Dan Quinn has gone from top candidate to consolation prize

The Rise and Fall of Dan Quinn: From Hot Head-Coaching Candidate to Afterthought

Just a year ago, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was the talk of the town and the hottest potential head-coaching candidate in the NFL. Teams were lining up to interview him and he seemed to have his pick of the litter. However, fast forward one year and Quinn is now almost an afterthought in the minds of teams needing new coaches.

With big names like Jim Harbaugh and Bill Belichick on the market, Quinn no longer holds the same allure that he did last year. He could now become more of a consolation prize if he decides to leave the Cowboys. Quinn is scheduled to interview with multiple teams this week, but it doesn’t feel like he is a top choice for any of them.

Last offseason, Quinn had his pick of opportunities and chose to stay under Jerry Jones’ fancy umbrella in Dallas. However, the best fit for him would arguably be to head back to the Pacific Northwest and lead the Seattle Seahawks. That would be the ultimate retread, especially after the Seahawks moved Pete Carroll into an advisor’s role in favor of a “fresh” start.

If Harbaugh genuinely wants to return to the NFL this year, Quinn could end up with one of the lower-tier coaching gigs. Teams like the Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans, and Las Vegas Raiders are not at the top of most candidates’ lists. In fact, the Raiders should probably stick with their current in-house candidate, Antonio Pierce.

The top three destinations in most people’s minds are the Los Angeles Chargers, Atlanta Falcons, and Washington Commanders. Harbaugh could be the top candidate for any of these teams, with Belichick right behind him. Another name to watch out for is Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, who many teams are waiting for, but his availability might take a couple more weeks.

Johnson brings a fresh new face to the coaching carousel and is not a retread like some of the other candidates. If Harbaugh decides to stay in Ann Arbor, there’s a great chance that Johnson could end up in Los Angeles coaching the Chargers and developing young quarterback Justin Herbert. On the other hand, the rumor mill heavily links Belichick to Atlanta, but whichever coach lands there needs to resolve the quarterback situation quickly.

When considering the potential destinations for Quinn, it’s important to note that only one organization seeking a new coach has a proven franchise quarterback on their roster, and that’s the Chargers. The other teams either have a young quarterback who is still unproven or are in search of a new signal-caller. The Panthers and Titans have quarterbacks with just one season under their belts, showing flashes but still needing development. As for the Seahawks, they have Geno Smith, but he’s not seen as the long-term solution.

If Quinn is ready to take over his own team again or is pushed out of Dallas, his best bet would be Seattle. The familiarity and knowing exactly what he’s getting himself into could be comforting for him. Unless he can secure the Chargers job, Quinn should hope that Jerry Jones sticks with Mike McCarthy so he can stay in Dallas for at least another season and continue to run the defense.

There’s also an outside chance that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ job could come open if Mike Tomlin decides to step away, but the jury is still out on that. If Tomlin leaves and decides he doesn’t want a break, that would be another big name on the coaching list. However, it’s too early to speculate on that scenario.

Ultimately, Quinn’s best bet is to stay in Dallas if Jones remains patient and waits another year. It’s highly unlikely that Quinn will land any of the top jobs this time around, apart from a potential return to Seattle. Harbaugh, Belichick, and Johnson seem to be the most talked-about candidates, with Titans head coach Mike Vrabel also in the mix. For Quinn, it seems like taking the safe route might be the most feasible option.

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