Cowboys lead candidate to replace Dan Quinn feels obvious

Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine talks to defense pass game coordinator Joe
Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine talks to defense pass game coordinator Joe / Adam Wesley/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin,

Better to have the band-aid ripped off now, than have it slowly peeled as the Dallas Cowboys meandered through the playoffs, right? The band-aid in question is Dan Quinn, who suddenly feels like a lock to leave the Dallas Cowboys after the season now that his former team is without a head coach.

The Seahawks sent shockwaves around the NFL on Wednesday when they announced longtime head coach Pete Caroll wouldn't return. Carroll will be back as a team adviser, but nobody expected the 72-year-old to be out of a job after he led Seattle to another winning season; his 11th in 14 seasons.

Before this shocker, Quinn had already secured head coach interviews with the Panthers, Commanders and Chargers. The Titans joined that list on Wednesday. The Seahawks might trump those teams in terms of appeal given Quinn's ties to the franchise.

He went to two Super Bowls and won a title in two years as Seattle's defensive coordinator. That history has many believing he'll be the Seahawks next head coach.

That begs the question of whom the Cowboys will turn to as Quinn's replacement. A simple connecting of the dots leads us to Joe Whitt Jr., Quinn's right-hand man and Dallas' passing game coordinator.

Cowboys assistant Joe Whitt Jr. feels like obvious candidate to replace Dan Quinn

We know what you're going to say: Why wouldn't Whitt just leave with Quinn and become his defensive coordinator? It's a fair question. For starters, Whitt would have more responsibility, and therefore get more credit, working with an offensive head coach (Mike McCarthy) than with a defensive head coach.

Not only that, but Whitt and Quinn only worked together for one season before their partnership in Dallas. Whitt served as the Falcons passing game coordinator in 2020, which turned out to be Quinn's final year as Atlanta's head coach.

Conversely, Whitt spent over a decade on McCarthy's staff in Green Bay. There's a deeper history with McCarthy than Quinn, even if Whitt and Quinn formed a close bond over their three years together in Atlanta and Dallas.

Whitt quickly moved up the ranks on McCarthy's staff. He started as defensive quality control coach in 2008 before he was promoted to secondary/cornerbacks coach, a title he held for nine seasons spanning 2009-17. He was then promoted to defensive pass game coordinator in 2018, McCarthy's final year in Green Bay.

Many Cowboys fans have pointed to secondary coach Al Harris as Quinn's replacement, but it's unlikely Harris jumps Whitt in line. If anyone is to leave with Quinn, it could be Harris, who could receive defensive coordinator interest elsewhere by the time this year's hiring cycle is over.

This all hinges on Quinn leaving, but the Seahawks opening feels like the opportunity he's been waiting for. The Cowboys have a number of qualified assistants to replace Quinn, but Whitt should be the lead candidate.

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