Dan Quinn could screw Cowboys with reported hijacking of likely replacement

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Dallas Cowboys v Buffalo Bills / Rich Barnes/GettyImages

After weeks of twists and turns in the coaching carousel, the Dallas Cowboys officially need a new defensive coordinator. Having to change course after Lions OC Ben Johnson left them at the altar, the Washington Commanders hired Quinn to be their next head coach.

Quinn was a reported finalist alongside Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn. Perhaps Quinn's track record in the NFL both as a head coach and successful assistant drew Washington to Quinn, who now takes over a franchise equipped with the No. 2 overall pick, loads of draft capital and oodles of cap space.

It's both a puzzling hire for the Commanders and a baffling decision for Quinn. While Washington is trending in the right direction, it's a bid odd Quinn waited three years for this job. Perhaps his nightmare game in the playoffs against the Packers left him with limited opportunities.

It was widely expected that the Cowboys would promote defensive passing game coordinator Joe Whitt Jr. to replace Quinn. In a stunning turn of events, though, multiple insiders expect Quinn to bring Whitt with him to Washington to be his defensive coordinator.

Dan Quinn could screw Cowboys by bringing Joe Whitt Jr. with him to the Commanders

Steve Wyche's report was retweeted by Ian Rapoport, so there's clearly some legs behind Whitt following Quinn to the nation's capital. That would leave the Cowboys in a bind as there's no other surefire replacement for Quinn. Whitt served as Quinn's right-hand man and called the defense whenever Quinn missed time.

Whitt also has a decade of experience under Mike McCarthy, who brought Whitt with him to Dallas when he was hired as head coach in 2020. It long seemed like Whitt was the next man up. That might still be the case, but this report throws a wrench into the Cowboys' seamless succession plan.

Whitt ultimately has the final say here. He has a longer foundation with McCarthy and the Commanders defense couldn't stop a nosebleed last year.

Perhaps Whitt wants to spread his wings and build a name for himself outside of McCarthy's shadow, but it's fair to question how much influence he'd have on Washington's defense given Quinn, a defensive guy, will be the head coach. In Dallas, Whitt would seemingly have full control of the defense.

If Whitt leaves, who do the Cowboys pivot to? DBs coach Al Harris, considered a rising star in league circles, will presumably follow Quinn. Even so, he's likely a year or two away from being ready to call a defense. Ron Rivera has been mentioned as a potential replacement. Does Brandon Staley enter the equation?

There's suddenly so much gray area now that Quinn wants to hijack Whitt.

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