The myriad of questions surrounding the Dallas Cowboys regime change from Jason Garrett to Mike McCarthy has now met a variety of answers, with McCarthy havingthat currently includes only offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and position coach Doug Nussmeier as remaining members.
The jury was still out on if McCarthy, a talented and proven play-caller in his own right, would orchestrate plays for the Cowboys in 2020, though,— whom he was impressed with even before he knew he’d be interviewed by Dallas this offseason. The creativity of Moore that flipped the Cowboys offense from one of the worst to first in a single season will combine with the experience of McCarthy as they tailor the playbook to a West Coast format, but without overhauling it.
Instead they’ll keep the same language quarterback Dak Prescott is familiar with, and that helped lift him to a career-best season in 2019.
With that now put to bed, what of the defense?
I projected the Cowboys would stick with their incumbent 4-3 scheme under new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, but with the caveat the unit would see variations based on Nolan’s ability to coach both a 4-3 and a 3-4 on-demand.
“Really, 3-4 and 4-3 defense is how you’re identifying the player profiles,” McCarthy said. “I feel like player acquisition and coaching instruction is a two-way street.”
Doubling down on his previous proclamation that, McCarthy wants to adapt his scheme with the Cowboys to the talent present and incoming, as opposed to boxing out potentially elite talent for the sake of finding what fits. For those still scratching their head about the decision to select Taco Charlton over T.J. Watt, and then Trysten Hill over Juan Thornhill, this is a welcome point of view that is also an about-face when compared to how the now-gone Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard ran the unit — where physical prototype often trumped talent.
“I think if you have a system of defense where you need a certain player to fit your scheme, you’re limiting your personnel department,” McCarthy said. “We know what a Dallas Cowboys football player looks like — the length [and] the athletic ability. Let’s get as many good football players as we possibly can. Its our job as coaches to make sure our scheme boundaries are plenty wide enough to fit any excellent football player into our program.
“That’s always been a philosophy of mine on offense and that’ll continue to be so on defense.”
In Dallas, that’s a novel idea.