Getting to Know Bears Head Coach Candidates: Dan Quinn

Dan Quinn Commanders
Dan Quinn Commanders

A complete house cleaning is underway at Halas Hall. Three football seasons have passed since Matt Nagy, and Ryan Pace won top honors for their efforts in leading the 2018 Chicago Bears to a 12-4 record and NFC North title, and the time has come for the franchise to find their replacements.

Despite this team’s issues, the head coach and general manager vacancies are highly sought-after. And with Super Bowl-winning Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian lending a helping hand, the Bears are in a position to make some impact hirings. Over the following days, weeks, or however long it takes, we’ll be diving into the top available candidates, including their history, what they offer schematically, how they fit culturally, where they can take this team, and more. Let’s do it. 

Previous Head Coach Candidates: Doug Pederson, Nathaniel Hackett, Brian Daboll, Brian FloresMatt Eberflus

Previous General Manager Candidates: Glenn Cook, Jeff Ireland, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Ran Carthon, Eliot Wolf, Joe Schoen (Hired by NYG on 1/21)

Name, Current Team, and Position

Dan Quinn, Dallas Cowboys Defensive Coordinator (2021-present)

Relevant Experience

•   Atlanta Falcons Head Coach (2015-2020)

•   Seattle Seahawks Defensive Coordinator (2013-14)

•   University of Florida Defensive Coordinator (2011-12)

•   Seattle Seahawks Assistant HC/D-Line Coach (2009-10)

•   New York Jets Defensive Line Coach (2007-08)

•   Miami Dolphins Defensive Line Coach (2005-06)

•   San Francisco 49ers Defensive Quality Control (2001-04)

Dan Quinn has been in the NFL in various positions, from quality control coach to positions coach to the coordinator and all the way to head coach over the last two decades, and he even spent a couple of years at the collegiate level. Quinn led the Seahawks defense to a record-setting 2013 season in which they crushed the defensive records of the 1985 Bears and won a Super Bowl (XLVIII), and that parlayed into a head coaching job with Atlanta, a team that Quinn took to the Super Bowl in just his second season.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a coach on the Bears list with a resumé as accomplished as Dan Quinn’s, but will that be enough to get the 51-year-old coach a second chance at being the top dog on an NFL sideline?

Existing Rumors and Bears Ties

Dan Quinn is one of 10 head coaching candidates that the Bears have already interviewed or reportedly will interview. You can see the complete list of those (and the GM) candidates here. Quinn is also expected to interview with Denver, Minnesota, and New York for their head coaching vacancies.

Potential Fit

Hey, It Might Work…

The first thing that comes to mind when you think of Dan Quinn is the Atlanta Falcons blowing a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots in his lone Super Bowl appearance as a head coach. And don’t get me wrong, that’s a big, ugly pill to swallow. But, his résumé spans far beyond that blemish. There’s a lot of good on there and a lot of good on the defensive side of the ball.

Quinn’s 2021 Cowboys defense was No. 1 in the NFL in defensive DVOA according to Football Outsiders, and their 34 takeaways (26 interceptions and eight fumbles recovered) ranked No. 1 in the NFL as well. The Cowboys took the ball away from opposing offenses at a higher clip than anyone in the NFL, but they ranked 16th in rushing yards allowed and 20th in passing yards allowed this season.

Quinn has two decades of experience as a coach in the NFL. While his first go-round as a head coach didn’t result in a Super Bowl victory, he’s been there, and after taking a year to go back to the drawing board as a coordinator in Dallas, Quinn may have had time to learn from his mistakes in Atlanta.

OK, Maybe He’s Not The One…

Despite Quinn having plenty of success as a defensive coordinator and moderate success as a head coach with Atlanta, Quinn’s lengthy resume is pretty mediocre outside of roughly four years (2013-14 with Seattle and 2016-17 with Atlanta). Has Quinn’s one season in Dallas been enough time for the veteran coach to learn from his mistakes in Atlanta?

In The End …

In the last three coaching hires in Chicago, they’ve gone in a different direction each time. First, it was the CFL legend Marc Trestman, as the Bears tried to buck their ground and pound reputation. Fail. Then Chicago went with the veteran head coach John Fox as the safe play for the young new GM Ryan Pace. Also, a failure. Finally, Matt Nagy, the hot offensive coordinator of the hiring cycle, got a shot in Chicago, and we all know how that went. Will the Bears go for another young up-and-comer or look for a seasoned coach to stabilize their flailing franchise?

Even if they decide to go in the latter direction, I don’t see Dan Quinn as the guy for this job, at least not this time around.

written by

Patrick grew up in Chicago's Bridgeport and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods before moving to the Western Suburbs of Chicago before eventually relocating to the Las Vegas area with his family in 2023. He started with Bleacher Nation in 2021 and has spent time as a Staff Writer and on the Chicago Blackhawks beat. He is currently a writer and editor at Bleacher Nation covering the Chicago Bears and the NFL at large and the author of the Bleacher Nation Newsletter. Patrick is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).

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