Was Commanders opening a poisoned chalice for young coordinators?

History provides some clues...

Dan Quinn
Dan Quinn / Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

History suggests the Washington Commanders' head coaching vacancy could have been seen as a poisoned chalice by young coordinators.

With the hiring of Dan Quinn, the Washington Commanders became the last team to fill their head coach position this year. After a quarter of the league changed leadership on the sidelines, Mike Vrabel and Bill Belichick were left without a seat in the NFL game of musical chairs.

Now, is there anything more Washington than going from a shoo-in for the hottest offensive coordinator candidate to getting a retread? What is that Batman quote, he "might not be the hero we want, but he is the hero we deserve?" Not sure if that's it, but let's move on.

In all seriousness, just because Quinn isn't the sexy choice, doesn't mean he is an unworthy candidate. He is well-respected around the league and led his team to the Super Bowl, albeit allowing an opponent to come back from being down 28-3 in the fourth quarter.

Commanders had history against them during head coach search

However, Quinn gets the opportunity to join the list of head coaches who made the most of their second and sometimes third chances.

Wade Phillips was 48-39 in various stops as a head coach before going back to serving as a defensive coordinator in between stops. Then, finally, with the Dallas Cowboys, he went 34-22, leading the team to three winning campaigns, including a 13-3 finish in his first year. Three winning seasons in a row would be a breath of fresh air for any Commanders fan.

Belichick went 36-44 with the Cleveland Browns before returning to coach on the defensive side of the ball. He got a second chance with the New England Patriots - the rest is history.

He went 266-121 in his time in New England with six Super Bowl wins. If Quinn can fall somewhere between those two coaches, it will be a resounding success.

But how did we get here? Why did Ben Johnson and Bobby Slowik decide to remain with the Detroit Lions and Houston Texans respectively instead of coming to Washington?

Well, history might provide some clues.

Since 2012, there have been six ownership changes in the NFL. The Jacksonville Jaguars, Browns, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, and Denver Broncos all got bought out before the Commanders did last year.

What transpired in the majority of those situations might explain why no young coordinator wanted to take the Commanders job.

Josh Harris / Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

In 2012, both the Jaguars and Browns changed ownership. In the 2011 season, Jacksonville finished 5-11, firing Jack Del Rio (remember him) in-season and replacing him with Mel Tucker.

New Jaguars owner Shahid Khan hired Mike Mularkey - who had been Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator - to a three-year deal as head coach. He went 2-14 in 2012, tied for the worst record in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs. He was subsequently fired after his first season.

As an aside, the Chiefs hired Andy Reid after that 2-14 season - look at how far they've come since then. Just goes to show how big of an impact a solid head coach can make.

Jimmy Haslam took over the Browns in October 2012 and the team finished 5-11. As his first head coaching hire, he brought in Rob Chudzinski. He had been the Panthers' offensive coordinator previously and worked wonders with a young Cam Newton. In his first year, he went 4-12 and was relieved of his duties, never getting another head coaching opportunity.

In 2014, Terry and Kim Pegula took over ownership of the Bills. The team finished a respectable 9-7 that year, but Doug Marrone took a buyout to leave as head coach. The new ownership brought in Rex Ryan. He did make it more than one season, going 8-8 his first year, before being fired in Year 2 after leading the team to a 7-8 record.

David Tepper took over ownership of the Panthers in July 2018. The team finished 7-9 and the following year, Ron Rivera was fired after a 5-7 start. As his first head coaching hire, the hedge fund manager brought in Matt Rhule from Baylor on a seven-year deal worth $62 million. He went 5-11, then 5-12, and 1-4 in his third year before getting canned. Carolina has been stuck in coaching purgatory since then.

The Broncos scenario is a bit unique. Nathaniel Hackett was hired before the Walton-Penner ownership group took over. Ironically enough, Quinn was a finalist for the role.

As the former offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers, it was expected that he would elevate the offense. However, the Broncos only averaged 15.5 points per game and finished dead last in scoring offense. Hackett was fired after going 4-11.

Five different ownership changes. Five different failures with the first head coach. Those aren't great odds and might factor into why a young offensive coordinator didn't want to take over a Commanders team that finished 4-13.

Yes, having the No. 2 overall pick and plenty of cap room might be attractive to a general manager. It is less attractive to a new coach who knows the front office leader will get a longer leash than they ultimately would.

Quinn might not be the coach that fans wanted, but he might have been one of the only candidates brave enough to risk taking the role, given the historical context. That alone should speak to his character, which is a good starting point to build from.