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Cowboys Eyeing Mike Nolan for Defensive Coordinator: Report


Mike Nolan

Mike McCarthy was the first domino to fall in the Dallas Cowboys’ coaching makeover — the first of many as McCarthy now works to assemble his staff.

Per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, McCarthy has been “putting in a ton of time” over the last several months “tracking league trends.” He’s consulted other unemployed coaches ostensibly to keep his finger on the pulse of an ever-changing sport.

This diligence has led to an early front-runner for defensive coordinator: Former 49ers head coach and current Saints linebackers coach Mike Nolan.

“The staff is going to come together quickly here,” Pelissero said. “We don’t know entirely what the answers are going to be at certain spots. We know that Jerry Jones has an affinity for Kellen Moore. I’ve also been told, along with my colleague Steve Wyche, that one name to watch for defensive coordinator is Mike Nolan, the former 49ers head coach.”

An NFL lifer, Nolan’s professional resume dates all the way back to 1987, when he cut his teeth as the Denver Broncos’ special teams coordinator. He was bumped to Broncos linebackers coach in 1989 and earned his first coordinating stint, with the New York Giants, in 1993.

Since then, he’s held DC duties with the Washington Redskins (1997-99), New York Jets (2000), Baltimore Ravens (2002-04), Miami Dolphins (2010-11), and Atlanta Falcons (2012-14).

Nolan’s biggest job came in 2005 when he was named San Francisco’s head man, succeeding Dennis Erickson. His Niners tenure was entirely underwhelming; he compiled an 18-37 head-coaching record across four seasons. He was fired midway through the 2008 campaign and replaced by Mike Singletary.

Following a one-year stint (2015) coaching the Chargers’ linebackers, Nolan landed in New Orleans, where he’s helped transform a once-laughable defense into an upper-echelon unit. In 2019, the Saints finished fourth against the run and totaled 51 sacks, third-most in the league.

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Likely a Goner, Kris Richard Interviews for NYG Job

Once the 2019 season concluded and now-former HC Jason Garrett began his exit interviews, he reportedly urged assistants to seek employment elsewhere, as his replacement surely would bring in his own people.

Cowboys passing game coordinator/defensive backs coach Kris Richard took the message to heart, interviewing for the New York Giants’ head-coaching vacancy last Thursday. Richard met with co-owner John Mara and general manager Dave Gettleman, among others, per ESPN.

“Very impressive guy,” Gettleman said.

Richard technically reported to Cowboys de facto defensive boss Rod Marinelli, but the agreed-to setup had Richard handling a majority of play-calling duties and weekly gameplan installation.

Obviously, Nolan’s addition would render Richard and Marinelli obsolete. As would any hirings on the offensive side, which threaten OC Kellen Moore and running backs coach Gary Brown’s status — to name a few — with the organization.

For what it’s worth, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport has learned that McCarthy “likes” Moore, perhaps enough to retain him for 2020, although a decision is far from concrete.

“Nothing more firm than that, but it does seem like McCarthy is more than open to keeping him,” Rapoport said.

READ NEXT: Reaction Pours in After Cowboys Hire Mike McCarthy as New Head Coach

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