Born: September 11, 1970
Daniel Patrick Quinn was born September 11, 1970 in Morristown. Big, smart and powerfully built, Dan was an exceptional all-around athlete who excelled in football and basketball. He captained the Morristown High School Colonials in football and was a member of the track & field squad, specializing in the shot put and hammer throw.
Dan did not have the speed and quickness to attract Division I football coaches, but continued his gridiron career at Division III Salisbury State University in Maryland as a defensive lineman. As a senior, Dan captained the football and track teams. He set a conference record with a hammer throw of 168.8 feet and competed in the 1994 NCAA championships.
After graduation, Dan embarked on his coaching career. He was a defensive line coach for William & Mary and VMI prior to a stint at Hofstra from 1996 to 2000. Hofstra made the I-AA playoffs three times in those five seasons. That caught the attention of the San Francisco 49ers, who added Dan to their staff in 2001. The following season, they won their first division title since 1995.
In his 30s, Dan earned recognition as one of the NFL’s best defensive line coaches. He held that position with the 49ers, Dolphins, Jets and Seahawks from 2003 to 2010. Dan worked with some talented pass-rushers—Jason Taylor and Kevin Carter in Miami, Shaun Ellis and Kris Jenkins in New York, and Chris Clemons and Patrick Kerney in Seattle. Dan also served as defensive coordinator at the University of Florida in 2011 and 2012. The Gators went 17–8 in his two seasons as DC and beat Ohio State in the 2012 Gator Bowl . The 2012 squad lost just once in the regular season and finished with a Top 10 ranking.
In 2013, Pete Carroll brought him back to Seattle as his defensive coordinator, and the Seahawks won their first Super Bowl. Their 48–8 thrashing of the Denver Broncos was arguably the finest defensive effort in Super Bowl history.
The Seahawks returned to the Super Bowl the following year but fell to the Patriots 28–24 on a controversial goal-line turnover. Dan’s work with Seattle’s defense made him a hot head coaching prospect, and he was snapped up by the Atlanta Falcons in 2015.
Dan’s first year in Atlanta saw him rebuild the defense and install a new offense for Matt Ryan. The Falcons looked very good and very bad, often within the same game, and finished with a disappointing 8–8 record after a 5–0 start. In 2016, everything clicked for the offense and the defense got better as the season wore on. The Falcons fashioned an 11–5 record and rolled past the Seahawks and Packers to win the NFC Championship.
The Falcons were underdogs against the Patriots in Super Bowl LI, but New England was without their game-changing receiver, Rob Gronkowski. The Atlanta defense pressured Tom Brady throughout a dominant first half, and went into the locker room with a 21–3 lead. They extended that lead to 28–3 in the third quarter, but the defense began running out of gas.
The Patriots riddled the Falcons with short passes and chipped away at their seemingly insurmountable lead. Instead of running out the clock, Atlanta’s offense tried to pile on points through the air. This strategy backfired badly. The Patriots tied the game and won 34–28 in overtime. Dan and his staff were heavily criticized for their lack of clock management, and as a lifelong defensive coach, Dan was singled out for his inability to recognize how exhausted his players were. New England ran 88 plays from scrimmage to Atlanta’s 41.
The Falcons bounced back from their Super Bowl debacle with a solid 2017 season. They won 10 games and defeated the Rams in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Unfortunately, they ran into the red-hot Eagles next and dropped a 15–10 defensive battle.
Dan was at the helm for a pair of 7–9 seasons in 2018 and 2019. The 2018 campaign was marked by major injuries to a third of his starting players, but in 2019 the problem was an inexplicable 1–7 start. Dan was on the brink of being fired when the Falcons started playing defense and recovered to win 6 of their last 8 games.