FLOWERY BRANCH – Who is Dan Quinn?
The Morristown, N.J. native is perhaps the next head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.
Quinn, 44, dazzled the franchise in his initial interview and will be allowed to have a second interview with the Falcons after Seattle’s appearance in the NFC championship game on Sunday. Since the Falcons interviewed him during the playoff bye week, they can have another interview and don’t have to wait until after the Super Bowl, per league rules.
After playing on the defensive line for the Seagulls at Salisbury State (now Salisbury University) in Maryland from 1990 to 1993, Quinn started his coaching career at William and Mary in 1994. He coached at Virginia Military Institute (1995) and Hofstra (1996-2000) before landing a quality control position with the San Francisco 49ers on Steve Mariucci’s staff.
When Dennis Erickson took over in San Francisco, Quinn was promoted to defensive line coach.
In 2005, he joined Nick Saban’s staff with the Miami Dolphins. After Saban bolted from the NFL for the Alabama job, Quinn went on to coach with Eric Mangini and the New York Jets (2007-08) and with Jim Mora and Pete Carroll with Seattle (2009-10).
After the 2010 season, he returned to the college ranks to be Will Muschamp’s defensive coordinator at Florida.
He returned to Seattle for the 2013 season and inherited the “Legend of Boom” defense from Gus Bradley, who took the head coach job with Jacksonville.
After the Seahawks clobbered the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII with a devastating defensive performance, Quinn started to attract league-wide attention despite being just a one-year coordinator.
He had interviews with Cleveland and Minnesota, but lost out to more seasoned coordinators in Mike Pettine and Mike Zimmer, respectively.
Quinn is probably not going to help much with selling PSLs, but he has strong coaching credentials.
Last week, when Quinn talked to the Seattle media, he didn’t have much to say about the interview process.
“That was kind of the past during the bye,” Quinn told the Seattle Times. “It was nice getting back into the weekend and finally finding out who we get to play so then the focus has all been back to Carolina.
“It was a great experience, and I was glad I was able to go through it.”
Quinn, who speaks after practice on Thursday, said earlier in the season that he’d like to be a head coach.
He’s respected in the Seattle locker room for his football acumen and for bonding with his players.
Seattle led the NFL in fewest points and yards allowed per game, for the second straight year under Quinn.
The Seahawks seem to be bracing for Quinn’s departure.
“It’d be a blow as far as us losing him or whatever, but to be honest with you I think we’ll be all right,” linebacker Bruce Irvin to the Seattle Times. “Nothing against him — he’s a great coach, and I would love for him to stay here. But if whatever situation were to happen, players play and coaches coach.”
He can’t be hired until after the Super Bowl should the Seahawks advance. There is a concern that he would not be able to land a talented coaching staff after the Super Bowl.
Most of the top unemployed assistant coaches will go off the market next week when they are lining up deals while at the Senior Bowl in Mobile.
The last time a team waited for a Super Bowl coordinator was back in 2009 when the Chiefs hired Todd Haley. He was fired in the middle of his third season.
A team waited for a Super Bowl coordinator in 2005. Cleveland waited for Romeo Crennel. He went on to go 6-10 in his first season and 24-40 before being fired after four seasons.
Also, the Falcons must determine how much credit to give Quinn for Seattle’s defense because head coach Pete Carroll is a defensive whiz. Quinn could be viewed as just executing Carroll’s plans.
Two of the Falcons candidates, Rex Ryan and Todd Bowles, have taken jobs with the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets, respectively.
Rex Ryan jumped at the Buffalo job offer when the Falcons weren’t moving fast enough for his liking. Bowles was offered the Jets job on Monday night and reportedly told the Falcons before traveling to New York. The Falcons elected not to intercede.
Former NFL general managers Charlie Casserly and Ron Wolf assisted Jets owner Woody Johnson during their search.
The Falcons are using a corporate search firm in Korn Ferry. Mike Smith, the winningest coach in franchise history, was fired on Dec. 29 and the team is known to have interviewed eight candidates.
Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin had his second interview with the Falcons on Wednesday.
In addition to Quinn, Austin, Bowles and Ryan, the Falcons have also interviewed special team coordinator Keith Armstrong, New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Denver offensive coordinator Andrew Gase and former Buffalo coach Doug Marrone.