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Quinn returning to lead defense as Cowboys shuffle coaches

(AP Photo/Brett Duke)

By SCHUYLER DIXON

AP Pro Football Writer

FRISCO, Texas (AP) A shuffling of the coaching staff for the Dallas Cowboys won't include defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who is returning after another year of receiving interest from teams seeking head coaches.

Coach Mike McCarthy said the club's decision not to renew the contracts of six members of his staff, including one with deep ties to him in Green Bay, hasn't affected his relationship with owner/general manager Jerry Jones or the rest of the Dallas front office.

The Cowboys, who finished 13-6, reached the playoffs for a second consecutive season and won a road game in the postseason for the first time in 30 years.

Still, Dallas' divisional-round losing streak reached seven games, the longest since the 1970 merger, with a 19-12 loss at San Francisco. The Cowboys haven't advanced to an NFC championship game since the last of the franchise's five Super Bowl titles to cap the 1995 season.

"As far as my relationship with Jerry, just using his words, we're in an excellent spot," McCarthy said Thursday, a few hours after the club's announcement on the coaches who aren't returning.

"The partnership that we have, he's excited about. He told me a number of times this week that he wants me to coach here as long as coach (Tom) Landry did. And I said, `OK, that's a long time.'"

Jones' first act as owner in 1989 was firing Landry, coach of the Cowboys for the franchise's first 29 seasons. There's been chatter about McCarthy's job security since a losing debut in the pandemic-altered 2020 season.

Jones said the loss to the 49ers didn't change his outlook with McCarthy, who has always shrugged off talk to the contrary.

"I get to talk to Jerry a lot," McCarthy said. "So I've never, I've never felt that. The narrative was externally generated."

Quinn, who interviewed with Denver, Arizona and Indianapolis, told McCarthy on Thursday he would be back for a third season with the Cowboys. Quinn, who led Atlanta to a Super Bowl as coach, made the same decision after interviewing for jobs last year.

Dallas was the first team since the "Steel Curtain" era of the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1972-74 to lead the NFL in takeaways in consecutive years.

"This is big for us," McCarthy said. "Gives us continuity with what we accomplished the last two years and build off of that. And just frankly on a personal note, I can't tell you how thankful I am."

The future of offensive coordinator Kellen Moore seems less certain. Moore interviewed for the head coaching job with the Panthers, who hired Frank Reich on Thursday.

McCarthy wouldn't answer a question about whether Moore would be the play-caller in 2023 if he weren't hired as a head coach elsewhere.

The mostly productive Dallas offense sputtered in each of the playoff losses the past two seasons.

"I really don't want to play this game today," McCarthy said. "Kellen Moore, just like the rest of the coaches, will be evaluated. The evaluation, it takes more than one day."

The coaches who won't be back include assistant head coach Rob Davis, who spent 10 seasons on McCarthy's Green Bay staff after finishing his career as the Packers' long snapper, and senior defensive assistant George Edwards.

The others are offensive line coach and former Miami head coach Joe Philbin, running backs coach Skip Peete, assistant defensive line coach Leon Lett and quality control analyst Kyle Valero.

Edwards was a senior defensive assistant who took a leading role with the linebackers and was praised on Twitter by two-time All-Pro pass rusher Micah Parsons.

Edwards joined the Cowboys when McCarthy was hired in 2020, as did Philbin and Peete. It was Peete's second stint as Dallas' running backs coach.

Lett, a two-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman who played on all three Super Bowl-winning Dallas teams in the 1990s, just finished his 12th season on the staff. Valero had been with the Cowboys since 2014.

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Updated January 26, 2023

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