Dallas Cowboys: Why the Mike Nolan era was important

James D. Smith via USA TODAY Sports
James D. Smith via USA TODAY Sports /
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dallas cowboys
James D. Smith via USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Cowboys head into the bye week with a 5-1 record looking good in all three phases of the game. The talent of the roster is finally matching their roster and it has a lot to do with the coaching staff trying to be different than previous regimes. A lot of credit has been given to offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, for obvious reasons, but head coach Mike McCarthy should be at the top of the list when it comes to credit given.

I know McCarthy has a track record of being incredibly volatile and aggressive with his play-calling and situational management, with it often brought up as a hindrance to the tea. (The process isn’t always a hindrance) However, it was only a week ago that Bill Belichick discussed at length that Mike McCarthy is one of the best coaches he’s ever had the chance of competing against?

So what gives?

Head coaches are often attached to their record when things are good or when things are bad. As the Jason Garrett era reached its completion in Dallas, much of the criticism fell on Garrett while the praise went to players and coordinators. It seems history is repeating itself with McCarthy. One huge example of this so far has been the hiring of former defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and current defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

Was Mike Nolan a good defensive coordinator for Dallas? Definitely not. Was the hire a mistake that highlighted why hiring friends isn’t always a great idea? Absolutely! Was the objective behind the hire a bad thing? No…

The hiring of Dan Quinn was supposed to be the Cowboys’ way of saying they want a simpler defense. The complexity of Mike Nolan’s “multiple” scheme didn’t allow the Dallas defense to establish an identity as a defense as Richard Sherman often pointed out. Dan Quinn, hailing from the legion of boom, was supposed to bring back the Cover 3 defense that worked in 2018 albeit with different front seven looks.

While the defense has established its identity again, it hasn’t been as “simple” as many advertised it to be. The gradual shift across the league to more Quarters looks forces Single-high-heavy defenses to be more creative with their disguising and unpredictability. The same happened with Dan Quinn and now he’s running a defense that willingly blitzes more and plays more Cover 2/2 Man than it ever did in Atlanta.

But we were sold on the idea that the defense wasn’t going to be multiple? The last time it was, the team was horrendous on the defensive side of the ball. What’s changed?

This is why the Mike Nolan era was important to the Dallas Cowboys