Less than 24 hours after it was made official that the Dallas Cowboys were moving on from Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan and Defensive Line Coach Jim Tomsula, we have the first reported interview to replace Nolan at the top of the defensive hierarchy; Atlanta Falcons Secondary Coach and Defensive Passing Game Coordinator Joe Whitt Jr.
While it’s not surprising that McCarthy is looking to coaches he had on his staff with the Green Bay Packers; it is surprising that Whitt’s is the first name to pop up. Whitt was a part of a Falcons defense that surprisingly was worse than the Cowboys. The Falcons allowed the most passing yards, had the sixth-highest yards per attempt allowed, and seventh-worst expected points added through the air in the NFL.
Perhaps it means something that he’s the first name being considered. It didn’t take long for the Cowboys to hire Mike McCarthy after just a couple of interviews in their head coaching search last year. However, Whitt won’t be the only guy they interview for the job or even just one of two guys they interview for the job.
Internally, they have a couple of candidates that McCarthy could look to, such as George Edwards and Scott McCurley.
Edwards was most recently the defensive coordinator for Mike Zimmer and the Minnesota Vikings. He has a lot of experience but hasn’t called plays since 2011 with the Buffalo Bills under Chan Gailey. He’s only had three seasons in which he was the defensive play-caller—2003 under Steve Spurrier and 2010 and 2011 under Gailey.
McCurley is in a similar boat to Whitt. A McCarthy guy that has never been a defensive coordinator. Like Whitt, McCurley came up through the Green Bay Packers defensive ranks under Dom Capers. Capers was well known for his aggressive style of defense, sending extra rushers in their 3-4 that gave teams around the league fits.
It’s very early in the search process, and there are many intriguing names still to be considered if the Dallas Cowboys are interested. Coaches like Marvin Lewis spent most of the last decade as the Head Coach of the Cincinnati Bengals. He was the coordinator for that Baltimore Ravens defense that was so dominant it got Trent Dilfer a ring.
All of this to say, don’t panic about the first name you hear connected to the Cowboys. There will be several more names linked to Dallas over the next week. Be more concerned with the last name you hear announced as the defensive coordinator for the Cowboys.