Will Dan Quinn’s Departure Set Back the Cowboys’ Defense?

Dan Quinn is heading to Washington after spending the last three seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. What does that mean for the Cowboys?

The Dan Quinn era has officially ended for the Dallas Cowboys, but they will still have to see him twice a year going forward.

The Latest on Dan Quinn

According to multiple reports, Quinn is heading to the Washington Commanders to take over as the team’s head coach.

The move wasn’t surprising and came after Quinn had a second interview with the Commanders earlier this week.

The head coaching position with the team was the only vacancy left from all of the interviews Quinn participated in since the Cowboys’ season came to an end.

This was a smart move for Washington as Quinn is a viable and proven candidate as a head coach who has a history of turning programs around and making them Super Bowl contenders.

He can rebuild the culture and create success as the head coach like he did in Atlanta, where he led the team to a Super Bowl before his departure in 2016.

With QB Sam Howell being young and impressionable, Quinn could be the perfect fit to ensure the quarterback continues to grow in the right ways.

But he could also choose to upgrade at that position with the Commander’s second overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Plus, a cherry on top for Quinn is that his hometown of Morristown, New Jersey, is only a little over four hours from the Commanders’ headquarters.

Quinn’s Coaching History

Quinn was with the Seahawks from 2013 to 2014 as the team’s defensive coordinator and the play-caller for the Legion of Boom’s secondary.

Quinn led the Seahawks’ defense to two consecutive Super Bowl appearances and won Super Bowl XLVIII against the Denver Broncos.

He then took the head coaching job with the Atlanta Falcons in 2016 until 2020.

That path led him to take the defensive coordinator position with the Cowboys in 2021.

In Mike McCarthy’s final press conference of the season, he spoke about Quinn, calling him a “highly valued member” of their coaching staff.

What’s Next for the Dallas Cowboys?

This doesn’t come as a shock, as Quinn’s name has been thrown around in head coaching conversations for the last three years.

But the Cowboys’ luck ran out, and Quinn’s absence will leave a large void for the team to fill this offseason.

It will be interesting to see if the team will look internally or externally to fill the defensive coordinator position.

Joe Whitt Jr.

If they are looking internally, Joe Whitt Jr. is a name to keep in mind. Whitt is the Cowboys’ current secondary coach, so the team is highly familiar with him.

He has worked under Quinn since 2021 and would know the ins and outs of the scheme and expectations working under Mike McCarthy.

MORE: 2024 NFL Coordinator Interview Tracker

Whitt has also filled in for Quinn as the team’s play-caller so that it would be an easy transition for him.

Although there is speculation he could follow Quinn once again, the Cowboys could give him more freedom with the play calls as their defensive coordinator.

In a 2021 interview, he was quoted as saying, “My two dream jobs when I started off, and this has stayed the same, I wanted to be the head coach of South Florida or the defensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys. Back when I was at the University of Louisville. I wrote those down.”

Al Harris

Another internal option would be the Cowboys’ assistant secondary coach Al Harris.

Harris has been outspoken about his loyalty to Quinn. However, because he is under contract, he can’t leave the team unless it’s via promotion.

If Quinn chooses to take him in as the Commanders’ defensive coordinator, he could leave.

But the Cowboys would be foolish not to attempt to promote Harris, especially considering the growth young players have had under his coaching tenure in Dallas.

Trevon Diggs was quick to voice his support for Harris to get a promotion on X, saying, “Al Harris for DC.”

Only time will tell what owner Jerry Jones decides to do, but there are viable options to start setting the team up for success early in the process.

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