FRISCO - Should Mike Nolan be judged on his 16-game body of work, which included an ill-fated offseason plan and a 6-10 record? Or on the December three-game win streak, during which his defense produced 10 takeaways?
Or on Sunday's 23-19 playoff-dream-killing loss at the New York Giants?
The decision has been made by the Jones family. Nolan, as of Friday, is fired, as is his top assistant, D-line coach Jim Tomsula.
The PR-released remarks from head coach Mike McCarthy:
“I am appreciative of my relationships with both Mike and Jim, and I am grateful for the contributions that both of them made to our team under difficult circumstances in 2020. These are never easy decisions to make, and we wish them, and their families, the very best in the future.”
McCarthy has spent the week dodging the question about his pal Nolan's job security because Mike McCarthy wasn't in charge of deciding.
Nolan is more than a McCarthy pal; he's a capable coach with a long history of competence. But he demonstrated little of that in his first year in Dallas. The attempt to install a new defense last summer was an exercise in arrogance and ignorance. The fact that it may have eventually taken hold doesn't erase that, nor does it erase the number of games that featured blown assignments and dubious effort.
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By the numbers and otherwise, this group will go down as one of the worst defensive units in franchise history. And when McCarthy preaches "accountability'' ... well, the Jones family realizes that - in addition to peering into their own mirror - Nolan figured to be high on the list of those being held accountable.
And now he has been held accountable. Next up? Members of the defensive staff.
A year ago, the Joneses allowed McCarthy to make his staff hires unilaterally. That will not happen this time. One of three things, we say, will:
1) McCarthy will be stripped of his ability to chose his coordinator. The Joneses family will have a (heavy) hand in the process.
2) Nolan will be followed out the door by what may be a clean sweep of virtually the entire defensive staff, which sources inside the building tell CowboysSI.com is sorely lacking in true "teachers.'' Some inside The Star were not impressed with the work of D-line coach Tomsula; nobody in the building was pleased with the teaching abilities of the relatively inexperienced secondary coaches.
3) McCarthy will forge a compromise of sorts, with Nolan booted but staffer George Edwards, a special assistant and former Vikings coordinator, elevated to the vacancy.
McCarthy last week tried to downplay the significance of his non-answers regarding Mike Nolan by saying, "Just so you know, I answer this question the same every year.” But that's not entirely true.
This isn't "the same as every year.'' A coordinator who is close friends with the head coach has been fired. That's highly unusual ... just as Nolan's defense was unusually poor.