There are going to be a lot of changes this upcoming season on defense with players leaving and the possibility of a change at defensive coordinator still lingering. It’s possible that the Cowboys decision-makers, owner Jerry Jones and Stephen Jones, along with Mike McCarthy, keep defensive coordinator Mike Nolan on in his current position, but the two Joneses really didn’t give him a vote of confidence the same way they did with head coach McCarthy on 105.3 The Fan. So there’s a chance that Nolan could be on the chopping block.
But what would the Cowboys be looking for? Would they remain a base 4-3 defense that the majority of the players were drafted to play and are comfortable playing with some hybrid looks mixed in? Will they look to transition more to a 3-4 defense that Nolan has coached before, even if he’s not here? It’s hard to know what the plans are, but if they decide to move on from Nolan, here are three candidates they could look at moving into the coordinator position.
Edwards, who is currently on the Cowboys coaching staff as a senior defensive assistant, would be the most obvious choice for the Cowboys. He‘s been around the players all season long so he knows their strengths and weaknesses. That gives him a leg up on all other coordinators or coaches that would be under consideration by the Cowboys. He also is a disciple of Mike Zimmer during his time as a defensive coordinator in Minnesota.
He took over the defense in Minnesota in 2014 and during his time there the Vikings defense never ranked lower than 11th in overall defense and were the top defense in the NFL in 2017. Edward's knowledge and familiarity with the players would make him a natural fit to continue building the Cowboys defense. Coach McCarthy has already spoken about the respect he has for Edwards from their days competing against each other in the NFC North.
The Cowboys brought Lewis in for an interview before hiring Mike McCarthy last season so they already have a feel for what he may want to do on defense. He is a coach that has extensive experience coordinating different styles of defenses. He coached the 2000 Baltimore Ravens number one ranked defense to a Super Bowl Championship. Lewis is considered one of the league’s best defensive coordinators and that would go along way in gaining the respect and ear of the defensive players on this Cowboys team.
Lewis has spent a lot of his time coaching a 4-3 defense but he could add some 3-4 concepts to keep teams on their toes. Either way, it would be a strong addition to a Cowboys defense that ranked 28th in overall defense this season.
Now I know what you’re going to say, coaches that leave the New England Patriots never do well on their own. Well, you’d be right if we were talking about anytime they take a position as a head coach in the NFL, but this wouldn’t be a head coaching position and it would allow Patricia to get back to doing what he does best - coaching defenses. If the Cowboys are looking for a coach that is going to get in the player's faces and fire them up then Patricia could be the perfect man to bring in to light a fire under a defense that seemed to be sleepwalking at times this season.
You also have to assume that during his time in Detroit his defenses should have been better but his general manager didn’t do him any favors by trading away players for draft picks that didn’t pan out. Patricia wouldn’t have to worry about that with the Joneses and Will McClay drafting and working in free agency. He would also have a lot more talent to work with than he had at any point during his time coaching the Lions.