The Washington Commanders have an agreement with Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to hire him as coach, according to two people with knowledge of the decision.
The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday because the team had not yet announced the move. Washington was the final NFL team to fill its head-coaching vacancy.
Quinn, 53, spent the past three seasons running the defense for the NFC East-rival Cowboys after five-plus seasons coaching the Atlanta Falcons. Quinn coached the Falcons to a Super Bowl appearance in 2016 before being fired after an 0-5 start in 2020.
He became Washington’s choice after Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, considered a top candidate, told teams Tuesday he was staying with Detroit and the Seahawks hired Baltimore defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald on Wednesday.
Controlling owner Josh Harris, new general manager and head of operations Adam Peters and Quinn give the organization a much-desired new approach after four years of Ron Rivera in charge of everything turned out to be a disappointment. Harris was committed to splitting the personnel and coaching duties this time around.
Much like Peters with the ability to hire a new coach, Quinn now gets the chance to fill out his own staff in his second stint as an NFL head coach. It remains to be seen if Eric Bieniemy returns as offensive coordinator, though that’s not expected, and that position on defense is vacant after Rivera fired Jack Del Rio midway through this past season.
Quinn’s defense ranked fifth in the league in yards and points allowed, helping Dallas win the NFC East before losing in the first round of the playoffs. He inherits the Commanders after they went 4-13, including two blowout losses to the Cowboys.
Washington does have the second pick in the draft, more than $80 million in salary cap space and the opportunity for Peters and Quinn to handpick the next quarterback for a franchise that has not had any consistency at the position in decades.
After Johnson pulled himself out of consideration, Washington brass had to pivot to other candidates. Macdonald going to Seattle made Quinn the front-runner, and he got the job over the likes of Detroit defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and Baltimore assistant Anthony Weaver.
Quinn represents the leader Peters was looking for in the successor to Rivera.
Quinn had also been linked to the Seahawks, for whom he worked under Pete Carroll as defensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014 before getting his first chance to run a team with Atlanta. The Falcons led 28-3 in the Super Bowl on Feb. 5, 2017, before losing to the New England Patriots.
A New Jersey native, Quinn broke into coaching by running the defensive line for William & Mary in 1994 before one year at Virginia Military Institute and five at Hofstra. He worked on staff for San Francisco, the New York Jets and Seattle from 2001-10, returned to college at Florida and went back to the Seahawks, helping them win the Super Bowl in the 2013 season.
Quinn joins an organization that hasn’t won a championship since 1992 and owns only two playoff victories over the past three decades.
Quarterback — as usual in Washington — is the biggest question, and Peters and Quinn now have a major decision to make at the most important position in , after Sam Howell petered out in 17 games as the starter. The No. 2 pick could be an opportunity to take North Carolina’s Drake Maye, or they could decide to explore options by trade or through free agency.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL