What did Commanders coach Dan Quinn say about his time with Cowboys, Micah Parsons?

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Former Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn knows exactly how many days it’s been since he was fired as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons in 2020 before getting a second chance with the Washington Commanders,

“It’s been 1,234 days since I was let go,” Quinn said from the NFL Scouting Combine this week. “And so there has been plenty of opportunity that led to make sure that I thought a lot about this and from the staff standpoint, from the processes that need to go in place. I really had chance to reflect and do that. And so every once in a while, you’re at the right place at the right time, in your life and in your career. And I certainly feel like that’s this place right now for me.”

It’s been 45 days since arguably his worst performance as Cowboys defensive coordinator in the season-ending 49-32 playoff loss to Green Bay Packers. As much as he has tried, Quinn still has no answers for his unit’s inability to stop the run or the pass.

“That was a huge action to find why that performance wasn’t to the standard that we had set,” Quinn said. “And I wish there was one thing to say ‘This is one thing that we could have done differently’ because those are games are the ones that leave a scar. They’re hard to deal with. (The) team had been an excellent tackling team, great on takeaways. So that hurt. That stung. But if there was one thing that you would put your finger on, and you certainly would have done that early.”

Quinn looks back on his time with the Cowboys fondly and believes it played a huge role in him getting the Washington job.

Quinn was hired in Mike McCarthy’s second season as head coach to turn around a defense that had been one of the worst in franchise history.

And he certainly did that. No unit forced more turnovers over the last three seasons and few teams got after the quarterback better than the Cowboys under Quinn.

“I think it was absolute awesome experience for me,” Quinn said. “From a defensive standpoint to go in and say these were changes I had to make. Certainly from Mike, I learned a lot all the way from the philosophy of a team, of the staff, of a program and of a locker room and all the important markers along the way. And so having the three years with Mike was huge, having two years with [owner] Jerry [Jones] and [vice president] Stephen [Jones] and [scouting chief] Will McClay, I’m a better coach for that time with them. And so those people, those players always have a special spot in my heart because without them, I wouldn’t have this opportunity here.”

Quinn had opportunities to leave for head coaching jobs after each of his first two seasons but decided to remain in Dallas in hopes of helping the Cowboys reach the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1995 season.

He is gone and now the Cowboys will head into a 29th year since their last Super Bowl title. Quinn has no answers for the Cowboys futility, but he says the right pieces are in place.

“I don’t know that, but I wish I did because part of the reason for going back there last year was to absolutely go for it in the biggest way,” Quinn said. “To come up short, that hurt. I think as a competitor, you keep going back and you keep getting back in the fight and you find you the small edges and small margins to do that. And I know that they will. They’ve got a really strong and solid locker room. And if you have that part right first, that gives you a real chance to make your mark.”

Quinn’s biggest mark in Dallas was unleashing edge rusher Micah Parsons on the NFL. Parsons, an off-the-ball linebacker at Penn State, was named All-Pro in his first three seasons in the league, all three under Quinn, who rushed him from all over the defense.

“One of the fun parts about Mike is he pushed me to think differently,” Quinn said. “And I think that’s when you have a rare player of how do you find unique things about them and then try to feature those — off the ball, on the ball, rush over guard, over the tackle. First and foremost, you have to be a really smart person to be able to play those kinds of different positions and he is. And then you have to have the competitiveness to say, I can go attack him and I can go attack him because the better you get, you get more attention. And so you have to then find ways to beat a chip and beat a double team and find unique ways to do that.

“So it was fun to go through that process with him. I’m super proud of him. You know the trajectory that he’s on and I think he’s gonna continue on in that way.”

Quinn said the Cowboys defense missed rookie linebacker DeMarvion Overshown, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason.

He said Overshown, a 2023 third-round pick from Texas, will help make the unit better in 2024.