Hiring in the NFL has been a pretty simple equation. If you check one of the following boxes, you’ll probably get an interview. If you check two or more, you’ll probably get a promotion.
- Are you a coordinator of one of the league’s best current units?
- Do you have any former ties to the organization?
- Are you a family member of a former coach?
I’m being sarcastic, of course, as there’s a lot more that goes into hiring decision (even if it doesn’t always feel that way). But one coaching candidate that Cowboys Nation hasn’t discussed much checks the most important of those three boxes: Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale.
Martindale’s defense is fourth in DVOA this season, and has been the polar opposite of the unit we have in Dallas. Where the Cowboys sit back and “do what they do,” the Ravens attack from all three levels of the defense. They are blitzing at a historical rate, more than 50% of the time (!), and have found great success doing so.
There’s no question Don Martindale is an excellent defensive coordinator, but is he a legitimate head coaching candidate?
ESPN’s Mina Kimes thinks so. Mina suggested this via Twitter, stating that the Cowboys should hire Martindale to fix the defense, while keeping offensive coordinator Kellen Moore with the team to continue to grow as a play-caller. It’s certainly not a bad idea at all, but it wouldn’t be my first choice.
The Cowboys should be able to find an established head coach, one that has done some serious winning in the past and knows how to be the CEO of a football team. Martindale is a tremendous coordinator, but do we really want to be patient with a coordinator as they grow into a head coach? This was the approach with Jason Garrett, and it hasn’t gotten the Cowboys much over the last decade.
With the current roster and Jerry Jones’ timeline for winning a title, going with someone like Mike McCarthy might end up being a better hire, although he wouldn’t likely inspire much excitement among Cowboys fans. Even a Lincoln Riley would be an “option A” hire, as he’s been a successful head coach at the college level, and he brings a schematic offensive advantage with him.
The big mythical fish, of course, remains Bill Belichick. But that feels like a pipe dream.
Martindale would be a nice hire, but the Cowboys need to swing for the fences first this offseason before going with a coordinator promotion.