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Dolphins Coaching Search: The Case for Dan Quinn

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is among the seven candidates who have been identified for the Miami Dolphins head-coaching opening

A little more than a week after firing head coach Brian Flores, the Miami Dolphins are very active these days interviewing candidates to become his replacement.

The Dolphins reportedly will be interviewing 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel via Zoom on Wednesday after talking to Bills assistants Brian Daboll and Leslie Frazier in person Sunday.

The team also reportedly is scheduled to interview Dallas' two coordinators, Dan Quinn and Kellen Moore, later this week, and also have requested interviews with Vance Joseph and Thomas Brown.

As the process continues, we'll spotlight the candidates and make the case why each would represent a good hire for the Dolphins — along with a reason or two why he wouldn't.

We'll start with Dan Quinn.


-- At the top of the list, we can start with his experience as an NFL head coach, which consists of five-plus seasons with the Atlanta Falcons from 2015 until he was fired after an 0-5 start in 2020.

Quinn's record in Atlanta was 43-42, even with that 0-5 start that included a 40-39 loss at Dallas in Week 2 when the Falcons squandered a 39-24 lead in the final 5 and a half minutes.

While prior NFL head-coaching experience might or might not be a big deal to some, we'll just point out that the only three coaches in Dolphins history who finished with a winning record — Don Shula, Dave Wannstedt, Jimmy Johnson — had coached another team before coming to Miami.

-- Quinn has had success as a coach and a coordinator.

Before he took over as Falcons head coach, Quinn spent two seasons as Seahawks defensive coordinator and that unit finished first in the NFL both years. Yes, Quinn had a lot of talent with which to work — starting with the best secondary in the NFL — but he still had to make the parts work together.

In those two seasons in Seattle, the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl twice, defeating Denver before losing against New England in large part because of one of the most atrocious play calls in league history.

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In that first Super Bowl, Quinn's defense completely shut down the Peyton Manning's record-setting offense to turn the game into a rout.

Quinn made it three Super Bowl appearances in four years when he took the Falcons to the big game in the 2016 season, though that game always will be remembered for Atlanta blowing a 28-3 lead.

-- Quinn can assemble a big-time coaching staff.

There's no need to really go into more detail here than just listing some of the assistant coaches on his 2016 Atlanta staff.

Here we go: current head coaches Kyle Shanahan and Matt LaFleur, former Bucs head coach Raheem Morris, the aforementioned Mike McDaniel, and Mike LaFleur, who was an offensive assistant then along with McDaniel but is now offensive coordinator with the New York Jets.


-- The first is simple and it has nothing to do with Quinn's qualifications as a candidate: It's been suggested in a lot of different place that Quinn is very likely to end up as the head coach of another team with a vacancy, the Denver Broncos. Quinn interviewed with Denver on Tuesday.

-- Quinn is a defensive coach.

If the reports suggesting the Dolphins want a coach on board with Tua Tagovailoa continuing as the starting quarterback in 2022, it only makes sense for that particular coach to be more offensive-sided.

Besides, anybody who watched the Dolphins can recognize that the team is much further ahead on defense and that it's the offense that needs a lot of work.

In that sense, hiring an offensive-minded coach would seem to make the most sense.


Some quick thoughts from Mike Fisher, longtime NFL writer and publisher of SI Fan Nation sister site Cowboy Maven:

"We just kind of get these impressions and we stick with them and we're just kind of making them up based on what we see on TV. So in Atlanta, they don't think Dan Quinn is a good coach because, after all, he did lose a Super Bowl. If you go to a Super Bowl and you win it, you're a good coach. You go to Super Bowl and lose it., you're not and it's of course preposterous."

"Dan Quinn's got what Troy Aikman told me when they first hired him a really unique combination in his bag of tricks. He is a beloved figure. If you play for him, you love him. He also will chew your ass. He's also hard on you. And so that combination if you can find that guy ... and you know Atlanta did well with him, Seattle before that did well with him and Dallas, obviously. I mean, he turned around a bad defense. And some of it was scheme certainly, but a lot of it was the force of his personality Dan Quinn will be a head coach in this cycle."