The Inside Story of How the Commanders Took a Slow Approach To Hiring Dan Quinn

The Washington Commanders put together a creative search committee to hire a new head coach this offseason, ultimately landing on Dan Quinn.

The Washington Commanders were the last team with a head coach opening to make a final decision. It was reported during the season that the team was going to move on from head coach Ron Rivera, who was 26-40-1 in four seasons with the Commanders.

This would be Washington’s first head coach search under new team owner Josh Harris. The team started a methodical approach to replace Rivera, who was let go the day after the regular season ended. Harris said it would be a “thorough but rapid” process to hire a new head coach.

Washington named Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn as head coach on Feb. 7.

Commanders’ Search Committee

Washington quickly put together a unique search committee to find Rivera’s replacement, led by general manager Adam Peters and Harris. The team announced former Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, who had over three decades of experience in the NFL, as an advisor.

The team release included a surprise name, former Golden State Warriors executive Bob Myers. The Warriors won four NBA championships and made the playoffs nine times under his leadership.

Harris explained the decision: “Bob Myers is a winner. Who wouldn’t want him on your team, trying to help your franchise? He knows how to identify talent. He knows how to build winning franchises, winning cultures.”

Martin Mayhew, who had been the Commanders’ general manager since 2021, was the third member of the search committee. He was removed as the team’s GM, but ESPN’s John Keim reported Mayhew would stay with the team’s front office.

Commanders’ Interview Process

ESPN’s Keim took a detailed look at Washington’s process, which took four weeks and involved 14 interviews. Peters started as general manager a day after the interviews began to allow Washington to talk with coaches on playoff teams.

The team interviewed Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, Houston Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik, and Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris.

Washington appeared to be ready to hire Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson until he withdrew his name from consideration.

The search committee was on their way to Detroit for an in-person interview with Johnson when they found out he was no longer interested in the opening. They did conduct an interview with Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn.

The committee wanted to take more time to discuss the candidates, but they quickly lost three. The team found Macdonald was flying to have a second interview with the Seattle Seahawks.

After speaking with him, they realized he was going to take the Seattle job. Slowik signed an extension to remain in Houston.

Multiple sources told Keim that the team liked Morris and was informed the Atlanta Falcons offered him their head coach job.

Washington wasn’t ready to make an offer because they wanted to have the five in-person interviews scheduled. Morris was hired as Falcons head coach before the Commanders finished the interviews.

Washington was left with three candidates: Quinn, Glenn, and Ravens assistant Anthony Weaver.

Washington Selects Dan Quinn as HC

Multiple sources involved in the hiring process informed Keim that Quinn was never a Plan B option. Quinn led the Atlanta Falcons to a Super Bowl appearance in 2016 as head coach. Atlanta lost a 28-3 second-half lead and ultimately the game to the New England Patriots. Quinn was fired during the 2020 season, his sixth as head coach.

Quinn was making a strong impression on the Commanders’ leadership. Peters said, “Every time we spoke with Dan, it became more and more clear that he was the guy. Both times, it was like we were speaking the same language. It was really, really cool, had a great connection, had a great shared vision, so it was almost right away that I knew Dan would be a great coach for us.”

The team started to receive a number of recommendations for Quinn. Falcons owner Arthur Blank endorsed Quinn for the Washington job. A person told Keim, “To have Atlanta endorse Dan was powerful.”

Former Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who played for Quinn when he was a defensive coordinator in Seattle, reached out to Peters to give his support. Peters spoke to San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, who was Quinn’s offensive coordinator in Atlanta. Keim reported that Peters told people he couldn’t recall Shanahan touting someone so highly.

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has developed a friendship with Quinn, with their agents working for the same company. Keim wrote that Kerr texted Myers: “He’s your guy; you’ve got to hire him.”

Sources also told Keim that Quinn talked about his blind spots and the steps taken to improve them. FOX reporter Laura Okmin suggested to Quinn after he was fired that he get a feedback report on what he could do better as a coach. Okmin worked with Quinn on various projects during his time in Atlanta.

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Keim reported that the feedback report revealed Quinn was spreading himself too thin with the Falcons and needed to delegate more. He did improve on that when he was the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator.

A person told Keim that Quinn was evolved in Dallas. The source said, “He had taken those lessons to heart and really worked on anything that he thought he might not have done as well. That was an outstanding thing that he did that did separate him.”

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