Washington’s Dan Quinn was counting the days to his return as a head coach

INDIANAPOLIS — Washington Commanders coach Dan Quinn has been plotting his return to the head coaching ranks since he was fired by the Falcons on Oct. 11, 2020.

“It’s been 1,234 days since I was let go,” Quinn said Tuesday in response to a question from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “So, there has been plenty of opportunity to make sure that … I thought a lot about this.”

After three seasons in Dallas as the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator, Quinn was hired by the Commanders early this month to be their new head coach.

“From the staff standpoint, from the processes that need to go in place,” Quinn said. “The personnel, the scouting and my involvement with them. So, more so now than ever, I really had a chance to reflect and do that.”

Quinn had been in demand over the past two coaching cycles, but was selective.

“Every once in a while, you’re at the right place at the right time, in your life and in your career,” Quinn said. “I certainly feel like that this place, right now, is for me.”

As was his custom with the Falcons, the authentic coach was stoked about his new job.

“I’m so damn pumped to get rocking,” Quinn said.

The Commanders, who are under new ownership after the tumultuous tenure of former owner Daniel Snyder, are looking to a return to being one of the NFL’s superpowers. They haven’t had a winning season since going 8-7-1 in 2016.

“With us, it’s really the right now,” Quinn said. “It’s what’s now. That’s the type of urgency that we are looking for. We want to absolutely go for it in every single way.”

The Commanders, like the Falcons, are in the quarterback market. The Commanders hold the second pick in the draft and likely will have their pick between LSU’s Jayden Daniels and North Carolina’s Drake Maye if the Bears hold on to the top pick and select USC signal-caller Caleb Williams.

After being fired by the Falcons, Quinn sat out the reminder of the 2020 season and did some coaching projects. He was hired to help revamp the Cowboys defense. The Cowboys finished 12-5 in each of the past three seasons and went to the playoffs.

Quinn was elated when the Cowboys demolished the Falcons 43-3 on Nov. 14, 2021 in Dallas.

He would love to lead the Commanders to a return to their glory days.

“I spoke at the presser, my first one about recalibration of the team, doing that together,” Quinn said. “More than anything, its finding our identity together. That’s been one of the fun parts of getting started on something new.”

The Commanders now are owned by Josh Harris, and Earvin “Magic” Johnson is part of the ownership group.

“It’s the relationships that you have and you get to build,” Quinn said. “There is obviously a lot of new relationships with the job for (general manager) Adam (Peters) and myself, through scouts (and) through coaching,” Quinn said. “To have ways to connect that, that’s absolutely been one of the highlights so far of the job.”

Quinn is looking forward to the interview portion of the combine.

“You are trying to get into not the ballplayer, but the man,” Quinn said. “Find out (who) they are and what they stand for, we are looking for that kind of competitor, that kind of toughness.”

Quinn’s ability to relate to his players has been one of his strengths.

“So, you ask them leading questions to find those answers,” Quinn said. “I enjoy that part as much as any ... it might be running back, it could be defensive end or it’s a quarterback. It just digging in behind the scenes to the person first.”

Quinn enjoyed his time in Dallas, but now will be on the other side of that traditional NFC East rivalry.

“Certainly from (Cowboys coach) Mike (McCarthy) I learned a lot from his philosophy of a team, of a staff, of a locker room and all of the important markers along the way,” Quinn said. “I thought with the teams there, he threw a helluva training camp. ... Having the three years with Mike was huge. Having the years with (owner) Jerry (Jones), (executive Stephen Jones), (executive) Will McClay, I’m a better coach from that time with them.”

But is Quinn ready for his second chance. He became just the second coach to lead the Falcons to the Super Bowl. His teams were physical and tough, but the draft picks for the defense after Super Bowl 51 was off the mark and after the 2017 playoff run, the team started to slide back into the pack.

After starting the 2020 season 0-5, Quinn was fired.

“It was 1,234 (days),” Quinn said. “It was easy to remember, 1,2,3 and 4. But I think what that verifies is that I had time to think about this. I had time to go visit with people and make sure that every stop I wanted to do it better.

“That I found ways to do that. That’s why this time and those three years were super important for me. I wasn’t going to rush into something that you couldn’t absolutely ... go for it at the highest level because that’s the only way I want to go after it.

“So, it took a while to get to that space. Like most things that are really important, they do take some time. It took me that time to do that.”

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