Anytime new ownership takes over an NFL organization, it’s an exciting, yet strange time as they figure out things along the way. It’s an even bigger deal when that new group in charge is tasked with fixing the franchise from top to bottom as is the case in Washington Commanders. It was announced on Thursday morning that the Commanders had found their man to lead the team into the future in former Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator, Dan Quinn.
Congratulations to Quinn on landing another head coaching gig, but after the way things ended in Atlanta, everyone is wondering if Washington made the right move. Many times, when teams are looking to overhaul and change their ways they go in the opposite direction of the previous coach. In the case of the Commanders, they pulled a very Commanders-like move in opting for a more old-school coach in Quinn, who might not be that much different from Ron Rivera in his approach.
Not in the sense that they run the same scheme as defensive coaches, just more of their mindset being that of a different generation than other coaches. This will be Quinn’s second opportunity to lead an organization after spending five and a half years with the Falcons. His time in Atlanta started strong, winning an NFC Championship Game in year two behind league MVP Matt Ryan. Then they had a 28-point lead at halftime in the Super Bowl against Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the Patriots, then we know what happened from there.
While Quinn is a good coach, this isn’t the most inspired hire for Washington. After that crushing Super Bowl loss, Quinn’s Falcons slowly started to decline. The next year they made the playoffs, but were eliminated in the divisional round. Those next two years were both seven-win campaigns en route to Quinn being fired in 2020 after an 0-5 start. Despite the Super Bowl collapse, once Kyle Shanahan was no longer calling plays for that Falcons offense, the wheels fell off.
Now Quinn has the chance to redeem himself as head coach, but it just doesn’t feel like this was the best option for Washington. Or maybe he was, in their minds. Former Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel was available, current Detroit Lions DC Aaron Glenn and even Bill Belichick, who seemed to only have eyes for Quinn’s former team the Falcons.
But it looks like Belichick is sitting this one out, the Commanders obviously passed on Glenn, and for whatever reason, Vrabel wasn’t their man. Ben Johnson was out there, but decided to stay in Detroit, which was probably a good decision. Everybody’s been on board with Washington being the best vacancy besides the Chargers this cycle, but nothing is guaranteed, especially with such a dysfunctional franchise.
No one’s saying Quinn isn’t a good coach, but this hire almost feels like somebody put a beer bottle on the conference room table, spun it, and went with whomever it landed on out of the remaining candidates. Eric Bieniemy was right there, although it was clear from the start he likely wasn’t the choice.
To Quinn’s credit, he’s had successful runs in Dallas and Seattle leading the defense, but that’s what most coaches are best at. Most of these coaches who get head coaching gigs soon realize it’s much different when you’re in charge of everything. Quinn’s already experienced that, but this feels like more of the same in Washington.
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