ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons’ long wait for new leadership on the field finally ended Monday when Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was named the team’s coach.
The Falcons said Quinn will be introduced at a news conference on Tuesday. Quinn replaces Mike Smith, who was fired following a 6-10 finish in 2014.
The team did not release details of the deal, but a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press earlier Monday that Quinn agreed to a five-year contract.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank said he was impressed by Quinn’s “definitive plan for our football team and what it will take to win on a consistent basis.”
“He also has a proven ability to develop players by maximizing their individual strengths,” Blank said.
The Falcons exercised patience while waiting for Quinn, who could not be offered a job until after Seattle’s 28-24 Super Bowl loss Sunday night to the New England Patriots.
“This felt like the right fit from the beginning, and I want to thank Mr. Blank for his resolve as this was an extended and complicated process,” Quinn said in a statement released by the team. “My goal is to build upon the foundation that has been laid here and to play a physical brand of football as we build a championship caliber team.”
Quinn, 44, helped Seattle reach back-to-back Super Bowls. Seattle beat Denver in last year’s championship.
His strong record in his two years with Seattle won over the Falcons, who have struggled on defense while finishing a combined 10-22 the past two seasons. The Falcons allowed the most total yards and yards passing in the league this season.
The Seahawks led the NFL in scoring defense, total defense and takeaways while winning the Super Bowl last season. Quinn’s defense shined in the Super Bowl win over Peyton Manning and the Broncos. He previously was defensive line coach for the Seahawks, 49ers, Dolphins and Jets.
Seattle ranked sixth in total defense this season.
Quinn followed Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin as the second candidate to have a follow-up interview with the Falcons.
Quinn’s second interview came in the bye week following the AFC championship game. Blank on Monday thanked Seattle coach Pete Carroll for granting Quinn permission for the follow-up meeting with the Falcons.
“I would like to personally thank Seahawks coach Pete Carroll for his patience and support during our head coach search,” Blank said. “I’m sure the Seahawks will be sorry to see Dan leave, but no one has been more supportive of this opportunity for Dan than Pete.”
Carroll recently described Quinn as “a great communicator” and “a fantastic teacher. He’s got a real toughness about him - innovative.”
Carroll said Quinn has “tremendous relationships wherever he’s been around the league. He’s been a guy that wherever he goes people rave about. We feel the same way.”
While the Falcons waited to complete their interview process with Quinn, other candidates, including Rex Ryan, were hired by other teams. Ryan, the former Jets coach, had one interview with Atlanta before accepting a job as Buffalo’s coach.
Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles called off a second interview with Atlanta to become the Jets’ coach.
The Falcons also interviewed New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, former Bills coach Doug Marrone and Atlanta special teams coach Keith Armstrong.
Quinn was the University of Florida’s defensive coordinator in 2011-12 before taking over the Seahawks’ defense.
Quinn, a native of Morristown, New Jersey, was a defensive lineman at and two-time co-captain at Division III Salisbury State in Maryland. He was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2005.
Smith had a 66-46 regular-season record in seven seasons, including two NFC South titles. He had winning seasons in each of his first five years with the team — bringing instant relevance to a franchise which previously had never enjoyed back-to-back winning seasons.
The Falcons won only one of five playoff games under Smith.