Tagged in: Dallas Cowboys

Ex-Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn reaches deal to become Dallas Cowboys DC

The Dallas Cowboys have hired Dan Quinn to be their next defensive coordinator, the team informed Monday night.

Quinn agreed to a three-year deal, a source told ESPN, matching the length of Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore’s new contract. Both coordinators will be signed through the 2023 season.

Quinn takes over for Mike Nolan, who was fired last week by head coach Mike McCarthy, and inherits a defense that had one of the worst seasons in Cowboys history.

Quinn was fired as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons five games into the 2020 campaign after having held the job since 2015. He posted a 43-42 record and took the Falcons to the Super Bowl in his second season.

Going with Quinn signals a return to the scheme the Cowboys employed from 2013 to 2019 under Monte Kiffin, Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard.

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Quinn, 50, was the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014, before becoming Atlanta’s head coach.

He employed a 4-3 scheme that mostly used a single-high safety look and helped the Seahawks to consecutive Super Bowl appearances. The Seahawks finished No. 1 in yards and points allowed in his two campaigns.

Team owner and general manager Jerry Jones was eager to move away from the scheme the Cowboys used in McCarthy’s first year because he thought it was too simplistic. Nolan brought in a hybrid defense designed to use multiple coverages and disguises to confuse offenses, but that never really happened.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Nolan and the defensive staff had to implement their new defense virtually, without any benefit of on-field work until a shortened training camp started. The early results were disastrous, with the Cowboys allowing at least 34 points in five of the first six games.

Nolan simplified the scheme early in the season, but the defense never really took hold. The Cowboys permitted the most points in franchise history (473) and concluded with the 31st-ranked run defense.

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Dallas Cowboys fire defensive coordinator Mike Nolan

Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will not be returning to the Dallas Cowboys for the 2021 campaign, the team revealed Friday.

Last season, the Cowboys (6-10) allowed the most points in franchise history (473) and concluded 31st in the league in run defense. In the season-ending loss to the New York Giants, they allowed 23 points, including 20 in the first half, to an offense that had not scored more than 19 in five weeks.

The unit played better down the stretch with 12 takeaways in the final four matches after getting just 11 in the first 12 games, but that was aided in part by facing backup quarterbacks in Cincinnati, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

“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,” coach Mike McCarthy said in a statement. “These are never easy decisions to make, and we wish them, and their families, the very best in the future.”

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Speaking on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas at different times during the season, owner and general manager Jerry Jones and executive vice president Stephen Jones lamented the jarring scheme switch — from a 4-3 look to a hybrid look — made by the Cowboys during an offseason in which the coaches could only meet virtually with the players.

Unable to get hands-on experience until the start of an abbreviated training camp, the Cowboys defense struggled badly. They finished 23rd in yards per game (31st vs. the run, 11th vs. the pass) and 28th in points (29.6). The Cowboys allowed 69 plays of 20 yards or more, including 51 passes and 18 runs.

In the three other times the Cowboys allowed a franchise record in points, the organization either made a scheme modification or a coaching change.

After allowing 436 points in 2010, Jason Garrett was named the full-time head coach after taking over for Wade Phillips at midseason, and he hired Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator. In 2013, they allowed 432 points in Monte Kiffin’s first year as coordinator, and he was replaced by Rod Marinelli. After giving up 405 points in 2004, Bill Parcells switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme but kept Mike Zimmer as his coordinator.

McCarthy and Nolan have a long background together.

In 2005, Nolan hired McCarthy as his offensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers, which helped propel him to earning the Green Bay Packers head job a year later.

But the defense could not find its footing. While they suffered some injuries to Leighton Vander Esch (collarbone, ankle), Trysten Hill (knee) and Trevon Diggs (foot), they were not hit as hard as the Cowboys’ offense.

Their bigger free-agent pickups were either hurt in training camp (defensive lineman Gerald McCoy), did not make the team out of camp (safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix), were traded (Everson Griffen) or were released because of poor play in the middle of the season (defensive tackle Dontari Poe, cornerback Daryl Worley).

If the Cowboys look in-house for a substitute, George Edwards spent the year as a senior defensive assistant. He was Zimmer’s defensive coordinator from 2014 to 2019.

But the first question that must be answered is what type of scheme the Cowboys want to use. In Green Bay, McCarthy employed a 3-4 scheme for most of his tenure. If he wants to continue with the hybrid look Nolan attempted to use, adding players to fit the scheme will be an offseason priority. In all but three years of his time in Green Bay, the Packers used a 3-4 scheme.

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Dallas Cowboys’ Kellen Moore agrees to multiyear extension

Kellen Moore will remain as the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive coordinator, agreeing to a multiyear deal on Saturday night.

Dallas didn’t reveal the length of the contract, but a source said it’s a three-year deal.

In a statement released by the Cowboys, Moore stated he would no longer pursue the Boise State head-coaching job. He was almost immediately linked to the opening after Bryan Harsin left for Auburn. Moore had a record-setting career as quarterback for the Broncos from 2008 to 2011, winning 50 games in four campaigns.

“I love Boise State. I will always root for them, and I hope one day to be a part of the program again,” Moore said. “We are building something special here in Dallas. I am thankful to the Jones family and [head coach] Mike McCarthy for providing me with the opportunity to coach these special players. I am excited for us to put it all together and finish the job.”

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Moore, whose contract was set to expire after the season, is finishing his second season as the Cowboys’ playcaller. In 2019, the Cowboys had the top-ranked NFL offense in terms of yards per game (431.5) and finished second in passing (296.9) and fifth in rushing (134.6), as quarterback Dak Prescott posted career highs in passing yards (4,902) and touchdowns (30).

The Cowboys had the eighth-best scoring offense (25.8).

This season has been much more challenging with the Cowboys (6-9) starting four different quarterbacks. Prescott was lost in the fifth match of the season with a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle that required surgery. Andy Dalton started the next two games before suffering a concussion and missing a game on the reserve/COVID-19 list, which forced rookie Ben DiNucci and Garrett Gilbert to make the first starts of their careers.

The Cowboys were also forced to remake their offensive line numerous times, with right tackle La’el Collins not playing in a game because of hip surgery and left tackle Tyron Smith playing in just two before undergoing neck surgery. Right guard Zack Martin will miss his fifth consecutive game because of a calf strain and sixth overall Sunday.

This season, the Cowboys have the 12th-ranked offense in terms of yards, are seventh in passing and 17th in rushing. They are 16th in scoring, averaging 25.1 points per game.

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Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh won’t say if Lamar Jackson will play vs. Dallas Cowboys

Starting quarterback and reigning NFL regular-season Most Valuable Player Lamar Jackson was one of a handful of Baltimore Ravens players who tested positive for COVID-19 amid the club’s worrisome coronavirus outbreak that caused its showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers to be postponed on three occasions.

Baltimore was without Jackson during Wednesday’s 19-14 defeat at Heinz Field, and head coach John Harbaugh refused to say if the signal-caller will be available for the upcoming contest versus the Dallas Cowboys that was rearranged to Tuesday night.

“I think I already answered that,” Harbaugh replied when asked about Jackson’s status during Thursday’s media availability, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN. “When the doctors clear them for practice, that’s when we’ll have them,” he added about the 17 Baltimore players now on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

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2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III filled in for Jackson versus Pittsburgh but suffered a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter that knocked him out of the game. Griffin rushed for a team-high 68 yards but completed just seven of 12 passes for 33 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.

Trace McSorley substituted Griffin and completed two of his six attempts, one of which was a 70-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marquise Brown.

Harbaugh did say that punter Sam Koch won’t be needed as an emergency QB, which suggests two of the three players at the position will be ready to go by Tuesday evening.

The Ravens players had a day off and will return Friday for their first full practice since Nov. 20, a span of two weeks. The outbreak in Baltimore limited the team to a couple of walk-throughs. The Ravens had no positive tests Wednesday, which ended a stretch of 10 consecutive days with at least one player testing positive.

“We need to have some good practices and get our football sea legs under us so we can go out there and perform the way we want to,” Harbaugh said. The Ravens have lost three consecutive games to fall to 6-5.

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Dak Prescott of Dallas Cowboys had surgery after compound fracture

It was a bittersweet Sunday for the Dallas Cowboys. They found a way to overcome their errors on both sides of the ball to steal a victory from the New York Giants that could’ve easily gone the other way, but they lost Dak Prescott in the process, and not just for a game or two.

Prescott is presumably done for the campaign after suffering a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle, following a tackle that pinned his leg between the turf and the falling defender. He was carted off and rushed to the hospital where he was to undergo surgery Sunday evening. 

The procedure is now complete and was a success, the team informed, and Prescott will be released from the hospital at some point on Monday.

And with that, his long and arduous road to recovery initiates, but owner Jerry Jones believes few are as equipped as the two-time Pro Bowler to bounce back from such a devastating injury.

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“We are all heartbroken for Dak and this very disappointing injury,” Jones said in a statement.

“The outpouring of messages that I have received regarding his setback speaks volumes to the respect and admiration that he has earned from his teammates, former Cowboys players and Cowboys supporters everywhere. I know this young man very well. I know the personal hardship and strife that he has faced, dealt with and overcome in his young life. 

This will mark the end of an ironman streak for the former fourth-overall pick who once entered training camp as a rookie as the fourth-string quarterback, but who has since taken the NFL by storm in historic, record-setting fashion.

Prescott logged 69 consecutive starts since entering the league in 2016 — having not missed a single game — and was racking up legendary numbers as he tried to counterbalance a defense that was permitting more than 36 points per game weekly. 

The mantle for 2020 will now pass to Andy Dalton, who was able to finish the rally Prescott started on Sunday versus the Giants, helping the Cowboys move to 2-3 on the season. 

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Cowboys’ Aldon Smith ‘grateful’ to be reinstated by NFL

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Aldon Smith says he’s “grateful” for the opportunity to get back on the playing field after being conditionally reinstated by the NFL on Wednesday.

Smith, who had been suspended since 2015 for violation of the NFL’s personal conduct and substance abuse policies, discussed his reinstatement during an interview with TMZ Sports. Asked about what it will be like to get back on the field after being suspended for over four seasons, Smith said that situation has “played in my head.”

“I think the overall emotion is I’m grateful. I’m really grateful,” Smith said. “… I came a long way. For me to have the opportunity to get back and do something that I love, something that I enjoyed — just to have that opportunity again means a lot. I was able to defeat some big, big obstacles in my life.”

Smith has been arrested numerous times in his career for offenses including DUIs and domestic violence. In 2018, he was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years’ probation after pleading no contest to violating a court order and false imprisonment to settle the domestic violence case. He served the sentence in an inpatient drug and alcohol treatment center.

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He stated he is now sober, telling TMZ that he wants his story to be an inspiration for others.

“I just want my story to spread and help out others,” Smith said. “For people who may have thought differently about me and for those people who always believed in me to be able to say, ‘Wow, this is great.’ Because I believe everybody goes through things in their life, and no matter what they do for a profession, it affects them in a manner that can either be their downfall or it can be something they look at and learn from. I want people to see my story and see it and be like, ‘Hey man, he can do it; he’s done it.’ I want to be a source of inspiration.”

Smith had 47.5 sacks in 59 matches before his suspension. He told TMZ he is now “an overall better person.” Smith will be able to take part in meetings with Cowboys coaches and teammates in the virtual offseason program starting Tuesday.

He signed a one-year contract with the Cowboys in April. By being reinstated, he will receive $90,000 from the Cowboys and can make up to $4 million if he reaches multiple incentives in the contract.

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Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch out for season due to neck injury

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch suffered a neck injury during Sunday’s match versus the Philadelphia Eagles and will not return.

Vander Esch recorded three tackles before exiting, raising his season total to 54.

Injuries were a topic surrounding Vander Esch entering the 2018 NFL draft. He was limited to just six games as a redshirt sophomore at Boise State as he dealt with a concussion and a neck injury.

His agent told the Idaho Press his client passed all medical checks during the predraft process.

Dallas was impressed enough by his film and skill set that it took him with the 19th overall pick. He went on to record 140 tackles, two interceptions and seven pass breakups as a rookie en route to the Pro Bowl. He was also voted second-team All-Pro.

Vander Esch was the first to make contact with the opposing ball carrier on 15.1 percent of his defensive snaps in 2018.

That put him well ahead of his peers, as no other off-ball linebacker with at least 400 defensive snaps finished above 12.6 percent.

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He wound up playing all 18 games (including the postseason) in his first year as a pro, though he missed the start of organized team activities in May this year with a pelvis injury. 

Vander Esch was, however, ready for the regular season.

Losing him for any period of time would be a blow to the middle of the defense. The linebacking corps still features the likes of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith, though the Cowboys will have a hard time replacing Vander Esch.

For his part, Vander Esch has made it clear he plans on playing “12 years” in the NFL and “not four”, indicating he’s totally fine with how the Cowboys are approaching the situation.

In his stead, veteran linebackers Sean Lee and Joe Thomas have taken up the mantle on the weakside.

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Carolina Panthers at Dallas Cowboys

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The undefeated Carolina Panthers are at the Dallas Cowboys in a Thanksgiving Day special featuring marquee quarterbacks Cam Newton and Tony Romo, to say nothing of the Greg Hardy connection. Kickoff is at 4:30 p.m. Thursday

Carolina is one of just two undefeated teams remaining in the NFL and quarterback Cam Newton is being considered for the MVP due to his outstanding play this season. Newton has always been a strong runner at quarterback, but this season his passing is much improved.

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The Cowboys now have Tony Romo back under center after missing 7 games, Dallas is four games under .500 but is still in the running to win the NFC East, trailing the New York Giants by just two games.

Tony Romo led Dallas to its first win in 8 games last weekend defeating Miami 24-14.

Carolina beat two opponents in the NFC East – Washington and Philadelphia – handily and brings the league’s third highest scoring offense, but faces four of their next five games away from home.

The Carolina defense, albeit not as strong as previous years, is rounding into form and has a strong front seven against the run.

Greg Hardy the defensive end for Dallas will be facing his former team for just the first time since he left last offseason. Carolina will have its talented defensive end Charles Johnson activated to play and give Romo a hard time with his pass rush.

Dallas will look to run the ball with Darren McFadden to take the early pressure off Romo and open passing lanes for him to hit Dez Bryant down field and Jason Witten over the middle.

Dallas has won five straight games outright against Carolina. However, the two teams have not played head to head since October of 2012.

This is probably one of those games that has a score of something like 7-6 after three quarters, as the two defenses battle it out.

Three keys to watch

Can the Panthers keep Hardy off Newton?

This is the game everyone circled when schedules were released in April. The return of Tony Romo makes it more interesting, but all eyes will be on the Cowboys defensive end.

Forcing a Romo moment.

Romo remains one of the game’s great gunslingers. He’s never met a throwing window he didn’t think he could zip a pass through. That has led to plenty of late-game drama – good and bad.

Linebacker play will be key

There might be more interesting matchups (start with Dez Bryant vs. Josh Norman), but this game could be decided by which team best stops the run. Both teams rank among the league’s top eight rushing offenses, with the Panthers’ Jonathan Stewart and Dallas’ Darren McFadden both coming off 100-yard games

 

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