I thought Bruce Irvin put it best regarding the possible -- perhaps likely -- departure of defensive coordinator Dan Quinn for a head-coaching job and leaving behind the league No. 1 defense following this Seahawks season.
"DQ is a great coach, don't get be wrong," the outside linebacker said before practice today. "But DQ don't go out there and play."
The hottest name related to NFL head-coaching vacancies would rather cool it on such talk right now.
Quinn has more pressing matters.
Last week he was more like Anderson Cooper, interviewing with people from all over the country. The New York Jets flew into Seattle to talk to him about becoming their next head coach. The Buffalo Bills talked to Quinn about their head job. The San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears also interviewed him. So did the Atlanta Falcons.
If the Harlem Globetrotters had an opening they probably would have talked to Quinn, too.
The only NFL team with a head-coaching vacancy that didn’t talk to Quinn was Oakland. But the Raiders did interview Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell -- and they always do things a little differently, anyway.
Last week the league allowed needy teams to talk to coaching candidates from teams on a first-round playoff bye. This week, Quinn wants the focus to be on his current team, not a potential future one of his.
“Fortunately the NFL has a system in place that during the bye and off time it allows the coaches that have that bye to get a chance to visit,” Quinn said following Wednesday’s outdoor practice. “Through the support of Coach (Pete Carroll) and the people here, it’s a terrific deal.”
As for how the interviews went, Quinn disguised more than the defense he coaches does.
“I’ll defer to the clubs on that in their own policies as they go,” he said. “That was kind of past here during the bye. It was nice getting back into the weekend, and finally figuring out who we get to play against. And the focus has all been back to Carolina.”
Pressed for any sense he may have gotten from the Jets, Bills, 49ers, Bears and Falcons or what he may have learned about himself and his philosophies last week, Quinn said only: “It was a great experience and I was glad I was able to go through it.”
Beyond that, nothing else but a polite grin.
It seems more likely that Quinn leaves after this Seattle season ends than either Bevell or Seahawks assistant head coach Tom Cable, the former head man of the Raiders who also interviewed with the Jets last week.
NFL rules prohibit hiring teams from announcing a new coach from a playoff team until after that team’s season is complete.
Here is All-Pro safety Earl Thomas discussing how much he loves playing for Quinn. (Yes, we asked about what that striped Band-Aid under his left eye was for. He wouldn't answer, choosing to keep it "between myself."):
And here is all that Quinn said today:
Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn
January 7, 2015
(On Carolina’s offense) Well they have a number of feature guys—it’s almost in a way to where we’re getting familiar with these guys—usually when you’re not playing your division team as often. So they present a number of challenges. One, they have terrific running backs in terms of style, attitude, the way that they run, and feature receivers—13 [Kelvin Benjamin], 88 [Greg Olsen], and Cam [Newton] does a number of things—not just with his arm, but with the way he can extend plays with his feet. So fortunately for us, we get to practice against a guy who is pretty good at extending plays as well. So getting a chance on days like today and yesterday where we get to go up against our own offense I think as much as anything helps us get ready for the style of runners and mobile quarterbacks. So we’re fortunate in that way to play against Russ [Russell Wilson] and the guys here every day.
(On the quantity of Carolina’s run plays) Yes—they’ve got a big playbook in the run game. One of the things that’s so remarkable is that it’s not just one guy that’s doing it all the time. So you add in the quarterback as a runner and it’s a real factor.
(On Cam Newton’s decisions to run) I think he’s a stronger runner from the size and someone that we respect in regard in that way—the extension of plays as well as the designed runs for him to take it—so definitely a dual threat in a true sense.
(On RB Jonathan Stewart) He’s somebody that we really respect a lot. I think it’s the tackles that he breaks, the yards after contact—what a strong runner. That’s one of the things we talk about when we talk about tackling every week and we talk about the opponents and the style of how they run so he’s somebody that we hold in high regard.
(On emphasis on tackling Cam Newton) I think you do—he’s really strong, even in his core. We’ve seen that all season where a guy on the top can fall off of him and I think when you see some of the big and tall guys do that—we’ve seen it from him, we’ve seen it from [Ben] Roethlisberger over the years where those guys who have such core strength and they’re over the top, and they’re just finishing. So finishing is really the emphasis for us and sometimes it may not be the first guy that gets there for us, it may be the second, the third, or the fourth effort. Really—that’s when we’re at our best, when you feel that special effort of our defense and it’s a great challenge for us that we can’t wait to be a part of.
(On Bruce Irvin) All the way back from last year—when we moved him to linebacker, we said, ‘Ok this is going to be an every down guy.’ He didn’t start the year or he didn’t start to where he could be in all the packages early, but as we went through, we knew the evaluation on him. He could play all the stuff on his feet. When we got in from the off-season, he worked incredibly hard to become a pass rusher as well as a linebacker. I think all the work that he has put in is kind of coming together and he’s really feeling it—both as a rusher and a linebacker.
(On his impact on the defense) It’s huge for us—I think his development as a rusher has been huge for Michael Bennett and Cliff [Avril] in his own right because he’s helped those guys because he’s the factor that we anticipated on him being. So he’s on a terrific run in terms of the attitude and the style that he plays with so we couldn’t be more pleased with where he’s at.
(On him shaping the defense’s identity) Fortunately when I came back here, I came to a terrific spot with a number of good coaches. For me, it was more me being inclusive with the group and finding more ways to feature some of the guys—Bruce [Irvin] being included or how to use the players in our best way. So I don’t know if there are any whole sale changes, I’ll defer to coach on that. I was fortunate enough to come back to a part of a great group of defensive guys and coaches. It was awesome—I don’t know if the identity was any different, we just had some new pieces that we wanted to mix in and that was Cliff [Avril], Michael Bennett, and how to use different guys as a part of the package so I think it was more of how does everybody fit it all in together.
(On replacing Jordan Hill) I think it’ll be a group effort—He’s really come on as a rusher. Like every once and a while you try to have a visual of what a player can be, and I think with him and his quickness, that he could be that inside nickel rusher. Through the first part of the year, he had to learn on the job and grow into it and he certainly did. So fortunately for us Demarcus Dobbs is back into the mix and he’s an inside rusher for us. Kevin [Williams] is one that we’ll work inside too. Fortunately, Demarcus is back and we have him here ready to work in, but I agree that Jordan was really on a good stretch.
(On head coaching interview process) Well fortunately, the NFL has a system in place that during the bye and off time, it allows the coaches that have that bye, to get a chance to visit and through the support of Coach [Carroll] and the people here, it’s a terrific deal. I’ll defer to the clubs on that in their own policies as they go. That was kind of past here during the bye and it was nice getting back into the weekend, and finally figuring out who we get to play against, and the focus has all been back to Carolina.
(On the interview process being overwhelming) Certainly not—with the way the league is set up, that it gives those guys the time to do it during our off time so now it’s back to it. I appreciate the league, and certainly Pete [Carroll] and John [Schneider] being supportive as they are.
(On Greg Olsen) The fun part about coaching in the NFL—all the different feature guys, and he’s a terrific tight end from first and second down and in pass. Terrific hands—so another great matchup for us and it’ll be a number of feature guys that match up against him as well. So they’ve got a really good team, hard-nosed, and tough. It seems like every time we play, it’s a real battle and that’s what we’re expecting again.
(On how he keeps it simple) I think one of the things we talk about is freeing ourselves up mentally so we can play fast. So some times when you have a ton of calls or checks at the line of scrimmage, you’re more concerned about that then when you’re playing your fastest at the line of scrimmage. So we just try to free the guys up mentally so they can play fast and physical—that’s the style that we love so all the things are kind of geared towards that.
(On what he learned from the interview process) It was a great experience and I was glad I was able to go through it.
(On his connection with the players) I’m so fortunate to be a part of this group—the closeness that we have, the connection, the players and the assistant coaches who are here—it’s a blast to be a part of and all of the guys working in concert together. We’ve got a terrific group of guys, and play just as hard—they don’t back down from any challenges so I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of a unit.
(On Landon Cohen) When we worked him out before, we knew he had the quickness so that’s what we were looking to see when Jordan went down—is there another guy that we could add into the mix, who has the quickness as an inside rusher. So yes—improvement even from the first day to the second day for him even as we got back into the practice week. Today was a bigger emphasis with third down and the rushing, which kind of suits his strengths.
(On Landon Cohen playing this weekend) We’re getting closer to that—I think we’re going to make the decision after we go through all of the way tomorrow, but the first two days, he is off to a good start and then we’ll visit with it as we get towards the end of the week.
(On Landon Cohen and Jordan Hill comparison) Yes—same in terms of quickness and using him as an inside rusher. Sometimes when you look at defensive tackles, they come in a lot shapes and sizes, sometimes there are the big guys who are first and second down—anchor and stay in there. Then, there are the other guys who want to get active and be on the move. So as long as we got enough different guys and try to feature them in the right way and Landon would be in the category of one of the guys that’s on the move, up field, and using his quickness.
(On Will Tukuafu role increases) It could, he has done a terrific job—I know you guys have mentioned it before with Will, but for him to be able to play on both sides and the work that he does to get ready—a real tribute to him and the mindset that he has and Travis Jones, and the guys have getting him ready. Really unique guy—I know you guys have spent some time with him as well, but we’re real fortunate to be able to have him here, and then his willingness, ‘Whatever you need Coach.’ You love that attitude about guys who—offense, defense, plays on special teams. He’s a blast to be around.
(On Will Tukuafu’s preparation) Yes—after practice, we’ve spent time together, he sit next to me in the team meetings so if we have to compare notes, we do that early too, but he does a terrific job in terms of the preparation.