The Chicago Bears today are interviewing Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn for the club’s vacant head coach position. The interview is taking place in Seattle.
Quinn is a very attractive choice, especially considering the Bears’ defensive woes the past two years.
Chicago’s defense in 2013 finished 30th overall, 30th in points allowed and 32nd against the run. It was the first time in franchise history a Bears defense finished last in the league against the run.
In 2014, Chicago’s defense finished 30th overall, 31st in points allowed and 30th against the pass.
The Bears just endured the worst two-year defensive period in the organization’s 95-year history. For the NFL’s charter franchise, one that has always prided itself on defensive dominance, it’s been a painful and embarrassing stretch.
So it’s not surprising Quinn is one of the top candidates to replace Marc Trestman.
“When you look at successful teams, they have an identity,” chairman George McCaskey said this week. “There will usually be, at some point in the season, they’ll be called upon to overcome adversity. There will be a point in the season where the team jells, where they come together. That’s what you want to see. That’s what we’re looking to see, somebody who can help make those things happen for our Bears.”
Quinn could be just the guy to turn McCaskey’s wishes into reality. Under his direction, the Seahawks have led the league in points allowed and yards allowed the past two years in a row.
Seattle’s boasts the fastest, hardest-hitting defense in the league, one that physically dominates its opponents from start to finish. It’s the type of defense other teams aspire to be, one that, under Quinn, has set the bar for NFL excellence.
If Quinn were to bring that mentality with him to Chicago, the Bears could instantly fix a defense in shambles.
Yet Quinn was handed a very talented unit, a defense Seattle’s front office began building well before 2013. Former Seahawks DC Gus Bradley had similar success from 2009-2012, yet hasn’t carried that over as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars the past two seasons.
There’s no guarantee that Quinn, who has never before been a head coach, can build a defense that resembles in any way the one served to him on a platter in Seattle.
Yet beyond the Seahawks’ recent success, there are a number of reasons to believe Quinn is the man to carry the Bears into the next era.
In the NFL, successful defenses are often the ones that consistently pressure the quarterback. And for a team like the Bears, which has serious needs at every position on defense, an upgraded pass rush is the quickest way to overall improvement. Dominant defensive lines make everyone’s job easier.
For his first eight years in the NFL, Quinn was as defensive line coach with the San Francisco 49ers (2003-2004), Miami Dolphins (2005-2006), New York Jets (2007-2008) and Seahawks (2009-2010). He’s worked with Pro Bowlers Bryant Young, Jason Taylor and Shaun Ellis.
Under Quinn in 2006, Taylor had one of the best seasons of his Hall-of-Fame career: 13.5 sacks, nine forced fumbles, eight passes defended and two interceptions, both of which he returned for touchdowns.
Quinn has been very successful in developing pass-rushing units to their potential. In four of his eight years as a defensive line coach, his units finished seventh or better in the NFL in total sacks. In his first years as DC in Seattle, the Seahawks finished eighth in sacks.
Quinn worked under Bradley for two years. While Bradley’s Jaguars have struggled to win games, it hasn’t been due to a lack of pass rush, as Jacksonville finished 8th in the NFL in sacks this year.
At the very least, Quinn would greatly improve Chicago’s pass rush.
Quinn has been able to create cohesiveness despite having the league’s youngest defense. That speaks a lot to his ability to get through to his players, an area in which Mel Tucker failed miserably.
The Seahawks also boast one of the smallest defenses in the league, prioritizing speed and quickness throughout the lineup. That’s a philosophy Quinn would surely bring with him.
In terms of bringing back the old-school Bears mentality of running the football and playing strong defense, Quinn is the ideal candidate. During his four years in Seattle, Quinn has learned the value of a strong running game, one that rode Marshawn Lynch to a Super Bowl title last season, and could do it again this year.
In addition, hiring a head coach fresh off two Super Bowl titles would instantly bring credibility and a winning attitude to Chicago’s locker room. Of all the things Trestman lacked, credibility amongst his players might have been the most damaging.
With Quinn on board, the defense would immediately improve and the offense would revolve around the rushing attack. That’s Bears football.
After today, Ted Phillips, Ernie Accorsi and George McCaskey won’t have the opportunity to speak with Quinn until the Seahawks – who are on bye this week and have home-field advantage throughout the postseason – are knocked out of the playoffs.
If Seattle advances to the Super Bowl, Bears brass can next speak with him in the first week leading up to the title game. Yet in that scenario, Quinn would not be available to sign with anyone until the day after the Super Bowl, Feb. 3, at the earliest.
That’s a month away. Quinn would then have to build his coaching staff, further putting the team behind in its preparation for next season, particularly in the draft. Even if the team hires a GM in the interim, the club would be handcuffed in terms of its progression toward the 2015 league year if they sit on their hands and wait for Quinn.
In addition, Quinn is also on the radar of every other team with a head coach vacancy. The Bears would take a big risk waiting for him if they weren’t sure of his intentions following the Super Bowl. If he were to choose the Jets (Quinn is from New Jersey) or Raiders over the Bears in the week following the championship game, Chicago would take another step backward.
Yet there’s a reason Quinn is at the top of everyone’s list. He’s highly regarded in league circles, he represents very well the teams for which he works and he’s comfortable with the media. He’s also been the best defensive coordinator in the league for two years running, which would give the Bears’ defense the swift kick in the pants it desperately needs.
If the Bears feel strongly he’ll accept their offer following the Seahawks’ playoff run, Quinn would be worth the wait.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.