Cowboys News: Leighton Vander Esch quote shows players would endorse Dan Quinn as head coach

Houston Texans v Dallas Cowboys
Houston Texans v Dallas Cowboys / Sam Hodde/GettyImages

The 2023 NFL Draft proved that Dan Quinn's influence on personnel decisions is conspicuous, and potentially larger than we thought. Quinn has moved mountains with the Dallas Cowboys defense since he was hired as defensive coordinator before the 2021 season.

That would be an understatement.

Not only has the unit's performance improved, but Quinn has instilled an emphasis to continue strengthening the personnel despite its vast improvement on the field. That's how you build a sustainable defense, and Quinn's fingerprints are all over that.

Quinn has clearly earned the respect of Jerry Jones, Mike McCarthy and the entire Cowboys braintrust. Why else would the team invest three of their first four picks, including first-rounder Mazi Smith, on defensive players?

That respect extends into the locker room, too, as veteran leader Leighton Vander Esch heaped significant praise on the defensive mastermind. You simply won't find higher praise for a coordinator, on either side of the ball.

Cowboys' Leighton Vander Esch loves working with Dan Quinn

"“Just the culture and the vibe that he brings in the room every single day is unmatched,” Vander Esch said of Quinn, via The Athletic's Jon Machota. “I’ve said it a hundred times, his energy that he carries with him is contagious. It makes you want to be around him. He literally could have went and got a head coaching job pretty much anywhere that he wanted. And the fact that he stayed here with us, it showed us how much he cared about us and this crew, and really what we can do. We have another opportunity to do that this year and get even better and go for that trophy. That’s our goal and there ain’t going to be nothing short of it.”"

Vander Esch clearly loves the Cowboys. They drafted him, after all, and have stuck by him through myriad injury troubles.

In terms of the linebacker's free agency, though, we can't help but wonder if Quinn's presence propelled the agreement over the finish line. Obviously salary is the most important component, but we can't read this quote and not draw the conclusion that Quinn is a big reason why so many players want to play in Dallas.

While injuries clearly played a part in Vander Esch's inconsistent, for lack of a better term, performance after his breakout rookie year, it speaks volumes that Vander Esch has played his best football since 2018 under Quinn's tutelage.

He parlayed a strong 2021 (Quinn's first year) with a one-year prove-it deal and was arguably a top-five most important player on the Cowboys' defense last season before re-signing on a two-year deal worth up to $11 million this offseason.

The 27-year-old missed the final three games of the regular season with a shoulder stinger, but logged 90 tackles and was a force against the run in 14 games. He would have led the team in tackles if not for the injury, and was one of Dallas' best players in the Wild Card win over the Buccaneers.

It's been speculated that Dan Quinn would replace Mike McCarthy in the event the head coach is let go after another early playoff exit.

After reading Vander Esch's quote, it's hard not to draw the conclusion that players -- on both sides of the ball -- would endorse Quinn as head coach.

Next. Cowboys got a steal with Leighton Vander Esch's contract. dark