Phil Sears-US PRESSWIRE
Florida's Dan Quinn has an NFL past. He might have an NFL future, too.
Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has been repeatedly linked to job openings since last fall: First it was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator job, then the Florida International head coaching job, and then DC positions with Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles. But now, with the departure of Gus Bradley from Seattle for Jacksonville, there is a "strong possibility" Quinn will return to Seattle as the Seahawks' defensive coordinator, reports ESPN's Adam Schefter.
There is a "strong possibility" Florida DC Dan Quinn will return to Seattle to replace Gus Bradley as DC, though CLEV and PHIL interested.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 17, 2013
And that's the one Florida fans should be worried about.
Quinn has been a very effective defensive coordinator and defensive line expert for the Gators, helping Will Muschamp forge two top-10 defenses in two years and revamping a defensive line that was stocked with talented players into a unit that controlled the line of scrimmage masterfully. Quinn isn't Florida's defensive line coach — that's Bryant Young, ostensibly — but he's believed to work extensively with at least Florida's defensive ends, who showed tremendous improvement from 2010 to 2011 and 2012, and the credit for Dante Fowler Jr. and Jonathan Bullard playing very well for Florida as true freshman is due at least partly to Quinn.
But while Quinn's got the brains and savvy to be an NFL defensive coordinator — and, likely, an NFL head coach — someday, none of the previous options for him to make the leap made sense. Bradley leaving Seattle opens up two: Either Quinn could return to Seattle and rejoin Pete Carroll's staff, which he served on in 2009 and 2010 as defensive line coach, taking Bradley's place as defensive coordinator, or he could follow Bradley to his next destination as a defensive coordinator and first lieutenant.
Either way, Quinn is someone that the NFL will covet for as long as his defenses remain excellent, and is ultimately destined for somewhere other than Florida: It makes no sense for Quinn to stay as Muschamp's right-hand man forever.
I suspect Florida will fight hard to keep Quinn, doing whatever is in its power to convince him to stay, but a move to a defensive coordinator position in the NFL is undeniably a promotion, even for a guy who could win a national championship soon, and might prove irresistible.
If Quinn does leave, look for speculation around Florida's next defensive coordinator to center on linebackers coach/special teams coordinator/recruiting dynamo D.J. Durkin.