It seems like every few minutes there’s a new report about the Dallas Cowboys and their coaching staff. You can’t even tell that the NFL playoffs are underway with all the hoopla surrounding America’s Team.
This first domino to fall came Monday morning when the Cowboys named former Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy the organization’s ninth head coach. McCarthy enjoyed plenty of success during his 13 years (2006-2018) with the Packers compiling a 125-77-2 regular-season record, 10-8 in the postseason, with two of those wins ironically coming against the Cowboys (2014, 2016). His crowning achievement came in 2010 when he led the Packers to a 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, in AT&T Stadium, the home of his new team.
McCarthy didn’t waste any time trying to put together a staff to guide the Cowboys back to prominence. Just hours after he became the head man in Dallas, he would bring in Mike Nolan to be the team’s new defensive coordinator.
Nolan’s experience as a coach in the NFL dates back to 1987 when he was the special team’s coach for the Denver Broncos. He spent time as the defensive coordinator with the New York Giants (1993-1996), Washington Redskins (1997-1999), New York Jets (2000), Baltimore Ravens (2002-2004), Denver Broncos (2009), Miami Dolphins (2010-2011), and most recently the Atlanta Falcons (2012-2014). He also spent four years as the San Francisco 49ers head coach (2005-2008).
Nolan has plenty of experience coaching linebackers as well. He was the linebacker coach for the San Diego Chargers (2015) and most recently the New Orleans Saints (2017-2019). During his days in San Francisco, he groomed retired linebacker Patrick Willis into an All-Pro. Also, in 2019 he produced another All-Pro at linebacker in Demario Davis. Now, he gets to work with Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch.
It will interesting to see if he’ll run the 3-4 defensive scheme, which has been the defense he’s primarily run, or the 4-3 scheme which is the Cowboys base defense. Regardless of which direction he goes, the Cowboys now have a new guy guiding the ship on the defensive side of the ball.
Yesterday, another piece to the coaching puzzle was put together when McCarthy brought in John Fassel to be the team’s special teams coordinator.
Fassel began his NFL coaching career as an assistant to the Baltimore Ravens special teams (2005-2007). He was also the special team’s coordinator for the Oakland Raiders (2008-2011) and most recently the Los Angeles Rams (2012-2019). During his days with the Rams, Fassel had 15 players named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week under his leadership. Now, he’ll look to turn around a Cowboys unit that was one of the league’s worst in 2019.
Probably the biggest question mark is rather McCarthy will retain Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore. He has expressed he would like to bring Moore back as the OC. However, Moore has an offer to be the offensive coordinator for the Washington Huskies in the college ranks.
The first-year play-caller had a successful 2019 season besides some situational mishaps, which are expected when it’s your first crack at the job. He produced the number one offense this season which included the league’s second-leading passer, fourth-leading rusher, and two 1,000 yard receivers. Having said all this, it’s no surprise McCarthy would want Moore as a part of this revamped coaching staff.
There’s another name swirling around the Cowboys as a possible addition to this staff and that’s current Washington Redskins Defensive Line Coach Jim Tomsula. His coaching experience goes back to 1989 when he was the strength and conditioning coach for Catawba College. Tomsula was an assistant for several years in NFL Europe. He was the defensive line coach for the England Monarchs in 1998 and for the Scottish Claymores from 1999 to 2003. In 2004, he became the defensive coordinator for the Berlin Thunder, a position he held through 2005. Also, he was the head coach of the Rhein Fire in 2006.
In 2007, Tomsula became the defensive line coach for the San Francisco 49ers, a position he held until 2014. In 2010, he was the interim head coach for the season finale after Mike Singletary was relieved of his duties. He also has a year of head coaching experience when he went 5-11 for the 49ers in 2015. McCarthy adding Tomsula to coach the defensive line would be a very nice addition to this staff.
Jon Kitna, Marc Colombo, Sanjay Lal, and Gary Brown have yet to meet with McCarthy regarding their future with the organization. Defensive Backs Coach and Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard was interviewed for the New York Giants head coaching vacancy before it was filled yesterday by former New England Patriots assistant coach Joe Judge. The team would like to retain him in the same role going forward, but only time will tell how that plays out.
It’s only been two days but Mike McCarthy is already making his presence felt. There are still a few more pieces to put in place, but one thing is for certain, McCarthy is doing everything he can to make this coaching staff one of the NFL’s best.