Dan Quinn has looked good in maroon for a long time. He wore the color growing up in the Morristown youth system and for Morristown High School.
Now, Quinn will go back to his maroon roots as the head coach of the Washington Commanders.
“Spoiler alert: You’ll hear me say often, ‘Be where your feet are,'” Quinn said at his introductory press conference on Monday afternoon.
“Actually, I try not to say it. I do try to live it, and I’m pretty good at it too, with one exception. Over the past few years, there’s five words that have probably tested my feet and my head: ‘If I get another shot.’ … I’m a little older, maybe a little more chrome, and hopefully a little bit wiser. But I’m also incredibly grateful for all of that that has led to my feet being here.”
Dan Quinn namechecks his Jersey roots
A two-way tackle and occasional center at Morristown, Quinn noted to the Commanders media how he “grew up a Jersey kid, watching the NFC East for a long time.”
“That’s what football was to me, and that’s where my first love of it came,” he said during his news conference.
New Commanders general manager Adam Peters and his wife Jennifer greeted Quinn and his wife Stacey at the airport on Sunday night. His first entrance to the Commanders’ suburban Virginia training facility on Monday morning was met with a standing ovation of coaches, team and facility staff.
Cowboys secondary/defensive passing game coordinator Joe Whitt Jr. followed Quinn from Dallas to be Washington’s defensive coordinator. Former Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury was named the Commanders’ offensive coordinator on Monday.
Most recently the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator, Quinn reportedly also interviewed with Seattle and Tennessee. He joked about checking to make sure his phone was working during the process, anxiously waiting for a positive call.
“I so wanted this moment,” said Quinn, 53, wearing a maroon tie and a Washington W lapel pin which could almost have been a Morristown “M” turned upside down.
Known as a players’ coach, Quinn has decades of NFL experience with San Francisco, Miami, the Jets, Seattle and Atlanta since 2001.
With Quinn as defensive coordinator, the Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” defense finished first in both yards and points allowed in 2013 and 2014, winning Super Bowl XLVIII at the Meadowlands after the first campaign. Quinn got his first NFL head coaching job with the Falcons in 2015.
He led Atlanta to Super Bowl LI in February 2017, though his Falcons couldn’t hold on to a 28-3 third-quarter lead and eventually lost to the New England Patriots, 34-28, in overtime. The Falcons had a 43-42 record during Quinn’s tenure, making the postseason just once since the Super Bowl appearance.
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Quinn turned around the Dallas defense, which ranked fifth in points allowed and total yards allowed and tied for 12th in turnovers in 2023.
“Q’s like a big uncle to me,” Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons said in a NFL Network interview. “They’re getting a real outstanding guy, man. I hope those players buy in and play extremely hard for him, understand ain’t no one going to love ’em and care more about ’em more than Dan Quinn. Please appreciate his presence, appreciate his greatness and take care of my guy.”
Deep roots in Morristown
The youngest of Sue and Jim Quinn’s six kids, Dan Quinn grew up playing Twin Town Tigers midget football – a level higher than his age group because he was so much bigger than the other boys. He played for David Flynn Sr., grandfather of current Morristown High School football coach Casey Flynn and was also part of Morristown National Little League, ice hockey, and later, track and field.
“All through that time, coming up through youth football and high school football, there were so many coaches that impacted me. Names that you wouldn’t be familiar with today but that left a long impression on my life,” Quinn said at a Super Bowl media event while he was Falcons head coach.
He credited former coaches Sam Champi, Roger Davis, Tony Cattano and Buzzy Flynn, among others from his Morristown days.
“It was probably at that point, growing up there, that my first love of football began,” Quinn continued. “It’s absolutely been a huge impact on my life, growing up there and all the people that when you’re coming up that have an influence on you, encourage you, support you, challenge you, for sure, it’s made a big difference.”
Still a Colonial
An elementary education major at Salisbury (Md.) University, Quinn wanted to become a teacher and a coach back home but he couldn’t get a teaching job at Morristown. Instead, Quinn took a job working with the defensive line at William & Mary – an inauspicious beginning to a career which led him to three Super Bowls in four seasons.
Quinn remains connected to Morristown High’s Colonials, occasionally watching livestreams of games last fall.
“He saw the grit our team had. He was proud of how our team fought throughout the season,” said Casey Flynn, who coached some of Quinn’s nephews in youth baseball. “I think there’s some additional motivation. In any time of downtime for the NFL, we try and coordinate an opportunity to meet our players. He’s just a down-to-earth guy. He loves the game, and he loves where he came from.”
Jane Havsy is a storyteller for the Daily Record and DailyRecord.com, part of the USA TODAY Network. For full access to live scores, breaking news and analysis, subscribe today.
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