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Head Coaching Search: Dan Quinn

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Although we have provided you with a long list of head coaching candidates, there are certainly a few individuals that are more likely than others. Among those is Dan Quinn, the defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks. Unlike his offensive counterpart, Darrell Bevell, who has struggled despite one of the best quarterbacks and running backs in the league, Quinn has flourished in the past two years.

The selection of another defensive head coach would raise some eyebrows, with Woody Johnson having only hired defensive head coaches. However, if there’s one candidate that deserves consideration despite that, it’s Quinn.

One of the major issues that Rex Ryan has had in his tenure with the New York Jets, it's that he never really seemed to learn from his mistakes. Whether it was time management concerns, hiring/managing the offense, or even relying for far too long on his veterans, we continued to see the same blunders over and over again. In contrast, Quinn appears to adapt to changing circumstances:

"He’s not married to a scheme; he wants you to grow," [Michael] Bennett says of Quinn. "He changes with the players."

Such is the hallmark of Quinn as a man and a coach—an open-mindedness that has vaulted the New Jersey native, at age 43, to the top of football’s unofficial power ranking of future head coaches. During what will likely be his last training camp as a coordinator, the brains behind football’s No. 1 defense sports a loose-fitting t-shirt, a weathered cap and a toothy grin.

"One of things I’ve learned from Coach [Pete] Carroll is how to use our featured players," Quinn says. "There’s a tendency to say, oh, he doesn’t fit the system. Coach Carroll is more like, what does he have that’s special?"

That means letting oversized safety Kam Chancellor set the edge in the run game and putting cornerback Richard Sherman in press situations on the line of scrimmage, and of course, matching up Bennett on occasion against lumbering offensive guards.

"All of those guys are so unique," Quinn says. "You ask yourself, how can we feature them?"

Danny Kelly's mini-scouting report is particularly interesting if the team loses Karl Dunbar, the defensive line technician that has really helped the current group thrive. In particular, many have suggested a 4-3 base defense with the current defensive roster. That would seem to be far more likely with Quinn than with Ryan.

Although Quinn has never been a head coach before, he seems uniquely suited for the task in New York. He grew up in Morristown, New Jersey, just a few minutes from the team's facilities, and was a defensive line coach here in 2007-2008 under Eric Mangini. He's worked for a number of professional teams, such as the Seahawks, Jets, Miami Dolphins, and San Francisco 49ers. Although his ability to draft is unknown, he's shown some ability to lure free agents:

"He convinced me he would use me to the best of my abilities," Bennett says a year later, after inking a four-year contract extension. "I trusted that."

Ultimately, Quinn is not the offensive guru that will necessarily push the Jets into the twenty-first century. However, he appears to be a stable-minded coach that is willing to adapt, something the team has not seen in a long time.