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Commanders set to hire Cowboys DC Dan Quinn as new head coach

The 2021 Assistant Coach of the Year is climbing the ladder back to a familiar place -- and he doesn't even need to leave the NFC East to do so.

The Washington Commanders are set to hire Dan Quinn as their next head coach, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported, per sources.

Quinn, 53, makes the move from Dallas, where he'd spent the last three seasons as a lauded defensive expert overseeing the Cowboys to two top-12 finishes in total defense (including a fifth-place finish in 2023) and attracted plenty of head-coaching interest. A year ago, he decided to withdraw from all searches, choosing to return to Dallas to spend a third season working under Mike McCarthy. This time around, the former NFC Championship-winning head coach of the Falcons is taking the opportunity while it still exists.

Washington's hiring of Quinn marks the second straight instance in which the club chose a defensive-minded candidate with previous head-coaching experience for its top job, following former Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, who was fired in D.C. after a 4-13 finish in 2023. Quinn spent more than five seasons in the top spot in Atlanta before he was fired during the 2020 season.

This hiring, though, seeks to address the Commanders' glaring problems on the defensive side, where Washington finished dead last in total defense in 2023, a season in which they traded not one, but both of their young edge rushers at the deadline.

The Commanders' well-documented struggles prompted Rivera to fire defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio during the 2023 season, leaving the coach to take over play-calling duties. The results didn't produce much of an improvement, though, and Washington is hoping the hiring of Quinn will deliver the results they so desperately seek.

Quinn will oversee a Commanders team in need of a firm answer at quarterback. Second-year passer Sam Howell finished 2023 on a low note, leading many to wonder whether he has a future with the team. They own the No. 2 overall pick and will have a prime opportunity to select one of the top quarterbacks in the 2024 class, if they so desire.

Plenty of work is left to be done in Washington, where new owner Josh Harris has completed his first head coach hiring process. If all goes according to plan, he won't have to do so again for some time.

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