Before Dan Quinn says "hello'' as the Dallas Cowboys' new defensive coordinator under the terms of the three-year deal forged on Monday, it might be instructive to review his "goodbye'' after being fired as the Falcons head coach just over a month into Atlanta's 2019 season.
He wrote in part:
"To the people of Atlanta and Falcons fans everywhere ... I can’t thank you enough for making this Jersey boy feel right at home. I know there are great things ahead for this team and I’ll continue to root like hell for them, and for you. I hope I represented your team with the grace and character you deserve.
"In Brotherhood, DQ.”
Grace. Character. Brotherhood.
These are all obvious buzzwords for any coach. They were certainly the right words to say upon Quinn's Atlanta departure - after all, much was accomplished there in his five years, including two NFL Playoffs appearances and a Super Bowl berth - but they will need to be instituted in Dallas.
Not just buzzwords. Action words.
The Falcons started 0-5 last year under Quinn and were 14-23 since 2018. That's a number that can be made to dance in a negative way. So can the fact that his Atlanta team infamously blew a 28-3 third quarter lead and lost to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
And of course, Quinn added to his personal infamy when in the 2019 season, in Week 2, the Falcons jumped to a 20-0 lead over Dallas, then led 29-10 at halftime, then held a 39-24 advantage with less than eight minutes left in the fourth. And then ...
Surrendered 16 Cowboys points in the final five minutes, low-lighted (for Atlanta) by Dallas recovering that "Watermelon'' onside kick with less than two minutes to play to set up Greg Zuerlein’s game-winning field goal.
Quinn's job here will be to avoid such folly. It will also surely be to re-install more 4-3 defense, wiping out the "multiple'' nature of a defensive scheme that under the deposed Mike Nolan (and head coach Mike McCarthy) never took. And of course there will be the continued assemblage of a defensive staff and then Quinn's contributions to scouting and the NFL Draft.
But ... Grace. Character. Brotherhood.
The 2020 Dallas Cowboys talked a great deal of these traits. Maybe they're just harder to see underneath the shroud of 6-10. But this franchise is very much about "glitz'' over "grit.'' It permeates most everything that occurs.
One measure of whether Dan Quinn is judged a "good hire'': Can he help grace, character and brotherhood to permeate what the Cowboys do, too.