The Dallas Cowboys made a huge move bringing in Dan Quinn as their new defensive coordinator. Quinn was most recently the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, but prior to that he won a Super Bowl as defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks and the famed Legion of Boom.
Late in the 2020 season, the Cowboys defense started to generate some serious turnovers. In Weeks 14, 15, and 16 they had a combined 10 turnovers and went 3-0 during that stretch.
Quinn knows all about creating turnovers. In his first season as defensive coordinator in Seattle, the Seahawks led the league with 39 turnovers in the regular season and added eight more in the playoffs. They also led the league in points allowed and yards allowed.
We broke down exactly what his defense will look like in the latest episode of BTB’s Film Room series.
Schematically, Quinn is multiple but favors a 4-man front with a single-high safety. The benefit of this defensive look give is that it allows you to put another player in the box.
In this clip, the Broncos have 4 receivers spread out wide. Against many defensive looks, this would leave only one linebacker in the box, but the Seahawks are able to cover all four receivers as still have a 6-man box. This makes them much stronger against the run because they have a player for every gap. As you can see, when each defender gets in his gap even if they all get blocked, there is a free player to make the tackle.
When a tight end creates another gap, the defense can put another player in the box. In this clip, the strong safety aligns to the tight end side and does a great job of setting the edge and forcing the ball back inside to the rest of the defensive front. Again, the defense has a player for each gap and the offense is one short on blockers.
Quinn will vary his coverages, but preferring one high safety his defenses largely play Cover 3 or Cover 1. This is a good look at Cover 3. The corners start out tight but bail to a deep third, with the free safety playing the deep middle third. There are 4 defenders in the underneath zones. They are concerned with mid-range throws and when the ball is thrown short to the check down, they funnel down and make the tackle, in this case, bringing on fourth down.
Here we see Cover 1. The defense plays man against all potential receivers and has a deep middle safety to help on posts and another defender to help on in-breaking routes underneath. In this case, the safety rocks down and picks up the crosser, and the defender who was originally playing him becomes the hole player.
Quinn coached defenses are physical and make plays and that is exactly what the Cowboys need to succeed in 2021. This was an excellent hire. Quinn will get the most out of the talent in Dallas and his defense will create turnovers.