Quinn winning at next level with same old defense


Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is fresh off a Super Bowl victory. (AP Photo)

Published: Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.

Every major accomplishment deserves it's rewards, which is why the phone call came from Hawaii.

Dan Quinn was enjoying a rare week off in the NFL, and you could almost hear the waves crashing in the distance.

“The basketball team still have it rolling?” he asked.

The former Florida defensive coordinator is basking in the glow of both the Hawaiian sun and a Super Bowl championship as the Seattle Seahawks defensive chief. In his first year on the job, all he did was design and coach a defense that made Peyton Manning look like Blaine Gabbert.

After two seasons of coaching a dominant defense at Florida, Quinn returned to the NFL and inherited a group of young and talented defensive players. He used a lot of the defensive schemes he used at Florida, where his 2012 squad was one of the elite in college football.

Not much changed at the next level.

I know, the Super Bowl seems like months ago and the fourth quarter was only worth watching in case there was a good commercial. That's how pedestrian Seattle made the league's No. 1 offense look.

“Our scheme was pretty much what we used at Florida,” he said. “A lot of three-deep zone and man coverage. And we stayed with that mindset of challenging people to play and coaching turnovers and takeaways.”

Seattle's blowout win was stunning and almost surreal. The Seahawks put Manning in his place, which was wherever he didn't want to be.

Now, more than a week after the Lombardi Trophy became a reality, Quinn finally had time to get back to me. After I (jokingly) urged him to hang up and go enjoy his time off, he talked about the plan to attack Denver's prolific offense.

“We knew they had so many checks and hand signals, but (trying to figure them out) that's not us,” he said. “We just wanted to put our cleats in the grass and go attack this guy.

“You can check all you want, but at the end of the day, you're going to have to deal with us. We knew we weren't going to sack him a lot because he gets it out of there so quickly and there aren't a lot of down-the-field throws. We just wanted to make sure he wasn't comfortable.”

Wait a second. Didn't the Seattle defenders tell the world they figured out Manning's check at the line of scrimmage? That's a much better story.

“There was some talk of that,” he said with a laugh. “That was more about our guys barking and having fun.”

Meanwhile, back at Florida …

One year after Quinn's departure, the Gators had a miserable season. There's no sense regurgitating the horror story that was Florida football in 2013.

But Florida's was an offensive problem. The defense did have issues making stops when they were absolutely vital, especially after losing Dominique Easley to injury three games in, but it certainly did not play at a 4-8 level.

Quinn kept track of the Gators and was as surprised as anybody.

“A lot of times we were in meetings, but I followed them every week,” he said. “My wife would text me what was going on in the games. You recruit these guys, you get to know them and their families. I was definitely pulling for them.

“I'm hoping they can turn it around. I think Jeff (Driskel) coming back is going to be huge for them. He has a chance to be special.”

Quinn will see some of those former Florida players at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis in a little more than a week.

There was a time when a lot of us were wondering if he'd be there as a head coach. Quinn's name was connected to a couple of jobs and he interviewed with Minnesota and Cleveland.

“It was cool to go through the process,” he said. “I interviewed during the bye week before the playoffs and I had a chance to follow up on one of them. But I didn't want to take away from getting our team ready.

“And I wouldn't trade a world championship for anything.”

His stint at Florida was a short one, but Quinn belongs on the list of the great defensive coordinators in UF history. Charlie Strong, Bobby Stoops, they went on to bigger and better things as well.

Quinn will be a hot item when the next wave of openings comes around in the NFL. Which should be about December.

But that's a long way off. On Wednesday, so was everything else. Somewhere on the island, there was a luau with Quinn's name on it.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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