RENTON, Wash. (AP) - Almost every day during training camp and often during the season, Dan Quinn would put on large padded gloves and essentially go through a sparring session with the Seattle Seahawks defensive linemen as they warmed up for practice working on pass rushing techniques.
Once Quinn got into the position of being a defensive coordinator - after years of working as a position coach - he was not going to become someone who watched and coached from afar.
"This is a people business. We love the Xs and Os but the Jimmys and the Joes are what make this thing go," Seattle defensive backs coach Kris Richard said. "His ability to capture people and make them feel exactly what they are. You have worth. You have value. So he values you, which is awesome."
Quinn's name has been the most talked about in coaching circles since the end of the regular season because of the job he's done as Seattle's defensive coordinator the past two seasons. All signs point to Quinn becoming the next head coach in Atlanta after having a second interview with the Falcons the day after the NFC championship victory over Green Bay.
When asked about the second interview Falcons this week, Quinn said he appreciated all the opportunities he's had and then channeled his own version of Marshawn Lynch.
"Thanks for asking," he said with a grin.
But before anything can be formalized in Atlanta, Quinn's task at hand is preparing Seattle to try and slow down Tom Brady and New England in the Super Bowl next Sunday.
Ask around and you see why Quinn has become so appreciated in Seattle and why so many teams were eager to talk with him each of the past two years. Players and colleagues speak of his personality and work ethic. Quinn is not a screamer, but a teacher that no one wants to let down.
It's why Seattle's defense has been so successful. It's built on being physical and tough, but also the accountability that everyone is going to do their assignment. That directive starts with Pete Carroll, but gets passed through his coaches, like Quinn.
"It's a communication thing," Seattle middle linebacker Bobby Wagner explained. "It's not, 'You have to be here.' It's more, 'Why were you here? This is what I feel. What do you feel?' and there is a middle ground. Versus maybe somebody just saying, 'This is what I want,' and there is no ifs ands or buts about it. It's a communication (factor), it's a trust factor and a belief factor."
What Quinn has helped create is record setting. Seattle was one of three defenses in league history to lead the NFL in scoring defense in three straight seasons. They were the first team since the Chicago Bears in 1985-86 to lead the league in total defense and scoring defense in consecutive seasons. The numbers Seattle has posted lend credence to the argument the Seahawks are among the best of this generation.
"He stayed true to who he is. That's what's helped him be successful," said former Seattle defensive coordinator and current Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley. "That's what he'll do, I'm sure, if he gets an opportunity to be a head coach."
To that end, Quinn's arrival in Seattle brought a different level of defensive aggressiveness. While Bradley was revered by his players, he was sometimes thought to be too passive. Some of that was situational. Bradley was coaching a defense that included Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Wagner. They were talented and pointed toward success, but still very young.
Quinn believed in that youth as long as there was a high level of accountability. He was willing to let Seattle play a significant amount of man-to-man defense with Thomas the only protection in the back. The rest of Seattle's coverages are simplified. There isn't a lot of disguise and confusion with Seattle's defense. In turn, the Seahawks play faster and are more efficient.
"When he came here after we lost Gus Bradley we didn't have an identity. I think (Quinn) came and gave us an identity," Seattle linebacker Bruce Irvin said. "Respected us as players. Told us this is what we wanted, this is what he expected. Guys go out there and play for him. He's a players' coach. Pete's a players' coach so as long as you respect them and do what you've got to do they'll give you a little leeway."