Dan Quinn's first big hire as the Washington Commanders head coach was to rip former USC Trojans assistant and Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury away from the Las Vegas Raiders. Kingsbury was set to be Antonio Pierce's offensive coordinator in Las Vegas, but for whatever reason, that did not manifest. Quinn's best trait as an NFL head coach is assembling a terrific staff.
During his 5.5 years as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons from 2015 to 2020, Quinn hired so many great assistant coaches, none more so than his initial offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan. Like with Kingsbury, Quinn never worked with Shanahan prior to linking up in Flowery Branch in 2015. He mentioned before that going up against his offenses were very difficult for his team to stop them.
In the seven years since the Super Bowl 51 collapse to the New England Patriots, Shanahan has been seen as the greatest offensive mind the sport has seen. His coaching tree, or the one that stems off his father Mike's staff in Washington, is a who's who across the NFL. Five assistants on that 2013 staff now lead NFL franchises in Shanahan, Matt LaFleur, Mike McDaniel, Sean McVay and Raheem Morris.
Kingsbury has been everywhere, man, since coaching Johnny Football at Texas A&M, so bless up!
Putting that immense kind of pressure on Kingsbury sounds insane, but hear me out on this, aight...
Dan Quinn places immense pressure on Kliff Kingsbury as his new OC
What you have to remember is that Shanahan was not Mr. Perfect coming over to Atlanta. He first made a name for himself as an offensive coordinator in Houston working under Gary Kubiak. Matt Schaub was his starting quarterback. They had a good working relationship, as Schaub tapped into all of his NFL potential coming out of Virginia now with his second team. Then, it got a little bit weird...
Shanahan would go and work on his father Mike's staff in Washington for a few years. Washington was dysfunctional as hell under previous owner Daniel Snyder. While the team had a great first year with Robert Griffin III as the starting quarterback in 2012, it hit the fan for him in 2013. That team was terrible, they went 3-13 and everyone got fired. It was a time when Kirk Cousins began his ascent.
Prior to taking over the Falcons offense in 2015, Shanahan was doing some interesting things in Cleveland with Brian Hoyer as his quarterback. Again, it kind of got lost in the sauce that season, but it was enough to impress Quinn to want him to be his offensive coordinator if and when he got a head-coaching job in that cycle. Quinn was a top candidate across the league heading into 2015.
To me, I think Kingsbury's entry point into Washington is actually better than what Shanahan experienced in Atlanta. The Commanders might stink, but they have a new head coach with previous experience, as well as the No. 2 overall pick. Kingsbury had his moments leading the Cardinals, having worked with a talented top-tier pick in Kyler Murray throughout his entire team coaching with Arizona.
Of the three teams picking inside the top three, Washington is a lock to take a quarterback. Either Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye or Caleb Williams will be starting games for this team Week 1 next year. With Kingsbury taking over the offense for Quinn, my money is on Washington doing whatever it takes to land Williams, who is from the area and played his high school football over at Gonzaga.
Ultimately, it really feels we are about to enter a new, fun and exciting era of Washington football. For the first time in my adult lifetime, the Commanders are not a dead franchise. They are in fact a living, breathing one that has so much optimism towards the future. No matter who they end up drafting, expect Quinn and Kingsbury to be in lock-step over who will be playing quarterback.
Look for Kingsbury to be a top-tier NFL head coaching candidate by 2026 or 2027 at the latest.