FRISCO - I heard this from a dozen NFL people I talked to through the day on Tuesday as the Dallas Cowboys prepped to play host to the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday's playoff game - and as defensive coordinator Dan Quinn prepped to win that game and pave the way for his future to a return as an NFL head coach.
"Dan Quinn is the hottest name in coaching.''
This is now a fact. The Denver Broncos are zeroing in on him, to the point where I believe their GM is interviewing "head coach candidates'' who are actually candidates to become Quinn's coordinators. (More here.)
Quinn has also received interview requests from, well, pretty much everybody with a vacancy, including the Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars.
These are facts. But there is a fantasy in play as well: "Jerry can just buy Quinn to keep him!'' Or, "Quinn says he loves coaching in Dallas, so he's staying!''
Quinn keeps saying pro-Dallas things "(I love it here!'') and inspiringly passionate things that are apparently convincing Cowboys Nation that after nine months in Frisco, he's "Cowboys for Life.''
“There’s just simply nothing to report on from my end,” Quinn said this week when asked about the interview process. “It’s nice to hear if someone is interested. But there’s really nothing to add on my end.”
"There's nothing to add'' on Quinn's end because that's his agent's job. And his agent is doing a helluva job.
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These "Cowboy For Life'' notions are charming thoughts, and even colleague Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated is suggesting the Cowboys could get “aggressive” in their efforts to retain Quinn as their defensive coordinator. Per Breer’s report:
"How badly do the Cowboys want to hang on to Dan Quinn? From what I can gather, the Joneses love their first-year defensive coordinator. And with teams sure to want to talk to him about their head coach openings the next few weeks, it’ll be interesting to see if Dallas gets aggressive in trying to find a way to keep Quinn around.''
Breer is correct regarding the Jones' affection for Quinn; we've established that from the start. There is also no argument about his "hot'' status elsewhere.
The argument? What does "aggressive'' mean?
The Joneses do have a habit of making valued employees feel like "family.'' Former coach Jason Garrett lived this. Executive Will McClay lives it now.
But "aggressive'' can only mean "power,'' "title'' and "salary.'' The Cowboys cannot offer Quinn a title grander or more powerful than "Denver Broncos head coach.'' And while Jerry Jones can money-whip an assistant, the money (and power and title) involved in being a head coach, in running one's own program, is alluring.
"America's Team'' is a special thing. But the facts say the Cowboys are preparing to lose Quinn (see replacements here) and logic says that to Dan Quinn, being in charge of a program rather than being a highly-paid coordinator is more special. And I don't know how Cowboys "aggressiveness'' changes that.