Cowboys lose dream Mike McCarthy replacement thanks to Dan Quinn

Miami Dolphins v Baltimore Ravens
Miami Dolphins v Baltimore Ravens / Todd Olszewski/GettyImages

After a hectic hiring cycle, only one head coach vacancy remains after the Seahawks hired Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald to be their head coach on Wednesday. It's unclear what this means for Dallas Cowboys defensive leader Dan Quinn, who remains in contention for the Commanders job after Ben Johnson shockingly decided to stay put in Detroit.

It's a surprising turn of events for Quinn and the Cowboys, as Quinn was widely pegged as the favorite to get the Seahawks job after they shockingly parted ways with longtime coach Pete Carroll, who guided Seattle to two Super Bowl appearances, including a title in 2013, and 10 playoff berths in 14 years.

Quinn was Carroll's defensive coordinator for both Super Bowl trips. He administered the famed Legion of Boom secondary and his two-year stint as DC put him on the national nap. Quinn returning to Seattle to succeed Carroll seemed written in the stars, but teams are always looking for the next best thing.

In two years on the job, Macdonald established himself as one of the NFL's premier defensive coordinators. With today's news, the dream of the Cowboys hiring Macdonald to replace Mike McCarthy is officially dead.

Mike Macdonald would've been a dream Mike McCarthy replacement for the Cowboys

Macdonald is a home run hire for the Seahawks. Perhaps the biggest stain on Carroll's coaching resume (at least in recent years) was his inability to stop the Shanahan offenses despite Seattle investing significant draft capital and using trades to improve their personnel.

The same can be said about Quinn in terms of his failures against the Shanahan tree.

This season, Macdonald foiled the entire Shanahan tree, including the Dolphins (Mike McDaniel), 49ers (Kyle Shanahan), Texans (Bobby Slowik) and Rams (Sean McVay). The Rams had some success, but that can be attributed to Matthew Stafford playing out of his mind, Sometimes you have to tip your cap.

Macdonald's potential as a head coach goes beyond his ability to combat motion and pre-snap movement, though. This year, the Ravens became the first team in NFL history to lead the league in points allowed, takeaways and sacks. Beyond that is the fact Baltimore's defense played with an edge.

Reporters and analysts talk a lot about the mentality, or lack thereof, of the Cowboys defense. They play the part of bullies when face lesser competition and have a lead, but they fold like a lawn chair when faced with adversity.

Macdonald's unit played with the same energy regardless of the circumstances, including Sunday's loss to the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game. They pitched a shutout in the second half, allowed just 17 points and limited Patrick Mahomes to 6.1 yards per attempt even though they were on the field for an impossible 37 minutes.

The Cowboys defense has the talent to be great. For whatever reason, they shrink in big moments and allow poor drives to snowball.

Ben Johnson, Mike Vrabel, Bobby Slowik and Bill Belichick (among others) will all be available next offseason if Dallas pulls the plug on McCarthy. However, Macdonald would've arguably been the cream of that crop. Having that ace in the hole in case McCarthy falls on his face was something worth holding onto.

If Dan Quinn's defense didn't hemorrhage in the playoffs, maybe he gets the job and Macdonald sticks around in Baltimore for one more year.

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