It’s hard to keep your job after running one of the league’s worst defenses. Mike Nolan was reminded of this today when the Dallas Cowboys fired him after just one season as defensive coordinator.
Dallas also parted ways with Defensive Line Coach Jim Tomsula, who Nolan brought in as part of his staff last year.
The Cowboys defense finished the season 23rd overall in yards allowed. They were 31st against the run and 28th in points allowed.
Breaking news the Dallas Cowboys have fired defensive coordinator Mike Nolan @NFLonFOX
In addition to DC Mike Nolan, the #Cowboys also fired DL coach Jim Tomsula, source said.
Nolan’s arrival in Dallas has never been met with much fanfare. He’s had a middling track record for many years now and worked for numerous teams. He’d spent the last five seasons as a position coach until Mike McCarthy made him his defensive coordinator.
The Cowboys made some big shifts in their defensive scheme this year which the roster did not take to well. Jaylon Smith, arguably the biggest disappointment on the team this year, commented on the struggle of adjusting to Nolan’s scheme back in October.
There has been healthy debate on how much of Dallas’ defensive problems in 2020 were due to the coaching or the talent. By today’s move, it’s clear the front office feels a different staff should be able to get more out of the players.
There are two in-house options for these openings which could get some consideration. George Edwards, a senior assistant last year, spent 2014-2019 as the Vikings’s defensive coordinator and would likely bring back more of the general 4-3 philosophy that the Cowboys had under Rod Marinelli.
As for the defensive line coach, Leon Lett has been an assistant there for the last 10 seasons in Dallas and could finally get a chance to lead the group.
There will of course be many other options that the Cowboys will be considering in the coming weeks. An opening at defensive coordinator allows them to look around at all of the top position coaches in the NFL and perhaps poach someone from another staff.
For now, all we know is Mike Nolan, Jim Tomsula, and perhaps more of Nolan’s defensive assistants will not be back for a second season. I don’t think many in Cowboys Nation will be saddened by this news.