RENTON, Wash. – In late August of 2010, Dan Quinn made a significant impression on Earl Thomas.
Thomas was a rookie out of Texas, coming from a place he felt everybody was in his corner even when he wasn’t perfect.
No such coddling exists in the NFL. It’s do a good job or be out of one. So, when Quinn went up to Thomas and told him he played an excellent game that preseason, it stuck.
“Those was one of the first coaches to give me those encouraging words,” Thomas said. “I wasn’t used to that.”
It’s one of the first things that popped into the safety’s head when the Seahawks hired Quinn to replace Gus Bradley at defensive coordinator just six hours after Bradley was announced as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ new head coach in January.
Thirteen games into his first season as Seahawks defensive coordinator, Quinn is the head of the NFL’s No. 1 defense. That’s a rapid way to gain trust among the players and from his boss.
“He had a lot to measure up to because Gus Bradley had done a fine job for us, as well,” head coach Pete Carroll said. “At this late part of the year we are kind of what we are. We’re keeping the points down and we’re pretty tough to throw the ball at, so I’m really fired up and he’s doing a great job.”
Quinn was one of two assistants retained when Carroll took over for Jim Mora in 2010. The other was Bradley. Quinn left the Seahawks to become the defensive coordinator for the University of Florida, before being summoned back for the job he almost had in his first stint with the Seahawks.
Bradley’s departure was disappointing to Thomas, who was close with the coordinator. Bradley even gave Thomas his nickname “Deuce.”
Thomas wondered who would replace Bradley and what they would do with him schematically.
“Different coordinators come in with different thoughts,” Thomas said. “They can move you around and take you out of position.”
Strong safety Kam Chancellor said he would be on board with any new scheme or coordinator, but was pleased when he read online that Quinn would be his new coach.
Part of Chancellor’s happiness stemmed from Quinn’s approach. There’s an immediate term that Thomas and Chancellor use when talking about the 43-year-old’s style: aggressive.
“I like his style because it fits with us. It definitely fits with me,” Thomas said. “It’s a very aggressive style and when you have aggressive players that kind of know what the D-coordinator is thinking and the scheme and what he wants to do out there, it really helps you play fast.”
The Seahawks’ secondary can be a finicky group. It’s still upset Bradley chose to play zone at the end of last season’s playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons.
But, Quinn has provided them pleasure and relief. His preference for man-to-man coverage is in line with theirs, plus working with him in the past provided them a baseline.
“He communicates with us well,” Chancellor said. “We can tell him what we want to play sometimes and he’ll go along with it. I think we have a good relationship.”
Center Max Unger and tight end Zach Miller are both probable for the Seahawks on Sunday against the New York Giants and Percy Harvin’s recovery continues to be slow.
Unger and Miller were both listed as probable on Friday’s injury report. Unger has a pectoral injury that limited him earlier in the week. Miller missed two days of practice with a rib injury.
Also probable are Richard Sherman (foot), Marshawn Lynch (shoulder) and Doug Baldwin (neck). Brandon Browner (groin), K.J. Wright (foot) and Harvin are out.
Carroll said that Harvin has been unable to overcome the lingering soreness in his hip following his season debut in Week 11 against Minnesota.
“It’s looking like it’s going to be a bit before we get it right,” Carroll said.