The 2021 NFL regular season is officially in the books and while the Dallas Cowboys are headed to the playoffs there are 18 teams who are not so lucky. One of the units staying at home for the postseason is actually a team that beat the Cowboys rather handily - the Denver Broncos. It was a rocky ride for Denver this season, but they do seem to have enough pieces to be interesting if they make the right changes over the coming months.
The Broncos committed to a seismic change by dismissing head coach Vic Fangio on Sunday morning. They are obviously in the market for a new head coach, and according to NFL Network, want to interview Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
Denver is the second team so far to request an interview with Quinn, the Jacksonville Jaguars being the other. Quinn actually declined to interview with the Jaguars in the timeframe that they asked as he expressed commitment to the Cowboys’ playoff run. It would stand to reason that he will take that same approach with the Broncos, but that is yet to be seen.
The Cowboys have had a lot of success on defense this year and obviously Quinn is a big reason for that. It feels like forever ago at this point, but it is worth noting that Quinn was the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons for over five years before coming to Dallas. It always made sense that new head coaching opportunities would come soon for him if he had success in his first post away from Atlanta. Here we are.
It is notable that NFL Network specifically said that Quinn will be a “strong candidate” for the Broncos, seemingly inferring that it could very well wind up being his job. If he were to leave the Cowboys would obviously be in need of a defensive coordinator for 2022.
Options for a Dan Quinn replacement at defensive coordinator in Dallas
The Broncos were not the only team to move on from the head coach obviously. Monday brought with it the news that the Minnesota Vikings fired Mike Zimmer who is obviously a name with defensive history in Dallas. He would theoretically be an option to take over as defensive coordinator and it is worth noting that there has been a lot of smoke with Zimmer and the Cowboys before.
December 28th, 2019: NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport suggested that the Cowboys could trade for Mike Zimmer (unless he is fired he can only be acquired via trade).
December 29th, 2019: ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio named Mike Zimmer as an option for the Cowboys job prior to the final game of the 2019 regular season.
January 1st, 2020: On an episode of the Yahoo Sports NFL Podcast, Charles Robinson threw out the idea of Dallas pairing Lincoln Riley (as a head coach) with Mike Zimmer (as a defensive coordinator) if the latter were fired.
January 3rd, 2020: ESPN’s Dan Graziano noted that he believed the Cowboys could go with a defensive head coach (he suggested Dennis Allen or Leslie Frazier) but added that he would be watching the Saints-Vikings Wildcard game and that the Cowboys could “take a run” at Zimmer. For what it’s worth, Graziano also mentioned Dan Campbell as another option.
There is no guarantee that Zimmer would be the defensive coordinator of the future, but he is without question an option. For what it’s worth, perhaps the Cowboys could just swap with the Denver Broncos and hire Vic Fangio to be their new defensive coordinator. Mike McCarthy has been fond of former head coaches on his staff throughout his time in Dallas as evidenced by Dan Quinn and many others.
Buckle up. Things could be changing around here.