Resilient football teams love to be known for their "next man up” philosophy.
The Dallas Cowboys had a "next coach up" when defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who was leaving AT&T Stadium on Aug. 21 for quarantine, left the stadium just 90 minutes before kickoff. Quinn called his wife instead of calling the defense during the Houston Texans dress rehearsal. He was calling her to get him home.
Next coach up.
Joe Whitt Jr., secondary coach, stepped in to fill the role of defensive play-caller. It was rational on many fronts. Quinn was Whitt's secondary coach, and Whitt was the passing game coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons. Whitt was also a press box assistant to Quinn, which is his favorite place to call games.
It didn't have to be logical, but it wasn't easy.
Quinn stated, "We have a saying we use some with play callers or signals callers, the linebackers, and safeties: When in charge, be the boss." He was a great leader and did a fantastic job of doing it the right way.
Mike McCarthy, coach, said that Whitt was filling in for Quinn because it was a "good chance for him"
McCarthy said McCarthy: "I have seen him grow from quality control to being a passing coordinator." McCarthy said, "This is a great opportunity for him in small amounts."
Quinn, who was able to watch the game at home, said that Whitt was "decisive" and "strong".
Quinn said, "I thought defensively following our first drive we settled down. We also played excellent third down defense." So I was very proud of the defense staff, especially Joe, who just on short notice said, "Hey man! You're going to take these keys and run with them!"
The Cowboys fell 20-14. However, Dallas quarterback Ben DiNucci threw a pick-six. The defense held the Texans down to 13 points and 0-10 for third down.
Whitt was also a major part of the defensive meetings during Quinn's quarantine. It brings back memories for Quinn of his time as a defensive line coach with the New York Jets in 2007-08, and he also had the opportunity to call defense under coach Eric Mangini.
Quinn stated, "At that point I was so excited that I could do that, that the he entrusted me to do that and to go through that process," Quinn added. "I still remember that moment."
Whitt will get another chance to coordinate Cowboys' defense against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Sunday's preseason finale at AT&T Stadium. As the clock ticks down towards the regular season, Quinn should be ready to go.