DALLAS COWBOYS

Dallas Cowboys expected to hire Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator, per reports


Jori Epstein, USA TODAY Published 4:47 p.m. ET Jan. 6, 2020 | Updated 4:51 p.m. ET Jan. 6, 2020

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SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Mike Jones breaks down why Mike McCarthy may be exactly what the Cowboys need in a new head coach. USA TODAY

The Cowboys’ 2020 coaching staff continues to come in to focus.

Hours after Mike McCarthy told NFL Media he had signed a deal with the Cowboys, the former Packers coach now is expected to tap Saints linebacker coach Mike Nolan to become Dallas’ defensive coordinator, according to multiple reports Monday.

The Cowboys had not made any official announcements by mid-Monday afternoon. Owner Jerry Jones released a statement Sunday evening that the team would not renew Jason Garrett’s contract.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has stressed his preference for experienced NFL coaches overseeing what he believes is a roster with the requisite talent to contend for a Super Bowl title. McCarthy hiring Nolan, who led the 49ers from 2005-08, would give the Cowboys at least two former NFL head coaches on staff.

“College coaches have the lowest … percentage rate of success” at head coach in the NFL,” Jones told Dallas radio station 105.3 The Fan in December. “In many cases, they’re not that familiar with the personnel. Now, that’s a big deal because there are coaches that understand almost the practice habit of opposing team. And then it’s particularly understanding of any input that you want from them regarding personnel.

“So, you pay a price for somebody to get up to date that haven’t spent the prior months or years in the NFL.”

McCarthy, 56, served as Packers head coach from 2006-18, winning a Super Bowl at the Cowboys’ stadium in February 2011. He spent 2019 studying league trends with a group of former coaches he assembled. McCarthy was Nolan’s San Francisco offensive coordinator in 2005 before taking the top job with the Packers.

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Since 1993, Nolan also has served as defensive coordinator for the Falcons, Dolphins, Broncos, Ravens, Jets, Redskins and Giants.

Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard coordinated the Cowboys defense in 2019. The unit ranked ninth, allowing 327 yards per game and 11th allowing 20.1 points per contest.  But the defense had a significant issues in securing turnovers. Dallas’ 1.23% interception rate (seven total) ranked 30th in the league. Only five teams had fewer than Dallas’ 17 takeaways. The offense aimed to compensate, racking up a league-high 431.5 yards per game as it started drives on average from its own 26.19, third-worst field position in the league. 

The Saints defense, with Nolan as linebackers coach, held opponents to 91.3 rushing yards per game, fourth best in league.

Richard, who coordinated Cowboys defensive backs and the passing game this season, interviewed for the New York Giants head coach opening last Thursday.

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.

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