When Dan Quinn got up Thursday morning, he was still the defensive coordinator at the University of Florida.
By midday, however, he had agreed to become defensive coordinator for the Seahawks. Quinn, the team’s defensive line coach in 2009-10, is replacing friend and former defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who was named head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday.
“I am so excited to get back there and get going,” Quinn said from his office at Florida, where he was busy making the transition from the job he has held the past two seasons to one he originally interviewed for in 2009 when Bradley was hired.
“I was hoping to get a chance to be back and be part of it. Now that I am, it’s really exciting. I’m beyond excited.”
Quinn inherits a Seahawks defense that ranked No. 4 in the NFL during the just-completed 2012 season – the highest ranking in franchise history and only the seventh time in 37 seasons that the Seahawks finished among the Top 10. And Quinn returning to a defense and scheme he already knows should make for a seamless transition as the Seahawks try to improve the unit during the offseason.
Told that coach Pete Carroll already had listed acquiring a pass-rusher or two as an offseason priority, Quinn said, “Right up my alley.”
And that alley will be Quinn’s first step in returning to the Seahawks and the NFL as he’ll attend the Senior Bowl starting on Sunday to begin the search for those collegiate pass-rushers, among other things.
“I want to go and start watching guys,” Quinn said. “I’ve always loved that part of coaching, in terms of the evaluation and getting guys in the draft. I’ve missed it during my time in college.”
He might have spent the past two seasons in Gainesville, Fla., but Quinn also reserved a few hours each Sunday to keep track of the Seahawks.
“Everybody in that entire organization has just done such a cool job,” he said. “It’s been a pleasure from afar to watch the development and how things have been going.”
Quinn is only 42, but he’s been coaching for 18 years. He started in college – William & Mary (1994), Virginia Military Institute (1995) and Hofstra University (1996-2000), where he got to be a defensive coordinator for the first time. He then moved to the NFL – with the San Francisco 49ers (2001-04), Miami Dolphins (2005-06) and New York Jets (2007-08), before joining the Seahawks as assistant head coach/defensive line coach on Jim Mora’s staff in 2009. Quinn was retained in 2010, when Carroll replaced Mora.
Quinn left the Seahawks after the 2010 season because he wanted to be a defensive coordinator again.
“I had to do this,” he said. “I was totally glad I did it. And to do it at a place like Florida was something I really needed to do.”
Last season, his Gators defense tied for second in the nation in fewest touchdown passes allowed and yielded an average of 2.98 yards per carry against the run to rank sixth.
Now he’s not only ready to return to the Seahawks, Quinn feels he’s more prepared to handle to his new duties.
“I grew as a coach the past two seasons,” Quinn said. “And now, I’m fired up to be back and I can’t wait to be part of the organization again.”
No one is happier to see Quinn return than
“Coach Quinn, he was a big part of my success,” said Bryant, breaking into a large smile as he stood in front of this cubicle in the locker room at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. “So I owe him a lot of gratitude and it’s going to be pleasant surprise to see coach Quinn come back.”
Losing Bradley was inevitable. But replacing him, almost immediately, with Quinn lessened the sting.
“It’s a win-win for everybody involved,” Bryant said. “I’m extremely happy for Gus. He definitely helped in the maturation of my career. So I’m hoping he does a great job with the Jags, and I know he will. Then to get coach Quinn back, it’s just a sense of familiarity for me and the entire defense. We’ll be able to pick up where we left off.
“One of the big reasons we were so effective against the run when he was here is because of the way coach Quinn broke down teams. He made it so simplistic that we were able to call out the plays before the teams were able to run them. His attention to detail is just as good as Gus, if not better, in terms of attacking the run. So it’s going to be good.”
Offered Quinn, “I’m thrilled for Gus. He’s a friend. So I’m fired up for him. And at the same time, I’m excited they reached out to me.”