FRISCO - Mike Nolan is still in the building. George Edwards is also in the building. Assuming defensive coordinator Nolan is axed following this woeful Dallas Cowboys season, it's easy to envision the Joneses being persuaded by head coach Mike McCarthy, having just been forced to fire his friend, to involve themselves in a King Solomon-like change:
OK, Nolan has to go. But in this scenario, the McCarthy organizational apple cart remains undisturbed because "senior defensive assistant'' Edwards can simply changed offices at The Star.
I'm not especially endorsing the idea of an undisturbed apple cart. My "Top 10 Candidates to Be The Next Cowboys Coordinator'' (which actually includes more than 10 names) acknowledges McCarthy cronies (good at their jobs though they might be) but also some out-of-the-box guys who the Joneses should at least visit with to pick their defensive brains.
My list also includes a guy McCarthy talked with us (on his media conference call) on Monday: Sean Lee.
No, McCarthy is surely not envisioning the linebacker make the leap all the way to the top of his staff. (See my notes below). But there is this:
"If you’re dumb enough to get into coaching,'' McCarthy told Lee, "we should definitely talk.''
1) George Edwards - The obvious front-runner. He would represent the "change'' the Jones family is suggesting - and would get a ringing endorsement from his former boss in Minnesota, ex Dallas assistant Mike Zimmer - but he would still be a "McCarthy guy.''
Edwards was a 4-3 guy with the Vikings. I view that as a good thing; there was never any reason for McCarthy/Nolan to try to change the 2020 Cowboys away from what they were already doing.
I would add this, though: If Edwards has some magical answers on how to fix this mess, why would he wait until next year to unveil them? Shouldn't the "senior defensive assistant'' be helping now?
Indeed, if the "senior defensive assistant'' is important, why is he part of such a lousy defense?
2) Marvin Lewis - The former Bengals head coach interviewed for the Cowboys job before Nolan got it. That was a "courtesy''; this time around it should be something more.
Lewis was a success in Cincy, with a record of 131-122 over 16 years - until the playoffs, anyway. But before that? Lewis was one of the league’s best defensive coordinators, running the Ravens during their Super Bowl-caliber run in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.
He deserves more than a "courtesy'' here.
Oh, and there is a McCarthy tie as well; in the early '90's, they were both on the staff at Pitt.
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3) Packers Pals - Scott McCurley, Mike Pettine and Joe Whitt. McCurley is Dallas' linebackers coach and is a McCarthy guy with no coordinator experience. But he's in the building. Mike Pettine is the current D-coordinator with the Packers. McCarthy hired him in Green Bay in 2018. Whitt was almost hired to this Dallas staff, but after a decade in Green Bay is now an assistant in Atlanta.
4) Jim Haslett. He's now the linebackers coach with Titans. And yeah, he is an old friend of McCarthy's. How friendly? One of McCarthy's first hires in Dallas was Chase Haslett, Jim's son, who works in quality control at The Star.
5) Just-Fired Head Coaches - Dan Quinn and Matt Patricia. I'm not aware of a particular Jones/McCarthy connection. But Quinn's coached a recent Super Bowl team. And Patricia can do the "multiple'' things McCarthy says he desires.
6) Hangin'-On Head Coaches - Raheem Morris and Vic Fangio - They're not available - yet. Morris is hanging on as Atlanta's interim boss and Fangio - who was on McCarthy's 2018 interview list for the coordinator's job in Green Bay - might keep the top job in Denver.
7) Wade Phillips - The Rams allowed "Mr. Fix-It'' to hit the street, so this season he's served as a "consultant'' to anyone who will ask - high schools, colleges, you name it. He's a Jones family guy (having been the Dallas head coach, of course) and he runs the 3-4, which McCarthy may favor.
But ... if you believe this is a "young man's game,'' and if you believe that McCarthy is going to have some voice here - I don't know that there is a Phillips/McCarthy connection - this seems a long shot.
8) Jon Heacock - My list is short on college guys because that's not my bag. But his Iowa State reputation for being able to defend the spread concepts of the passing game certainly make his a brain worth picking ... which of course is often what some of these interviews turn out to be.
9) Kris Richard - He got dumped here after last year, and in my view, was criticized unfairly. Richard once was a hot head coach candidate but is out of the game in 2020.
Did he forget everything he learned and taught from his “Legion of Boom” days in Seattle? Of course not.
He obviously isn't a McCarthy pal ... thus the "dumping.'' But this defense could use some of his trademark energy (and I mean in practices and in games).
10) Lovie Smith - He's got his Texas ties, he wants back in the game, and he's Rod Marinelli's best friend. Wait - is that last one a good one?
BONUS: Sean Lee - I'm a fan of Lee but not a fan of a player going straight from being "in pads'' to "in charge.'' Lee, should he opt for retirement anytime soon, would be wise to serve an apprenticeship before taking on a title.
I do hope that apprenticeship happens here at The Star. It seems McCarthy does as well.
"We talk about a lot of things,'' McCarthy said of him and Lee. He'd be a great coach."