Do the Dallas Cowboys need to fire Mike Nolan already?

Dallas Cowboys, Jaylon Smith, Mike Nolan, Mandatory Credit: James D. Smith via USA TODAY Sports
Dallas Cowboys, Jaylon Smith, Mike Nolan, Mandatory Credit: James D. Smith via USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Cowboys seriously need to evaluate if this Dallas Cowboys coach and scheme can work moving forward or its time to cut bait.

I am not yet panicking after the first quarter of this Dallas Cowboys season. No, it has not gone as expected but there are a few surprising revelations heading into the second quarter of the season. The biggest one is how dismal Mike Nolan‘s defense has been so far this season.

If you weren’t already aware, Mike Nolan and new Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy have crossed paths before when Nolan hired McCarthy to become his offensive coordinator back in 2005. This is where the two men decided to draft Alex Smith first overall in the draft over Aaron Rodgers.

Second, Nolan was last a defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons from 2012 through 2014 where his defense finished 24th, 27th, and dead last in the league in total yards. The Cowboys poached him from the New Orleans Saints where he had been working as their linebackers coach.

The Dallas Cowboys entered week four with the 26th most yards given up and it will more than likely plummet after this disastrous performance. I am usually an eternal optimist when it comes to anything Dallas Cowboys related but this is not what I and many in this organization thought they were getting.

The fault does not fall solely with Nolan as the entire defensive staff looks unprepared to start football games. Say what you want about Jason Garrett, but his teams were usually ready to play when the first whistle blew. If they stumbled out of their blocks, they were usually back in the game not having a deficit the current Cowboys have faced in such a short period of time.

So if it’s not all Mike Nolan’s fault, who and where do the Dallas Cowboys need to adjust to play decent defense?

It all starts up front and the Dallas Cowboys still need a space-eating defensive tackle to occupy blockers and keep these linebackers free. Defensive lineman Dontari Poe is not a one-technique no matter how big he is. He is a 3 technique in sheep’s clothing.

Poe has the massive size to become what everyone wants but he simply gets pushed out of running lanes and has rarely shown he can occupy or collapse a packet. If the offseason can be redone, I would have signed Damon Harrison over him as “snacks” even in a down year, rarely allowed the opposing defense to generate any momentum on him.

I was wary of this signing as the tandem of Poe and Gerald McCoy ranked 29th in rush defense last season with the Carolina Panthers.

The defense has a feel like they are playing defensive ends exactly the opposite of what Mike McCarthy says. Allowing your players to play how they want and not to the scheme is exactly the opposite of what I am seeing.

If one player is having a down year I get it but having multiple high-level players fail at what your trying to accomplish tells me the scheme needs to be adjusted and a basic four-man front could help your stars get going. I get some of them are banged up but it needed to be said.

Linebacker Jaylon Smith had the rare ability to recover from what is now an obvious play diagnosis issue. After his injury, he can still be an effective player but the big man upfront issue is now highlighting his weakness. Being a tick late to diagnose is now starting to become his forte.

Bless cornerback Trevon Diggs as it looks like he is always draped on his man but repeatedly ends up on the short end of a great throw. I think that he is already the Cowboys best defensive back even though he has been beaten up a bit. The biggest thing will be keeping his confidence up after a rough start.

Injuries have decimated the back end but I still think that some big plays have been had on this defense due to incorrect alignment and positioning. The second Odell Beckham touchdown catch on Daryl Worley is a prime example of that.

The corner was playing man to man but was looking in the backfield and gave Beckham a free release at the line of scrimmage. Inexcusable on why the corner is playing that way. Being on an island means you are looking at your man and not paying attention to the run.

So, with Mike McCarthy owing most everything he has in his NFL career to Mike Nolan, can and will this team say goodbye to what looks like an obvious problem with no history suggesting it could be corrected, or does McCarthy allow the ship to sink because of the personal history between the two men?

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I am not sure McCarthy has it in him to fire his friend but if owner Jerry Jones is as infuriated and disappointed as I am in how this defense has performed so far, I think that could benefit the entire organization by sending a message that mediocrity will no longer be accepted in Dallas.