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How has Kliff Kingsbury stacked up against Dan Quinn?

Atlanta Falcons v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

In his introductory press conference today, Washington head coach Dan Quinn fielded a number of questions, for nearly an hour. One response, in particular, caught my attention though. He was asked why he chose Kliff Kingsbury as his offensive coordinator. His full response in in the tweet below, but I’ve transcribed the key details below that.

“Kliff has always been somebody I’ve kept up with. Years ago, we coached in college, and we first met each other at an awards show, and we hit it off on that time. Then we competed against each other and I certainly followed his career, for the first time at [Texas] Tech, and then in Arizona, competing.

In the same way, why I wanted to hire Kyle [Shanahan] years ago, he was hard to go against. He wanted to stretch the field horizontally and vertically, and going against Kliff, those same feelings, you had. This is going to be tough, the match-ups, the [inaudible], the speed. Shots down the field, his boldness to go. As a coach, you were writing down some names - this is something in the future - “if I get that shot, this is somebody I want to talk with.”

That left me curious: How had Kingsbury and Quinn performed when they matched up in the past? Kingsbury coached the Cardinals for four years, from 2019 to 2022. Quinn coached the Falcons from 2015 to 2020 and then was the DC for the Cowboys from 2021 through 2023.

In that time, their teams played twice. Kingsbury won both times.

Match-up 1: October 13, 2019 - Cardinals beat Falcons 34-33

In week 6 of the 2019 season, Kingsbury and Kyler Murray absolutely roasted Quinn’s Falcons, though neither defense was particularly good. Murray’s stat line was as follows:

  • 27 for 37, 340 yards, 3 TDs through the air.
  • 11 rushing attempts for 32 yards on the ground.

Atlanta had a slight advantage in time of possession, 32 minutes to 28 minutes, but Arizona didn’t need the extra time. The Falcons nearly tied the game at the end of regulation, but Matt Bryant missed an extra point, sealing their fate.

This season the Cardinals would finish 5-10-1, and the Falcons would finish 7-9.

Advantage: Kingsbury, though his defense didn’t look very good. Unfortunately, Quinn’s looked worse.

Match-up 2: January 2, 2022 - Cardinals beat Cowboys 25-22

In a battle of two much better teams, this time with Quinn as a DC, rather than a head coach, the defenses would each perform better. Kingsbury would win again, but Murray would be held in check a bit, with the following stat line:

  • 26 for 38, 263 yards, 2 TDs through the air.
  • 9 rushing attempts for 44 yards on the ground.

As in their prior meeting, Quinn’s team would make a run at the end but come up short.

The Cardinals would finish the season 11-6 and the Cowboys would finish 12-5.

Advantage: Kingsbury.


Does any of this mean anything particularly special? Probably not, but the two men definitely do know one another from clashing on the gridiron, and with Kingsbury getting the better of Quinn each time. It’s interesting, and somewhat endearing, that Quinn also kept records of the people he might like to add to his team if he got another shot.

In the spirit of iron sharpening iron, perhaps they can continue to learn from, and refine one another’s skillset.


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