Watch: The Defensive Genius Behind the Super Bowl Seahawks Wasn’t Dan Quinn

Tom Pollin

The claim to fame for Dan Quinn when he was hired as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons was that he was the defensive coordinator for two seasons for the Seattle Seahawks when they went to Super Bowls XLVIII and XLIX. The Falcons already had Matt Ryan and Julio Jones in place on offense. It was on defense where the team was lacking.

Both of those Super Bowl teams, in 2013 and 2014, were first in the NFL on defense in points allowed. Both of those squads were tough, nasty, hard-hitting teams. In each season the Seahawks had first team All-Pros in safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman and a Pro Bowler in safety Kam Chancellor. That’s the type of team that Quinn spent the preseason saying he wanted the 2019 Atlanta Falcons to be.

Funny thing is, the 2012 Seattle Seahawks also had a defense that led the NFL in points allowed. That team, that lost 30-28 in the Divisional Round to the Falcons, was also tough, nasty and hard-hitting. They also had All-Pros in Thomas and Sherman. That Seahawks squad had Gus Bradley as their defensive coordinator.

Bradley began shaping that Seattle defense after Pete Carroll was brought in as head coach and John Schneider was named general manager. They’re the ones who began drafting the players that Bradley slowly molded into the best defensive unit in the NFL. The personality for that defense took hold while he was leading those players.

Bradley left Seattle to take his shot at being a head coach, with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Dan Quinn, who had been the Seahawks defensive line coach in 2009 and 2010, was brought back to take over as coordinator after spending two seasons as the defensive coordinator for the University of Florida.

Seattle’s defense stayed first in the NFL in points allowed the year after Quinn left to take the head coach position in Atlanta. Kris Richard took over and kept that defense near the top of the league until age and injuries caught up to them.

So, while Quinn was the defensive coordinator for two of the greatest Seahawks teams in franchise history, the players and attitude were in place when he took over. Maybe that has a lot to do with why he’s always struggled, but never came close to, achieving that success in Atlanta.