Replacing Dan Quinn is not an easy task for the Cowboys. Quinn turned what was a historically bad defense under former coordinator Mike Nolan into one of the best units in the league over the last three seasons. Now that Quinn has joined divisional rival Washington Commanders as their new head coach, the Cowboys are tasked with the difficult job of finding someone to step in and continue the success that Quinn had.
The Dallas Cowboys seem to have their eyes set on two former head coaches for their vacant defensive coordinator role. On Monday, the team interviewed former Carolina Panthers and Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera. While Rivera didn’t have great success as the coach of the Commanders, he is well-respected as a defensive mind in the league and could thrive in Dallas. The team has also reportedly interviewed defensive line coach Aden Durde and surprisingly Rex Ryan.
On Tuesday, the team interviewed former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. Zimmer took last season off from the NFL, and could be looking to make an NFL comeback if the Cowboys decide to bring him on their staff. It would be fitting for Zimmer to make his return in Dallas, as he started off his NFL career by joining the team as an assistant defensive coach under Barry Switzer in 1994.
Zimmer thrived in his first professional coaching role, helping coach a successful nickel defense under Switzer. In 1995, he was promoted to the defensive backs coach and served that role well until receiving another promotion in 2000. This time, he was promoted to the defensive coordinator. Fast forward to 2003, and the Cowboys defense gave up the fewest yards in the NFL, as they thrived off running an aggressive and fast-paced 4-3 defensive scheme.
From 2014-2021, the Minnesota Vikings had a stellar defense. They had the third-highest sack percentage (7%), allowed only 21.3 points per game, and allowed a total QBR of 54.
An example of how Mike Zimmer used his blitz package on 3rd down in 2021.— Brandon Loree (@Brandoniswrite) February 4, 2024
The use of the “Double-A Package” seems to add confusion along the opposing o-line, never knowing where the blitz would come from.
Just an example of what he could bring to the #Cowboys defense https://t.co/H2tjrtXmW9
The stats support that Quinn was an incredible coordinator in Dallas. He had the Cowboys defense near the top of most statistical categories each of his three seasons with the team. While it may not be easy to see him go, Zimmer would be a nice replacement option for the Cowboys. He has valuable experience in the NFL, and could do a lot of good things with this talented defense in Dallas.