Approach the Commanders' formidable new coaching staff with caution

Having big names does not guarantee success...

Dan Quinn
Dan Quinn / Jess Rapfogel/GettyImages
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Washington Commanders head coach Dan Quinn has put together an eye-catching staff. This comes with a warning attached.

There is clear ambition and purpose to the Washington Commanders' moves throughout a frantic offseason so far. This was a team in desperate need of a major overhaul from top to bottom. Josh Harris' ownership group has provided the resources to attract the best. Something they believe can speed up what is a substantial rebuilding process.

Dan Quinn is the new head coach. He's used his connections around the NFL to acquire some notable hires to work under him in 2024. There is a nice blend of youth and experience. There are Super Bowl rings aplenty. One could make a case for some becoming head coaches themselves soon.

This has added an extra sense of optimism among the fanbase. Even so, let me offer a cautionary tale that bears relevance to this particular situation unfolding in the nation's capital.

Commanders must mesh their coaching staff under Dan Quinn

As some of you are aware, I also cover the Carolina Panthers. A team tabbed as the league's laughingstock with the worst record. They are also suffering the embarrassment of handing over the No. 1 overall selection in the 2024 NFL Draft for good measure.

It's bleak. But it wasn't the case this time last year.

After the Panthers hired Frank Reich - a retread head coach with vast experience - they set about molding the best coaching staff possible. Erratic billionaire owner David Tepper spared no expense. After all, there is no salary cap when it comes to coaches.

Thomas Brown, Jim Caldwell, Josh McCown, Duce Staley, and Shawn Jefferson were hired on the offensive side among others. Offensive line coach James Campen was also retained after an outstanding first season in Carolina.

The Panthers acquired Ejiro Evero to run the defense. He was ably assisted by Dom Capers. Other progressive individuals such as Jonathan Cooley and former Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall also joined the ranks. Chris Tabor was another retention as Carolina's special teams coordinator.

This was perceived as an all-star coaching staff. One that received envious glances around the league. It also left those in power convinced they were ready to drop in a quarterback and take off.

How wrong they were.

The group didn't mesh well. At all. There were too many voices in Bryce Young's ear. There was reported conflict within the building about who Carolina should have taken at No. 1. The offense lacked inspiration. Reich cut a forlorn figure from a long way out. He was fired after just 11 games.

Evero's defensive staff was a different story. They held everything together despite countless key injuries. Almost everyone has been retained under new head coach Dave Canales as a result.

If Quinn wants to avoid a similar fate with the Commanders, he must have everyone on the same page. Big names mean nothing if there isn't a common ethos already in place. Even when times are tough - which they will be on occasion - keeping the long-term goal in mind and avoiding any personal agenda-pushing is paramount.

Adam Peters wants an aligned vision for the Commanders. This has no doubt been relaid to those Quinn's chosen for his staff and others familiar with the organization who've been fortunate enough to stay on board. It must be implemented with supreme efficiency in pursuit of immediate growth.

The last thing Quinn or the Commanders need is another Panthers' situation on their hands. Hopefully, the correct appointments have been made and Washington can begin an exciting new era on the front foot.

The big-time staff is a movie I've seen before. The ending was horrible. Let's hope for better luck where the Commanders are concerned.

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