The Detroit Lions could be moving on from the majority of their coaching staff by the end of the season. Should Dan Quinn be the new defensive coordinator?
It’s no secret that the Detroit Lions‘ defense has been the weak link to this team throughout all of the head coach Matt Patricia’s reign. This despite the fact that he was supposed to be a defensive genius coming over from the New England Patriots.
Instead, the Lions are routinely inside the bottom three to five in just about every defensive category. Last season, they were one of the all-time worst pass defenses ever and this year they are being run over at will by opposing offenses.
Knowing that Patricia and his hand-picked coaching staff are likely going to be shipped out of town before the offseason begins in earnest, fans and ownership should be looking for names to put on their wanted list. While the biggest discussion will be on who the new head coach should be (and possibly general manager as well), keeping in mind the possibilities of new coordinators is also important.
One of those guys who could be high on the list of targets is recently fired Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn. His defenses in Atlanta weren’t particularly great, but his history as a defensive coordinator shows he may just not be able to handle running an entire team. Just the defense, however, is another story.
Quinn was in charge of the Seattle Seahawks defense when it was known as the “Legion of Boom” and was widely feared by offenses around the league. The former Seahawk coordinator was, quite frankly, elite in his two years (2013, 2014) leading the Seattle defense.
The “Legion of Boom” led the league in both yards allowed and points allowed in total defense in 2013. They gave up just 273 yards per game total, a whole 25 yards less than the number two team, and allowed just 14 points per game.
They gave up only 172 yards through the air on average and just over 100 yards on the ground. The defense also led the league in takeaways, grabbing an astounding 28 interceptions, forcing 24 fumbles, and recovering 18 of those.
In 2014, Quinn once again led the league on defense in yards allowed per game and points allowed per game. The Seahawks defense gave up an average of 267 yards and 16 points per game. They didn’t have as many turnovers but still generated 13 interceptions, 19 forced fumbles, and 11 recoveries.
These two consecutive outstanding years were enough to get Quinn hired on as the head coach in Atlanta. Unfortunately, Quinn was never able to reproduce that defensive success in Atlanta, with his best defensive year coming in 2017 when the Falcons finished in the top-10 of both points allowed and yards allowed. Other than that year, the Falcons were regularly in the bottom-20 in both categories.
Why believe that he can turn the Detroit defense around? Because as just a defensive coordinator, Quinn was the elite of the elite. He finished tops in the league both years he controlled the defense, granted he had a lot of talent to work with. But then again, in terms of raw talent, the Lions aren’t lacking.
The Lions defense employs defensive end Trey Flowers, tackle Danny Shelton, rookie edge rusher Julian Okwara, linebackers Jamie Collins, Jahlani Tavai, and Jarrad Davis, and defensive backs Tracy Walker, Duron Harmon, Jeff Okudah, and Desmond Trufant.
While those aren’t all premier talents, the raw ability is there for most of them, they just need to be properly developed; something Patricia and his crew clearly haven’t been able to get done.
Quinn has the resume as a defensive coordinator to believe he can mold the defense into a top-10 unit but will need to be given more than just a year to get it done. His time in Atlanta wasn’t as promising but there is reason to believe he can turn around and manage a defense with nothing else on his plate.
He wouldn’t be a no-doubt, home-run hire for the Lions. But Quin’s history as an elite defensive coordinator would be enough to give hope to the Lions management and ownership. And his hiring could also give the fanbase a little hope, provided they don’t expect top-10 production right away.
If the majority of defensive coordinator options are hired or choose to stay put then Quinn would be a very solid hire for the Lions organization. He wouldn’t be the first choice, but Quinn would nonetheless be a better option than anyone they currently have on staff.