Nineteen teams will begin next season with a new defensive coordinator. Six teams are still looking for a defensive genius to take them to the next level.
Defensive Coordinators Jim Schwartz, Steve Spagnuolo and Rex Ryan all got promoted to head coach. Making lateral moves were Gunther Cunningham (Chiefs to Lions), Gregg Williams (Jaguars to Saints) and Ron Meeks (Colts to Panthers). Mike Trgovac (Panthers to Packers) took a step down the ladder by going from DC to defensive line coach. The remaining dirty dozen were asked to leave.
A look at the fallout:
New Hires: Lions (Cunningham); Saints (Williams); Green Bay (Dom Capers); Seattle (Casey Bradley); Giants (Bill Sheridan); Denver (Mike Nolan); Cleveland (Rob Ryan); Rams (Ken Flajole); Texans (Frank Bush); Bucs (Jim Bates); Ravens promote their former LB coach (Greg Mattison); The Jets hired former Ravens OLB coach (Mike Pettine).
Still Looking: Titans, Colts, Raiders, Chiefs, Cowboys, and Jaguars (although Jack Del Rio says he will be his own DC).
My head is spinning!
So, where do we find the next Tom Landry, Bill Parcells or Bill Belichick? (yep, Defensive Coordinators good enough to parlay their success into a head coaching spot)
We can look to someone who was a D coordinator in the past, someone who took it to the next level but is now looking for work. Romeo Crennel comes to mind, but guys like Mike Nolan and the oft-mentioned Dom Capers are taken. The herd has been thinned out.
We can look inside to Dave Campo or maybe Reggie Herring?
Then there's the approach that has you look for the up and comer, the guy who has what it takes, but just hasn't had the opportunity. We should look for valuable assistants on our team or perhaps on another who are just waiting to make their mark.
Personally, I think we need to go with the latter. Find a guy who has shown he can lead the players, has the chops to design a scheme and most important, be agile and be a counter puncher. I want a guy who understands that this game ebbs and flows. The opposing offense may probe our defense, find a weakness and exploit it, but my ideal Defensive Coordinator quickly sees what the offense is doing and like a battlefield commander, adjusts his men to meet that threat, and crush it.
There is the school of thought that Wade Phillips was and will be the de facto Defensive Coordinator for the Cowboys, and that whoever is hired will be nothing more than a handmaiden for Wade. The same thinking says that Brian Stewart filled this handmaiden role while he was the Cowboys DC before his termination. This argument doesn't make sense to me.
If Wade was indeed always running the defense, why not leave the current handmaiden in place? Why hire another? I don't see the logic. I believe Wade wants to have a viable, active, contributing Defensive Coordinator who he can trust with full responsibility. I believe Wade will have occasional input as any HC would, but he wants a right hand, not a handmaiden.
Looking at the carousel that has taken place since the end of the regular season- what are the Cowboys waiting for? Is there someone on either of the two Super Bowl teams that is of interest? The Cardinals DC Clancy Pendergast was with the Cowboys from '96 -'02 but I can't see him making a lateral move from a Super Bowl team to a non-playoff team. No other Cardinal assistants look like viable candidates to me. In an earlier post Rafael mentioned Bill Davis the Arizona LB coach who worked with Wade in Atlanta and Pittsburgh's DB coach Ray Horton, a former Cowboy assistant as possibilities. Pittsburgh has a more tenured group of assistants than does Arizona, indicating stability, but I don't see anyone on the Steelers who looks interesting to me either.
So, how do we find our guy? I look for those who have generated interest from other teams, but just didn't get the nod. My favorite right now? Sean McDermott from the Eagles.
He's got tenure, he has coached DBs and LBs and taken part in QC for the Eagles defense. He's had the chance to hone his craft under an aggressive master, Jim Johnson. McDermott has steadily risen through the ranks and I believe the Eagles are grooming him to be the successor for the sixty-six year old Johnson.
McDermott was considered for the DC jobs this year for the Packers and Broncos, but was passed over for former head coaches with more experience as Defensive Coordinators. His name will continue to surface as a candidate.
The knock on McDermott will be his lack of 3-4 experience having been Johnson's protege the last ten years. However, Johnson is a blitz master and a 3-4 offers more opportunities for creative blitzes than a 4-3. McDermott can use his 4-3 background and Wade's 3-4 to develop innovative, aggressive schemes. A number of teams have started to employ these hybrid defenses, a mix of the 3-4 and 4-3, specific to the situation to confound offenses. The Cardinals, Ravens, Raiders, Dolphins, Patriots, Jets, Cowboys, Browns, and 49ers all have used some form of the hybrid.
That's just my opinion......does anyone else out there have one?