Cowboys’ Mike McCarthy throws defensive coordinator under bus after poor Week 4 performance

By Vincent Frank
Aug 24, 2020; Frisco, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys player Jaylon Smith (right) talks with Mike Nolan during training camp at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas. Mandatory Credit: James D. Smith via USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys’ defense is on pace to be among the worst in the modern history of the National Football League. On Sunday alone against the Cleveland Browns, this Mike Nolan-led unit gave up 49 points, 33 first downs and 508 total yards of offense.

This ruined an historical performance from quarterback Dak Prescott, who became the first player in league history to throw for 450-plus yards in three consecutive games. The end result was a 49-38 loss and questions surrounding Dallas’ decision to hire Mike McCarthy as its new head coach to replace Jason Garrett.

Following the humiliating loss, it appears that there’s a rift within the Cowboys’ coaching staff.

Mike McCarthy throws Mike Nolan under the bus

It must be noted that McCarthy did go with the blanket statement that this ultimately falls at his feet. Even then, to point to a specific defensive scheme after a brutal performance is something else. McCarthy is saying that Nolan’s scheme leaves a lot to be desired.

There’s certainly some truth to this. A failure as the 49ers’ head coach from 2005-08, Nolan has not been a defensive coordinator in the NFL since 2014. His performance in that role dating back to a stint with the Atlanta Falcons from 2012-14 magnifies Nolan’s struggles in the modern NFL.

  • 2012: 24th in total defense
  • 2013: 27th in total defense
  • 2014: 32nd in total defense

In no way is that going to get it done.

With that said, McCarthy made the decision to hire Nolan as his defensive coordinator knowing full well his track record. The two worked together in San Francisco when McCarthy was Nolan’s offensive coordinator. That built-in relationship might have impaired McCarthy’s thought process.

What does this mean moving forward? It’s simple. There’s now a chance that the Cowboys admit their mistake and relieve Nolan of his duties after just four games. Defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, another former 49ers head coach, could potentially get the promotion to defensive coordinator.

It’s something to think about with the Cowboys at 1-3 on the season and giving up an average of 36.5 points per game.