After Sunday, has Mike Nolan secured his job with the Dallas Cowboys?
Somehow, someway, the Dallas Cowboys are headed towards a likely division-leading showdown against the Washington Football Team on Thanksgiving Night. With the Philadelphia Eagles facing a tough home stretch starting with a date against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, the Thursday winner is likely to lead the NFC East heading into December.
With everything that has gone wrong this year, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has probably gotten the bulk of the criticism, and rightfully so. The Dallas Cowboys were on pace to give up the most points in the history of the NFL.
Somewhere between the hot sauce in his eye and the roster shuffling right before the NFL trade deadline, these Dallas Cowboys defenders have shown that they can defend an NFL offense. Those words would have upset a lot of fans a mere month ago.
Now they sit in a position where they have the inside track at winning the Division and hosting a playoff game. I have been one of Mike Nolan’s biggest critics but I have to give him credit for recognizing that his scheme was an issue and has adjusted to fit the players he coaches.
I could be wrong and the sudden defense resurgence could be the product of input from another coach. I wonder if defensive consultant and former defensive coordinator George Edwards could be providing game-altering propositions in this defense? Regardless, Mike Nolan deserves some credit for getting these players to perform in what has been a roller coaster of a season.
So has Mike Nolan done enough to justify the Cowboys keeping him past this season?
The answer to that from most fans and media critics will almost be a “no”. I was almost at the point where I was ready for the staff to move on from him but winning the Division and playing decent defense could sway head coach Mike McCarthy to keep him.
Going to the front office and telling them that making another coaching and scheme change would only hurt the team heading into next year and I am now at the point where I almost expect Nolan to be back next season.
Now, there are still six games left to go and the defense still has many more improvements to make but the defense looks like they might have found some interesting pieces that will only help the team long term.
Young players like safety Donovan Wilson and defensive tackle Antwaun Woods look like inexpensive options that are giving this team huge value. The rotations have to be cleaned up as I see some young players that need more opportunities while others would be better served with smaller roles.
These next few games are going to be huge for this team and which direction they will ultimately decide to go. I wonder how many games the 2020 Dallas Cowboys would have won if the defense played like this before quarterback Dak Prescott got injured?