The Cowboys are once again looking for a new defensive coordinator after firing Mike Nolan on Friday, along with defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, each after just one season in Dallas.
Unsurprisingly, for a team led by Jerry Jones, who is more enamored with celebrity and spectacle than anything else (except for himself, of course), the potential candidates to lead the Dallas defense in 2021 include a lot of familiar faces.
Calvin Watkins of The Dallas Morning News listed 10 possibilities, and the majority of them — Dom Capers, Dan Quinn, Matt Patricia, Raheem Morris, Gus Bradley, and Marvin Lewis — are former NFL head coaches. Another, George Edwards, has had three previous stops as an NFL defensive coordinator, while James Bettcher has been the defensive coordinator for the Cardinals and Giants. Kris Richard has been part of previous Cowboys staffs, while Joe Whitt Jr. spent a decade working for Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy in Green Bay.
Back in 1989, when Jimmy Johnson became coach of the Cowboys, he brought his defensive coordinator with him from the University of Miami, a fella named Dave Wannstedt, who at the time was a 37-year-old who had zero NFL coaching experience. The 1989 Cowboys also were the first NFL job for Butch Davis, who moved up from defensive line coach to coordinator in 1993, after Wannstedt left. When Davis returned to Miami as head coach, another member of Johnson’s first staff, Dave Campo, moved up to become coordinator, having been a defensive assistant in 1989, his first NFL job, then defensive backs coach for four seasons.
The Cowboys won Super Bowls with Wannstedt, Davis, and Campo leading their defenses. They haven’t been back to one since.
And in the past decade, Dallas’ defensive coordinators have been figures who were well known before they ever put on a polo with a blue star. Paul Pasqualoni was a longtime head coach at Syracuse. Rob Ryan was as well-known a defensive coordinator as there was in the NFL when he got to Dallas after his stints in Oakland and Cleveland. Monte Kiffin was 73 years old having come to fame much earlier as the architect of the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl defense. Rod Marinelli was 65 when he became the DC in Dallas, having been the coach of an 0-16 Lions team six years earlier. And then there was Nolan, who went 18-37 as the coach of the 49ers from 2005-08.
Marinelli is the only one of those coordinators to put the Cowboys in the NFL’s top 10 in both points and yards allowed in the same season, doing so in 2018.
This isn’t to say that former head coaches can’t be successful defensive coordinators in the NFL. The Football Team and the Buccaneers square off on Saturday night with two of the best defenses in the league, directed by Jack Del Rio and Todd Bowles, respectively.
The problem for the Cowboys is that their hiring process, for far too long, has seemingly resembled the Donald Trump approach of seeing someone on television and remembering their name later. It hasn’t worked, it doesn’t work, and it won’t work if that’s the way Dallas continues to do business.
Tacko Fall got 19 minutes for the Celtics on Friday night, bringing his career total to 61 minutes played in the NBA, including playoffs and nearly doubling his previous career high of 10 minutes played, exactly one year ago in a 15-point loss to the Spurs.
Fall did not register a career scoring high, as his four points fell short of the five he scored on Dec. 20, 2019, against the Pistons. But Fall’s eight rebounds and three blocks were new career highs for the 7-5 Senegalese center.
The Celtics were plus-13 with Fall on the court as they sent the Wizards to 2-7 with a 116-107 verdict, nullifying Bradley Beal’s 41-point night.