having duty as a head coach in Atlanta took away from his ability to really coordinate a good defense? Let’s face it, in Seattle in 2013 and 2014, there’s going to be multiple Hall of Famers off those teams, defensively. You’re going to win a lot of games playing almost any defense with those guys. The question now is, can he go somewhere where he doesn’t have that much talent and still have a good defense?

“He’s a great guy. I think he’s a really good coach. But the results defensively, it’s hard to tell for sure exactly how great of a defensive coordinator only he is because the years that he did that as his only job, he had great talent.”

What was his time like in Seattle?

“He was really highly thought of. He was liked by the players. The benefit of the scheme that he’s bringing is that it’s simpler. That was one of the issues obviously they had during the pandemic with Mike Nolan — very complicated defense. So you’re going to get back to guys knowing what they’re doing and having certain keys that you can hang your hat on. But you have to have the four-man pass rush. That’s just a fact with this defense. You’re not manufacturing it with some odd blitz. You have to have that or else you’re going to rank 24th on defense, just like Atlanta did.

But if you get guys together for a while and you develop that pass rush, it can be a really good scheme because you really know where the weaknesses are and you can really mitigate the big plays. It’s just hard to do that when you can’t rush the passer. I would flip that around, though, and say, tell me — how many defenses are good when you can’t rush the passer? They all sort of have to, to some extent. But in this one it is heightened because you’re not usually doing a lot of other stuff to make up for it to manufacture it.”

How did he work with Carroll?

“The defense in Seattle was in Pete Carroll’s image. There was complete alignment there. I’m sure Pete was more involved than Mike McCarthy’s going to be just because McCarthy is an offensive guy, and he’s not going to have an opinion on the technique of the corner. Pete Carroll, you would see after practice coaching a young corner on his footwork or whatever. But it wasn’t stepping on Dan Quinn’s toes or taking away authority from Dan Quinn. It was more of them all being on the same page and ‘here’s how we’re doing it.’ Pete Carroll has been doing it longer than anybody, so he’s going to help out. But I think Dan Quinn called the defense and ran the defense, and Pete was more head coach of the whole team, with the philosophy that was being implemented by Dan Quinn to Pete Carroll’s specifications.”

What are your initial thoughts on the Cowboys landing Quinn to replace Nolan?

“You’re getting a head coach of the defense. I think when you have an offensive head coach, that’s nice to have. You can say that Mike Nolan was that, too; he’s been a head coach. But Dan’s been one more recently. He’s younger. He’s probably got a better chance of connecting with the players. It’s a simpler scheme that’s going to be easier for people to get up to speed on more quickly. They are going to sink or swim with their ability to build up the defensive personnel. And that’s probably true whoever the coordinator is.

“I like having a guy that’s a pretty good leader. But he has some question marks because of how it went in Atlanta. And he could not really ever fix the defense. So, certainly, that’s a fair criticism, and that’s concerning. But you know what the scheme is going to be, and you know that he’s had success as a coach in the league. He’s been to a Super Bowl with two different teams. How many coaches can you get that have been to the Super Bowl with two different teams in the last six, seven years?”
 

Smitty

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I mean, here's the thing.

How many times do we have to hear this story about how "we are too predictable," and we need to be more diverse on defense, then we implement something, the defense doesn't know what is going on, and we have to simplify things to get back to even having a competent run defense?

It's been happening since the Campo/Zimmer days at least. I feel like I remember a defense with Michael Myers on it being lauded for it's run defense once it "simplified," it's approach and removed stunting.
 

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Stephen Jones: "The biggest thing is just that free agency, I just don’t think you can make a living there. That’s what we’ve always said. I think you’re overpaying in free agency most of the time. Free Agents are overvalued, because you’re competing in a market where you’ve got teams that don’t have as many players they have to spend on, have to use cap space on.
 
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Simpleton

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Stephen Jones: "The biggest thing is just that free agency, I just don’t think you can make a living there. That’s what we’ve always said. I think you’re overpaying in free agency most of the time. Free Agents are overvalued, because you’re competing in a market where you’ve got teams that don’t have as many players they have to spend on, have to use cap space on.
Stephen is generally right, but like everything there are exceptions, and you need to be proactive enough to identify those exceptions and act on them. Stephen seems all too happy to just throw his hands up and say fuck it until we're 5 days into free agency, no matter the set of circumstances.
 

boozeman

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Stephen seems all too happy to just throw his hands up and say fuck it until we're 5 days into free agency, no matter the set of circumstances.
And then we go sign 5 dipshits for the same amount of money we would have spent on one quality signing. It is all about the guarantees that go along with any FA worth their salt. Then he plays a game that puts out the same amount of potential money but those players are so shitty, they get cut before camp even ends. Hey, he tried.
 

boozeman

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“He’s a great guy. I think he’s a really good coach. But the results defensively, it’s hard to tell for sure exactly how great of a defensive coordinator only he is because the years that he did that as his only job, he had great talent.”
Yes, but is he smart enough not to get Tabasco in his eye?
 

Chocolate Lab

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How many times do we have to hear this story about how "we are too predictable," and we need to be more diverse on defense, then we implement something, the defense doesn't know what is going on, and we have to simplify things to get back to even having a competent run defense?
Jake on the Ticket was talking about this yesterday. Seems like even going back several years through different coordinators, every time we try to run more things, we make mistakes and the players start complaining to the media that this is too complicated. So we dumb it back to the basics. And here we are again.

At what point is it on the players to accept that this is harder to grasp but it's your job to do it? Other teams do it, why can't you?
 

Rev

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Jake on the Ticket was talking about this yesterday. Seems like even going back several years through different coordinators, every time we try to run more things, we make mistakes and the players start complaining to the media that this is too complicated. So we dumb it back to the basics. And here we are again.

At what point is it on the players to accept that this is harder to grasp but it's your job to do it? Other teams do it, why can't you?
As long as they can go up to Jerry everything will remain the same.
 

Genghis Khan

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I think the other thing is that complicated schemes take patience. We've been in win now mode (even when we were terrible) for a long time. You have to be able to wait out the growing pains.
 

Chocolate Lab

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I couldn't be less enthused about Quinn. And I'm not saying that to gripe about the Cowboys. I don't see why he'd be a priority for any team.

As you guys already posted, he made his name entirely off that Seattle defense that was already rolling and had great talent, and has done absolutely nothing since. The only argument I can see is if it's true that Nolan didn't relate well to the players, and Quinn seems to be well liked by his guys. But that it.

I still wonder if Jerry didn't want the 43 over the 34. But David Moore said yesterday that this was totally McCarthy's call.
 

boozeman

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I couldn't be less enthused about Quinn. And I'm not saying that to gripe about the Cowboys. I don't see why he'd be a priority for any team.

As you guys already posted, he made his name entirely off that Seattle defense that was already rolling and had great talent, and has done absolutely nothing since. The only argument I can see is if it's true that Nolan didn't relate well to the players, and Quinn seems to be well liked by his guys. But that it.

I still wonder if Jerry didn't want the 43 over the 34. But David Moore said yesterday that this was totally McCarthy's call.
There probably isn't a defensive coordinator unicorn out there. Dallas is a unique environment.
 

Cowboysrock55

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I think the other thing is that complicated schemes take patience. We've been in win now mode (even when we were terrible) for a long time. You have to be able to wait out the growing pains.
I think the key is to start simple and build up to something more complex by adding wrinkles. This is what makes a great defensive coordinator. I think the problem in Dallas is that we either go all in with complex right away or we get a simple system and never evolve from that.
 

roughneck266

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I think the key is to start simple and build up to something more complex by adding wrinkles. This is what makes a great defensive coordinator. I think the problem in Dallas is that we either go all in with complex right away or we get a simple system and never evolve from that.
I think so too. You can't start off with some kind of MIT defense when you are using players on a high school freshman level.
 
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