Falcons Coach Credits Micah Parsons as Reasons for Second HC Job

March 07, 2024

Athlete Studio

Not all coaches in the NFL are gifted with a second opportunity at being a head coach after being dismissed from their first stint. Dan Quinn, the newly appointed head coach of the Washington Commanders, is one of the chosen few to be given this golden chance. His journey in the NFL has been quite a rollercoaster. He had a balanced record of 43-42 in his six-season tenure as the Atlanta Falcons head coach, with the pinnacle being a memorable appearance in Super Bowl LI against the New England Patriots in the 2016 season. However, the Falcons' notorious loss after leading 28-3 in a 34-28 overtime defeat remains a painful memory.

Prior to his first head-coaching tenure, Quinn was a Super Bowl-winning defensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks. He claims that his return to the role of a defensive coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys in 2021 was a valuable learning experience. Under his guidance, the Cowboys led the NFL in numerous defensive categories such as takeaways (93), interceptions (59), defensive touchdowns (15), and quarterback pressure rate (41.4%), ranking fifth in scoring defense (19.9 points per game allowed). Quinn's strategic shift from a Cover 3-based zone scheme with Seattle and Atlanta to running man coverage at the third-highest rate in the NFL (34.2%) was instrumental in the Cowboys' defensive prowess.

Quinn found his experience with the Cowboys to be beneficial on multiple levels. He appreciates the wisdom he gained from working under Mike McCarthy, another Super Bowl-winning head coach. He learned from McCarthy's approach to team philosophy, staff management, and locker room leadership. Quinn acknowledged the importance of the training camps McCarthy organized and his meticulous attention to detail.

Quinn's only regret from his time in Dallas was his inability to secure the team's first Super Bowl title since the 1995 season. Despite this, he chose to stay with the Cowboys as defensive coordinator for a third year. He was driven by his ambition to succeed and his bond with his players, who saw him as a father figure.

The crown jewel of Quinn's tenure in Dallas was undeniably the team's 2021 NFL Draft selection of edge rusher Micah Parsons. Under Quinn's mentorship, Parsons has grown into a formidable defensive presence. He joined the ranks of Hall of Famer Reggie White as the only players since 1982 to have 13 or more sacks in each of their first three seasons. Parsons' performance in 2023 was particularly exceptional, leading the NFL in quarterback pressures (103), quarterback pressure rate (21.8%), and pass rush win rate (35.3%). Despite being double-teamed on 35% of his pass rush plays, Parsons remained the league's most disruptive pass-rusher.

Quinn's coaching philosophy emphasizes the importance of finding unique attributes in players and enhancing them. He was successful in doing this with Parsons, who was moved all over the formation to maximize his pass-rush capabilities. Quinn's strategy proved effective and Parsons is now more of a defensive end than an inside linebacker.

Quinn's appointment as the head coach of the Washington Commanders brings hope to the team's fans. The Commanders had a disappointing defensive performance in 2023, ranking last in the NFL in several key defensive metrics. With Quinn's proven track record and his ability to unlock the potential of players like Micah Parsons, the Commanders may be on the cusp of a defensive resurgence.

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