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Dan Quinn returns to Seattle, the place that launched his head coaching career

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It’s a homecoming for Atlanta’s head coach.

Atlanta Falcons v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Before Dan Quinn was the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, the team he currently holds a 12-9 record for, he was the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks. The Seattle defense was pretty good while he was there, and now he’ll get to face that defense on the other sideline for the first time.

Quinn wound up winning the Atlanta gig thanks to a combination of his coaching philosophy, ability to connect with players, and his defense’s acumen in Seattle, but the latter was probably the single most attractive piece for a team that has struggled on defense for a long time. Quinn’s Seahawks were #1 virtually across the board defensively in 2013 and ranked very well in 2014, too, and while he clearly had access to superior talent, that doesn’t really happen by accident.

You can see how Quinn’s time in Seattle has influenced the way he has built this defense, with several players fitting the “types” he had with the Seahawks (i.e. Keanu Neal as his new Kam Chancellor), and the entire defense being built around speed and physicality above all else. The Falcons’ defense resembles the Seattle defense in the same way that a songbird resembles an osprey, sure, but you can see what Quinn is building toward.

This is a critical game, then, for both Quinn and the Falcons. A loss here certainly won’t submarine the season, given that the Falcons are 4-1 and have shown us all a lot already, but it would certainly lend credence to the idea that the Seahawks are still a superior team, and that Pete Carroll’s Seahawks are the class of the NFC alongside the Minnesota Vikings. A win here gives Quinn the satisfaction of beating his old team and absolutely cements this team’s status as an NFC contender.

Quinn is already far more successful than Gus Bradley, his predecessor in Seattle and the current head coach of the still-moribund Jacksonville Jaguars. A win against the Seahawks would further legitimize this Falcons team, and it would also feel pretty sweet for Quinn, a man who knows firsthand just how good Seattle is.