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Seahawks HC Pete Carroll, Dan Quinn
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Seahawks’ Pete Carroll addresses former DC Dan Quinn’s firing in Atlanta

Could Pete Carroll bring ex-Seahawks DC Dan Quinn back to Seattle after Atlanta fired him? (Getty)

One of the most beloved Seahawks assistant coaches in franchise history is back on the open market as Dan Quinn was fired by the Falcons on Sunday after serving as Atlanta’s head coach since 2015.

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Quinn was Seattle’s defensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014, when the Seahawks appeared in back-to-back Super Bowls, with the Legion of Boom defense dominating opponents under Quinn’s guidance.

When Pete Carroll was named Seahawks head coach in 2010, one of the few coaches he retained from the 2009 squad was Quinn, who at the time was the team’s defensive line coach. He left after 2010 to become the defensive coordinator of the Florida Gators in college, but returned to Seattle as defensive coordinator in 2013 after Gus Bradley, the team’s defensive coordinator from 2009 to 2012, left to become head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

When talking Monday morning to 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant on The Pete Carroll Show, Carroll was asked about Quinn’s firing from Atlanta and whether Quinn could return to Seattle to help coach the defense. Carroll seemed to leave the door open on the possibility, but as of Monday morning, he said he and Quinn haven’t spoken at all since the news broke that Quinn is out as Falcons head coach.

“I haven’t even talked to Danny yet. It all happened and we kind of heard the news leaking out. I haven’t talked to him yet,” Carroll said. “I don’t know what he’s thinking. My first thought is, what’s good for Dan to help him get through this? Like if there’s something we can do to help him, then we’ll talk about it or whatever.”

Quinn led the Falcons to the Super Bowl in the 2016 season, but after his team blew a 28-3 lead to the New England Patriots and lost in overtime, Atlanta has struggled, especially over the last two seasons.

“It’s a tough deal, but he’ll be the first to tell you, they (started) 0-7 last year and then went 6-2 in the second half of the season and turned their season around, but they (started) 0-5 (this year) and that’s hard to live with,” Carroll said. “Unfortunately, that’s what it comes down to. He’s a great football coach, he’s a terrific person and we love him and all that. We wish him the best. It’s a hard time for him.”

Later in his Monday press conference, Carroll was again asked about Quinn, but was a little more to the point about hiring him at this moment.

“I’m not thinking anything about that right now.”

If Quinn returns, what’s his role?

With the Seahawks struggling mightily on defense again in 2020 after a poor showing in 2019, defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. is again drawing complaints from fans of the franchise.

Those struggles, coupled with Quinn’s removal from Atlanta, has some wondering whether Quinn could come in and replace Norton as the defensive play caller. That sort of move is, simply put, not going to happen during the season.

That’s not to say that Norton couldn’t be fired during the regular season – though that seems unlikely as well as Carroll is extremely loyal to his coaching staff and the team is still undefeated through five games – but if that were to happen, Norton’s replacement would almost certainly come in-house from someone who has been around this team all year long. Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Bruce Irvin are the only Seahawks on defense who played for Quinn in Seattle, and Irvin is out for the year.

If Quinn were to be hired, it would likely be in two different scenarios.

The first would be – if the Seahawks hired him this season – as a defensive consultant or assisting with the defensive line. Those sort of hires happen, such as when Hue Jackson was fired as Browns head coach in 2018 and returned to the Bengals, where he’d previously served as offensive coordinator, in the middle of the season as an offensive assistant. That sort of move with Quinn could lead to him assuming play calling duties over the next offseason but probably not during the 2020 campaign.

The other scenario would be Quinn not coaching the rest of 2020 and then coming back to Seattle this offseason either as defensive coordinator in place of Norton, or as a defensive assistant or consultant. That would give Quinn an entire offseason as well as training camp to get re-acclimated with the franchise and get to know the members of the defense he has no personal familiarity with.

Listen to The Pete Carroll Show at this link or in the player below.

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Danny and Gallant Show