Sources – Commanders hire Cowboys DC Dan Quinn as new coach

ASHBURN, Va. — The Washington Commanders are hiring Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to be their next coach, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Quinn replaces Ron Rivera, who was fired by new owner Josh Harris one day after the season ended. The Commanders hired Adam Peters as general manager Jan. 12. The moves represent the first significant hires on the football side for Harris, who finalized the purchase of the team in July.

Washington also had interviewed Mike Macdonald, who accepted the head-coaching job with the Seattle Seahawks, as well as Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, Baltimore Ravens associate head coach/defensive line Anthony Weaver and Houston Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik. They spoke to Washington offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy early in the process as well.

The Commanders had hoped to interview Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, but he informed them as they were flying to Detroit that he didn’t want to leave the Lions. He had been considered a top target by Washington, but sources throughout the process had also pegged Quinn as a strong candidate.

Washington’s general manager Adam Peters said during his introductory news conference last month that they wanted a coach to have “leadership, great communication, being able to be honest, direct and upfront.”

Quinn’s contract length remains uncertain. Deals are typically for five seasons, though some coaches have received six years.

Quinn, 53, served as Dallas’ defensive coordinator the past three seasons. The Cowboys ranked a combined fifth in points and seventh in yards. Under Quinn, the Cowboys led the NFL with 93 forced turnovers.

“That’s like my OG, he means a lot to me — because it’s not just about football,” Dallas linebacker Micah Parsons told reporters last month. “He does a great job of finding ways for you to love the game. He doesn’t just treat me like a player, he treats me almost like a friend. He’s always there for me when I need him and we’re not afraid to have those hard conversations, whether it’s father to son or player to coach. Dan’s my guy.”

Rivera is a possibility to replace Quinn in Dallas, as sources told ESPN that the Cowboys will meet with the former Commanders coach. Longtime Mike McCarthy assistant Joe Whitt Jr., who has been the Cowboys’ passing game coordinator, would be the top in-house candidate. Whitt likely will be up for the job in Washington as well, one source said.

Other possibilities include Cowboys secondary coach Al Harris and their defensive line coach Aden Durde, who spent six years coaching under Quinn in Atlanta and Dallas.

Quinn had previously served as the Atlanta Falcons‘ head coach from 2015 to 2020, taking the Falcons to the Super Bowl after the 2016 season, when they lost to the New England Patriots in overtime after leading 28-3.

Atlanta won a combined 10 games in two seasons before his arrival. The Falcons went 29-19 in Quinn’s first three seasons as coach.

“He is by far one of my favorite head coaches,” said former Atlanta guard Chris Chester, who played two seasons with Quinn and also spent four years with Washington. He played 11 years in the NFL. “His energy was consistent. … That was a change in my career. Up until that point it was more traditional coaching and when it was bad the building felt heavy. [Under Quinn] we really took bad games and flushed them and moved on. It’s not like the building was in a gray cloud or a fog.”

But Atlanta was 14-23 in his final two-plus seasons. He finished 43-42 overall and 3-2 in the postseason.

Former Washington tight end Logan Paulsen, now an analyst with the team, said “the place I enjoyed the most working was probably in Atlanta with Dan Quinn.” He played for five teams over 10 seasons, including one with the Falcons. Paulsen said this because he said Quinn was “great” at motivating and with his communication and being in-synch with his vision.

Before his time in Atlanta, Quinn was the defensive coordinator for two seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. There, his defenses ranked first in points and yards allowed each season.

Dallas ranked fifth in yards and scoring this season. The Cowboys have been in the top 10 in scoring defense in each of Quinn’s three years.

Quinn will have a lot of work to do in Washington. The Commanders finished 4-13 last season, haven’t had a winning record since 2016 and haven’t won a playoff game since the 2005 season.

But the Commanders own the No. 2 pick in the 2024 draft, where they can draft their quarterback of the future, and will make five picks in the top 100. They also have approximately $70 million in available cap space, with the ability to create at least $15 million more by releasing various players.

ESPN’s Todd Archer contributed to this report.

First appeared on

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top