If the Dallas Cowboys lose to the Giants, is Mike Nolan gone?

Mike Nolan, Atlanta Falcons (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Mike Nolan, Atlanta Falcons (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

If the Dallas Cowboys lose to the Giants, will the team make a major coaching change?

With a quarter of the 2020 NFL regular season now in the books, the Dallas Cowboys find themselves with a disappointing 1-3 record. And if not for the unlikely success of an onsides ‘Watermelon’ kick, the Cowboys would be winless.

Yet, America’s Team refuses to make any major changes due primarily to the fact the team plays in the worst division in football. The Philadelphia Eagles currently led the NFC East with a 1-2-1 record.

The biggest problem in Dallas has clearly been on the defensive side of the ball. The Cowboys have allowed a league-high 36.5 points a game to opposing offenses so far this season. And their run defense has been atrocious, giving up a whopping 172.5 yards on the ground per game.

Now, that’s not to say the Cowboys’ offense and special teams units haven’t struggled as well. They certainly have. Losing, after all, is often a team effort (or rather a lack thereof).

In fact, Dallas is dead last in turnover differential at -7. The offense has lost six fumbles and throw three interceptions in four games. In turn, the struggling defense has gotten just two takeaways in the same span.

The saving grace for the Cowboys has been their explosive offense. While often slow to start, the offense is capable of putting up a massive amount of points in a short amount of time. Yet, the team is often playing from behind.

The Cowboys actually lead the NFL in plays run with 307. But only seven of those plays have been run when Dallas has held the lead against their opponents. That means for 300 of the 307 plays they’ve run, the Cowboys have either been losing or tied.

Still, the offense has averaged 36+ points per game over their last three contests. Most would agree that’s enough to win in the NFL. And if the Cowboys defense wasn’t among the worst in the league, the team’s trajectory would be very different.

Much of the blame for the Cowboys’ defensive woes have been laid at the feet of new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. And one NFL insider believes if Dallas loses to the 0-4 New York Giants on Sunday afternoon, then Nolan could be fired on Monday.

Here’s what NBC Sports’ Peter King told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk about the day of reckoning that could be coming when asked to fill in the blank to the question: “If the Cowboys can’t beat the Giants … What?”

"“I think they might have to fire Mike Nolan … you’re starting to see the tape gurus saying ‘Man, Dallas not giving a full effort on defense.’ Some of those guys look like there either in a fog, confused, not giving full effort. And, to me, it’s time for Mike McCarthy this week to walk down the hallway, stick his head into Mike Nolan’s office and say ‘Hey Mike, you gotta simplify things.’ … “"

King went on to say how the Cowboys should have gone after defensive tackle Damon Harrison before he was signed by the Seattle Seahawks. And if Giants’ quarterback Daniel Jones, running backs Devonta Freeman, or Wayne Gallman is able to post big numbers against the struggling Cowboys defense this Sunday, there could be a day of reckoning on Monday at The Star in Frisco.

Despite the current questions surrounding the Cowboys defense, including their lack of effort and understanding of Nolan’s complex and multiple defensive scheme, it seems harsh to so quickly judge the results just four games in after a severe lack of offseason training and no preseason games played. Yet, those very same obstacles are being overcome by other teams across the league.

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With each loss, the pressure continues to mount on this new coaching staff to right the ship. So it isn’t hard to imagine why, after losing to a team like the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys might feel they’ve seen enough to make a major change or two.