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3 Candidates the Dallas Cowboys Should Consider for Defensive Coordinator

Late last night it was reported by Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News that Dallas Cowboys Defensive Coordinator will not be returning for the Dallas Cowboys in 2021. As one of the worst defenses in the NFL this season, much of the criticism for the poor play has fallen at the feet of the defensive coordinator. And as the report indicates, the Cowboys will be looking for a solution to its defensive woes in the coming offseason.

So in addition to all of the areas they’ll seek to improve on the defensive side of the football, they’ll be shopping for a new defensive coordinator to add to the mix. So let’s look at three names who could be options for the Dallas Cowboys this spring.

George Edwards

It’s possible that the Dallas Cowboys already have their next defensive coordinator on the coaching staff in Senior Defensive Assistant George Edwards. Prior to coming to the Cowboys, Edwards was the defensive coordinator for Mike Zimmer in Minnesota from 2014 to 2019.

Though Zimmer called the defense for the Vikings, Edwards was part of the construction of a defense that finished in the top 10 in points allowed in 2015, 2017, and 2019. Unfortunately, previous stints with the Buffalo Bills and Washington Football Team (2003) didn’t go as well.

It’s possible Edwards could have a leg up on the competition with his experience in the league, but they could also go with a youth movement on defense as they have on offense.

Scott McCurley

One of the few coaches on this staff with direct ties to Mike McCarthy’s time in Green Bay is linebackers coach Scott McCurley. Though the linebacker group hasn’t played particularly well this season, McCurley’s time with McCarthy could give him an edge on other candidates in the coaching search.

He’s been with Mike McCarthy his entire NFL tenure. If there was ever a “Mike McCarthy guy” on this coaching staff, it’s McCurley.

Of course, there’s no telling what his defensive philosophy is, but if it’s anything like the defensive coordinator he grew up under with the Packers, he’ll be a very aggressive defensive coordinator.

After Dom Capers was hired in 2009 to be the defensive coordinator, the Packers became known for their aggressive blitzing scheme. McCurley spent 2009 to 2017 coaching under Capers, which undoubtedly had an influence on his coaching philosophy.

Wade Phillips

A name that is going to be thrown around a ton over the next month or so is that of former Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, Wade Phillips. Phillips is fondly remembered for his defensive scheme that helped the Cowboys find success in the mid-2000s.

Those his head coaching tenure didn’t fare so well, he went on to have several more fantastic seasons coaching defenses, including helping the Denver Broncos win the Super Bowl and get to another one with the Los Angeles Rams.

Though teams run nickel as their base defense in the modern NFL, coaching philosophies and schemes still matter and Wade Phillips has been one of the best defensive coordinators of the last 20-30 years. His defenses have finished in the top 10 in scoring defense 11 times since 2000, including the 2006 San Diego Chargers who finished number one in the NFL in scoring defense. Only six times in the last 20 seasons has a defense of his finished outside the top 20.

That’s a ton of consistency as the NFL has evolved into a passing league before our very eyes. While his end with the Cowboys was met with disappointment, Phillips has remained a popular figure among Cowboys fans.

It would be an incredible circle of life moment if Wade Phillips were to be hired by the guy who was on the opposite side of the field for his last game as the Dallas Cowboys Head Coach.

Who do you think should be the next defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys?

What do you think?

John Williams

Written by John Williams

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.


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  1. Ask for Rex Ryan !!. Make the call Mike McCarthy. He is currently sitting around as a commentator wasting his time doing meaningless projections. He sure as heck couldn’t be any worse than Nolan’s “absolute train wreck”. McCarthy, your skills(??) (we are wondering…) are as a head coach, not as a DC. Make the call. Maybe ask Jerry or Stephen. Jerry likes to micro-manage and control everything else. At least Jerry won’t cost anything on the “overloaded no talent payroll”. Wade Phillips is too old. McCurley is another washout from GB and Edwards is questionable. Can’t the scripted writers for the Cowboys ever suggest anything better than the usual dreaming, unfulfilled fantasy, posturing and downright stupidity?

  2. I believe that players play the game & they should be held accountable too for underachieving because at the end of the day no matter how much you are coached you still have to go out on the field & execute.

  3. Kris Rashard would definitely work for the Cowboys. I liked when he would get on they guys when they didn’t do there jobs. He’s young and can make the difference

  4. I think Kris Richard got a raw deal here. I would love to see him come back as the DC! The players we currently have would thrive in his system. He plays a very aggressive style. Furthermore draft either CB Surtain/Farley and S Cisco/Ford and sign a DL in FA…..and draft DT Shelvin/Slaton. You could also try signing S Simmons out of Denver. Draft the LT out of USC and WR Daerden(I think is his name from N Texas) the kid is electric! Draft Surratt LB from N Carolina and dare I say QB Ehlinger from Texas.
    If Chuba Hubbard falls to 3rd round I’d definitely pick him up. DE Phillip’s from Miami would be a steal in the 4th rd.
    Let Crawford, Looney, Smith, Lee, Lewis, Woods, Thompson, Dalton all walk….not sure how I feel about Awuzie yet.
    Anyway, these are just some of my thoughts….some may be a pipedream….but, you never know. FIRST THINGS FIRST….SIGN DAK, JJ!!! HIS PRICE TAG KEEPS GOING UP!!

  5. Kris Richard should’ve been kept, along with his mentor Rod Martinelli. But in this climate now at wirst, Richard will have his choices of places to be DC, and it would not surprise me if he gets HC interviews too.

    If it was me I’d mske a call to Dan Quinn right now. He is available to be talked to right now.

  6. J.J. completely screwed Wade over by not giving him the head coach job over Garret..not sure he would ever be a part of the Cowboys again..Id like to see Richard get another chance

  7. I like Gregg Williams aggressiveness. I know he had a rough go with the Jets but they traded away what little talent he had to work with on defense. Saints were good with him as their defensive coordinator.

  8. This team is set up for a 4-3 scheme only and has been for the last decade. So, any DC u want needs to have a 4-3 pedigree, PERIOD!!!!!!!!

  9. jerry meeds to hire himself as DC so he can fir himself, amd start getting used to holding himself accountable.

    then, with the worse defense in the leauge, jerry as owner will have to step in and fire jerry the DC. Logicially, jerry the owner will have to fire jerry the DC for the brainless stupidity of hiring some rich oul guy from arkansas who simply “loves football’ as his only qualification.

    then, pray god make it so, jerry realizes that he has to fire himself as owner for the brainless stupidity of hiring a GM based only on the qualification that the old fart ‘loves football’ and has fielded a laughingstock team since jimmy gave him three superbowls….

    and maybe the cowboys wont be such a perinnial dissapointment

  10. Kris Richard or Robert Saleh would be a good choice. Someone that tells our guys to actually hit the ball carrier instead of playing patty cake with them. This isn’t flag football and you don’t help the ball carrier back to his feet after you knock them down. If you get a shot on the quarterback when he’s running the ball you lay his @$$ out. You have to make that offense fear and respect you. Know that they are gonna get hit hard if they have the ball. I’m not saying be dirty but make them pay for trying to gain yards. But what do I know.

  11. I would love for us to get a younger def mind maybe grab guy from rams or heck maybe Bill belichick son. If you haven’t heard him talk go to YouTube sounds just like Bill. Dan Quinn would be another option or Wade Phillips but I don’t think we should stay at 3/4 team is a 4/3.. Or def outside the organization fresh mind new ideas Rex would be a nice hire and the x coach of bengals Marvin heck I think we need to fire McCarthy no excuse for his mess up this year I really want a new head coach Eric B from kc and from hiring him you would get couple 3rd round picks too have him make trade grab new qb Incase no deal is met with Dak trade for Lawrence or maybe he will refuse like Eli did.

  12. Kris Richards. Then draft or trade for a hungry DE to go with Gregory. Release or trade Tank Lawrence, LB Smith. Get a top safety in free agency. Don t resign DaK, try to offer Lawrence or Smith with the pick to get the #1 overall pick then select Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence.

  13. Before we hire anew DC, how about we find a true General Manager that can evaluate talent on the field and IN THE OFFICE. We have brought in re-tread coaches and let good talent like Kris Richards leave or stand in the shadows for far too long, Jerry Jones needs to step away and allow football minds to make the decisions on personnel. Until this one change is made, we are to be relegated to the back of the NFL!

    • I wonder if he has the respect of the guys on the defense. They seem to be a leaderless group and one would think he’d be the guy to set the tone, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

  14. Kris Richard should never have been let go! Anyone who watched him with the defense at training camp and practice could tell that he had the respect of the players, the knowledge of the game and the fire to motivate the players to perform for him.

  15. Wade Phillips is a great DC, but he’s 73. I vote we go after a young, aggressive DC. Plus after being the HC in Dallas, what makes you people think he wants to comeback and be our DC?

  16. Kris Richard for me our defense was 8th in the league with him at one point we was 4th please bring back Richard Jerry Jones we got the corners already that would be perfect for his philosophy!!!!

  17. Chris Richards was why our defense of backs were getting better and as soon as you let him go you got your answer last in defense so sad we let go of good young coaches SMH WAKE UP JERRY

  18. Here’s a novel idea: why don’t we try using the ENTIRE League and find a hungry, young, brilliant defensive mind? Outta all the assistants in the NFL, this was the best you could do?

  19. Wade Phillios is a must if Mr
    Jerry Jones wants to build The Dallas Cowboys in being America’s Team again! Another tid bit for Mr Jones…have patience you cannot tear down the learning curve! It took you a long time to break down greatness, it going to take time and consistency to rebuild. Faithful Fan!

  20. Kris Richard should should and should have been the defensive coordinator if not the HEAD COACH. Troy Akiman should be the General Manager…

  21. I would go get Robert Saleh from the 49ers. He would be a great fit for the Cowboys. I would even like to see him the Head Coach of the Cowboys too.

  22. This is a difficult subject, for many things need to change. Greg Williams is the best DC available in the NFL.
    He has been an absolute star as a DC:
    1997-2000 DC Tennessee Titans, one of top defenses in NFL
    2001-2003 Head Coach, Buffalo Bills, Fired after three losing seasons
    2004-2007 DC Wash Redskins one of top defenses in NFL
    2009-2011 DC New Orleans Saints-one of top defenses in NFL, Solid Playoff Team
    2012 hired as St.Louis/LA Rams DC, but fired shortly thereafter as a result of “bounty-gate” investigation
    Paying players for illegal hits
    2013 Reinstated by NFL commissioner Goodell, Senior Asst Defense coach, Tenn Titans
    2014-2016 DC LA Rams Good defense, but fired when HC Fisher Fired at end of 2016
    2017-2018 DC Cleveland Browns, Very Good Defense,
    2018 Interim HC Cleveland Browns, 5-3 record (miraculous) but not retained
    2019-2020 DC NY Jets, #7 Def in NFL for horrible Jets team, 2020 Fired as part of Jets 0fer record

    Summary: The 62 year-old Williams has shown the ability to adapt to a wide variety of HC and consistently
    deliver top defenses. However, he also has a record of mercurial conduct and inability to get along with
    some of his owners and superiors. If one so notes, he does not remain in place for very long.
    Williams is a GET it DONE NOW DC. If Dallas projects as a rebuilding team then hire Kris Richard.

  23. I have a feeling it will be Marvin Lewis as we try to assemble a dream-team (experience wise) coaching staff. Then in one year we will start all over.

    Robert Salah will never make a lateral move.

  24. Anyrhing better than what we have with the experience we have on defensive side of the ball alot of adjusting should have been done!! Dc4lyfe

  25. The Cowboys need a young man like Kellen Moore to call the defense. #1 Kris Richards, #2 A college defensive coordinator .#3 know more retreads.
    Joey Duncan

    • He was great in New England as are a lot of former New England coordinators. Which makes you wonder what if working for the greatest football coach ever might have something to do with it.

  26. 1.Kris Richards because he never had full control of the defense when he was there.The players know him. Look at how he had Seattle’s defense.
    2.Wade Philips his resume is self explanatory.
    3. Greg Williams or the Clemson DC.

    • I like the idea, but I think he’s a college guy. There are NFL guys and there are college guys and I think he’s just one of those guys that’s going to have a long and successful career at the college level.

  27. I don’t think it’s so much the Coach. I’ve got to go with with the players being at fault.The secondary can’t cover anybody.The front four can’t stop the run plays.The linebackers can’t tackle.That’s my opinion.

  28. First you need to remove Jerry Jones as general manager. Second I would go ahead and fire Mike McCarthy for having brought on Mike Nolan in the first place. I was not rehire wait Phillips since he is getting up there in age. If you were available I would hire Robert Saleh from the Niners. Beyond that I might consider Kris Richard.


  30. Wade Phillips, Marvin Lewis, or Matt Patricia would be my top choices. I don’t think any one “in house” should be hired as they are clearly not teaching very well at the moment. Both McCurley and Edwards seem to be failing to get their messages across right now, a title change won’t change that …

  31. I keep seeing Kris Richard and while I,liked him a a DB coach it is concerning that he is not even coaching in the NFL for anyone at this time.

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