Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn walks on the field as...

Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn walks on the field as his players stretch before the team's practice. (Jan. 15, 2014) Credit: AP

NEWARK -- The Seahawks defense has been described as "old-school." What few people know is that the old school is actually Hofstra.

That's where Dan Quinn coached for five years in the late 1990s, serving four as defensive line coach and one as defensive coordinator. It was the first time in his career that he oversaw the development of game plans and called plays from the sideline. And it helped prepare him for the task he faces this week as Seattle's defensive coordinator: stopping the unstoppable Peyton Manning.

"It was an absolutely amazing time for me," Quinn said of his years at Hofstra. "It was one of the most awesome places to come up as a young coach."

Quinn said that was due to the guidance of the late Joe Gardi, the longtime head coach at Hofstra who had spent time as a defensive coordinator with the Jets earlier in his career. He was the coach behind the Sack Exchange of Joe Klecko, Marty Lyons and Mark Gastineau.

But what Gardi did at Hofstra is what resonates with Quinn today.

Much like the Pride, which developed overlooked players such as Wayne Chrebet and Marques Colston, the Seahawks have put together a roster filled with hungry late-round picks and undrafted players who feel they have not been given enough respect.

"We had that underdog mentality and a chip on your shoulder to see how hard you could play," Quinn said of his time at Hofstra. "Anytime you can get a group of guys who feel like they have something to prove and play in that fashion, that takes me back to that time at Hofstra. I think it's a great analogy [to Seattle]."

Hofstra wasn't only a hotbed for players. The coaching staff they had during their successful run in the 1990s and early 2000s has gone on to find success and Quinn is not the only one who landed in the NFL. Raheem Morris was a head coach with the Bucs and most recently a defensive backs coach for the Redskins. He was on that staff. So was Joe Woods, the defensive backs coach for the Vikings until that coaching staff was replaced this offseason (a head-coaching job for which Quinn interviewed). On the offensive side, Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood and Delaware head coach Dave Brock were at Hofstra during that time frame.

"There were some really good coaches on that staff," Quinn said. "It was a really fun group to be a part of and Joe was kind of the orchestrator of it all."

Gardi was just one of the influences on Quinn, who has bounced around between college and the NFL. He's worked under just about every type of head coach there is, from Steve Mariucci and Pete Carroll to Eric Mangini and George Seifert.

"There are a lot of different ways to do it," Quinn said. "Each guy has their own thing that makes them unique and makes them special."

All of those stops, he said, taught him something about himself and about coaching. But it is under Carroll, he said, that he really believes he is being groomed for the next step.

"He really coaches us as coaches," Quinn said. "He's always challenging us. 'What would you call here? How would you do this?' He helps us quite a bit."

This was Quinn's first time going through interviews for NFL head-coaching jobs (besides the Vikings opening, he interviewed in Cleveland). He said if and when he gets one of those coveted 32 positions, he'll look back on all of his experiences.

"The thing I've learned through watching other coaches is be yourself," he said. "That's what I've tried to do. But when you get little pieces of things from people, I think that's important."

Wherever Quinn goes -- to the winner's circle on Sunday night or a new job in the future as the head of a college or NFL team -- he'll be taking a little piece of Hofstra with him.