The NFL head coaching carousel is officially over as the Washington Commanders hire Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn. After taking over the 23rd-ranked defense in the 2020 season, the Cowboys' defense finished 18th, 12th, and 5th during Quinn's three years as a defensive play caller.
Falcons fans might remember him better as the coach who led Atlanta to only their second-ever Super Bowl appearance as a franchise during his second season with the team in 2016. Unfortunately for Quinn, the Falcons infamously blew a 28-3 third-quarter lead to lose to the Patriots 28-34 in OT.
During an offseason in which many fans assumed Quinn would return to fill Seattle's head coaching vacancy (Quinn was the DC for the heralded "Legion of Boom" defense before his time in Atlanta), the Seahawks opted instead to hire Ravens DC Mike MacDonald. With the Seahawks' job filled, in addition to six of the other seven teams hiring a new HC this cycle, the Cowboys DC landed in Washington DC.
The first head coach under new Washington Commanders owner Josh Harris, Quinn has a tough road ahead to rebuild the struggling Commanders. Fortunately, the Commanders have the 2nd overall pick in the Draft and over $83 Million in cap space ahead of the 2024 NFL offseason. Not too many head coaches have those riches at their disposal.
Quinn is following in another NFC South Head Coach's footsteps
Quinn might be the first head coach under Commanders owner Josh Harris, but he has an interesting tie to the final head coach of the previous owner- Ron Rivera. Rivera coached the Carolina Panthers from 2011-2019, leading them to an appearance in Super Bowl 50. Unfortunately for the 2015 Panthers, despite an MVP season for QB Cam Newton, they couldn't finish- losing 10-24 to the Denver Broncos as Peyton Manning's swan song ended with a Championship ring.
One year after NFL MVP Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers lost Super Bowl 50, the Falcons did the same. In an 11-5 season in which longtime QB Matt Ryan won the NFL MVP honors, the Atlanta Falcons also made the Super Bowl. Like the Panthers, however, the Falcons couldn't see it through. Despite a 28-3 lead with 2:11 remaining in the 3rd quarter, the Falcons fell to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots 28-34 in OT.
Two years, two teams, same result. In 2016, Dan Quinn all but repeated the season fellow NFC South head coach Ron Rivera achieved the year prior. Eight years later, Quinn will once again succeed Ron Rivera. For Quinn's sake, hopefully, he doesn't repeat Rivera the second time around.