FRISCO, Texas — Defense coordinator Mike Nolan and defense line coach Jim Tomsula will not return to the Dallas Cowboys for the 2021 season, the team announced Friday.

Last season, the Cowboys (6-10) scored the most points in the history of the franchise (473) and ranked 31st in the league in the fast defense. In their last loss of the season, the New York Giants admitted 23 points, 20 of which in the first half, against an attack that had scored only 19 points or less in five weeks.

The unit improved by 12 outs in the last four games, compared to 11 in the first 12, but that was partly helped by opposing quarterbacks from Cincinnati, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

I’m grateful for my relationship with Mike and Jim, and I’m grateful for the contributions they both made to our team under difficult circumstances in 2020, Coach Mike McCarthy said in a statement. It is never an easy decision and we wish them and their families all the best for the future.

With 105.3 fans in Dallas, owner and general manager Jerry Jones and executive vice president Stephen Jones regretted the program change – from a 4-3 look to a hybrid look – that the Cowboys made in the off-season, where coaches could only meet virtual players.


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Because the Cowboys couldn’t gain practical experience before the start of the reduced training camp, the Cowboys’ defense didn’t function well. In a single match they were in 23rd place in yards (31st against running, 11th against passing) and 28th place in points (29.6). The Cowboys allowed 69 games of 20 yards or more, including 51 passes and 18 runs.

In the other three cases, the Cowboys allowed a record number of franchise points, the organization changed either system or coach.

With 436 points in 2010, Jason Garrett was named full-time head coach after replacing Wade Phillips in the middle of the season and hiring Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator. In 2013, they awarded Monte Kiffin 432 points in his first year as coordinator, after which he was replaced by Rod Marinelli. After scoring 405 points in 2004, Bill Parcells switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 system, but kept Mike Zimmer as coordinator.

Head Coach Mike McCarthy and Nolan have a lot of experience working together. In 2005, Nolan McCarthy joined the San Francisco 49ers as offensive coordinator, allowing him to join the Green Bay Packers a year later.

But the defense hasn’t found its rhythm. Although Leighton Vander Esch (collarbone, ankle), Tristen Hill (knee) and Trevon Diggs (foot) were injured, they were not hit as hard as the Cowboys.

Their biggest free agents were either injured in training camp (goalkeeper Gerald McCoy), could not get out of training camp (Ha Ha Clinton-Dix security), were traded (Everson Griffen), or were released mid-season due to bad play (defensive tackle Dontari Poe, corner Daryl Worley).

If the Cowboys are looking for a replacement, George Edwards was the senior defence assistant for a year. He was Zimmer’s defensive coordinator from 2014 to 2019.

But the first question that needs to be answered is what kind of system the Cowboys want to use. In Green Bay, McCarthy used a 3-4 system for most of his tenure. If he wants to continue with the hybrid look that Nolan tried to use, then adding players that fit the pattern will be an off-season priority. In just three years, the Packers at Green Bay have used a 3-4 system.

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