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Five Possible Candidates to be Dallas's Defensive Coordinator

One of the things Dallas has to address this offseason besides the head coaching spot is the defensive coordinator position. Wade Phillips was not only the head coach, but he also called defensive plays. The Cowboys defense was tremendous in 2009, but in 2010 they fell into a swamp and couldn't get out of it. Now that Wade Phillips is gone, the Cowboys need to ask themselves who should run the defense next season (Should there be one).

I think there should be five names that definitely need attention drawn to and also what are their strengths, weaknesses, and odds of coming to Dallas to coach.

SYRACUSE PREVIEW

Paul Pasqualoni: They say that when elections come around, the biggest advantage one has is being the incumbent aka the guy who currently holds the coveted position. Well, that may be the case for Democrats vs. Republicans, but in football, no one's job is safe if they have a bad enough season. Paul Pasqualoni was a defensive coordinator before with the Miami Dolphins, but after a very bad defensive season in 2009, he comes to the Cowboys to be a defensive line coach. He has been with Dallas in the past as a tight ends coach and as a linebackers coach, so he knows both sides of the ball.

Those are the positives. He has a lot of negatives too. While I think that he was a better coach than Phillips because he'd get into the players' faces and let them know that they've got to earn their paycheck, he didn't always have the greatest results. Forget the fact that there were games where Dallas had pick sixes and multiple sacks; look at some of the more basic numbers. In eight games with Phillips, the Cowboys allowed 232 points. In the next eight games with Pasqualoni, they allowed 204 points. That's an average of 25.5 points per game. Is that a mark of a great defense? No, of course not.
This 2010 Cowboys defense was the worst defense in franchise history. They allowed the most points in franchise history with 436, the most yards in franchise history with 5,628, and I wonder if keeping Pasqualoni would be the right move. These guys need a new sheriff. A guy they've never seen before, except on another team, to really signal to them that things are going to be different here. I think Pasqualoni should be an assistant on some level, but defensive coordinator? Regardless of what I think, he is a candidate to recognize.

display_image John Fox: You knew John Fox was going to be available by midseason really. The Panthers did not do a good job for their coach and the numbers show it. They are the worst team in the league with a 2-14 record, dead last in offensive points and yards, 26th in points allowed, and 18th in yards allowed. Just an awful season for Carolina fans.

However, I think John Fox doesn't deserve all the blame really. He took that team to the Super Bowl in 2003, and when Matt Moore didn't achieve like they felt he would and Jimmy Clausen being a rookie, the Panthers offense had to rely on running backs that got injured and a defense that lost its best player, Julius Peppers, to free agency. It was just a recipe for disaster, and I'm not sure any coach could've prevented it from happening really.

John Fox just needed to go, not because he was a bad coach, but because it was just time for a change. A lot of head coaching changes happen because they send messages to players that things are going to be different now. If you keep the same guy in charge, regardless of whether or not it is his fault, the players may have that lingering thought that things aren't going to change because it feels the same. I think Fox's tenure there should be looked upon highly, but it was time for a new architect to take over there.

John Fox is a great coach. I would welcome him with open arms. This is a guy who came within three points of a Super Bowl win, but lost to the Patriots and Adam Vinateri's clutch foot. Not only that, but he knows how to turn teams around. The 2001 Panthers went 1-15 and were just awful. Fox comes in and turns it around in a year to a 7-9 season, and the next year, they got to the Super Bowl. Five times in his tenure, the Panthers finished in the top 10 in scoring and yards allowed on defense.

So, what are his negatives? Well, coming from a 2-14 team isn't the best way to leave someone. He also runs 4-3 defense, so if Dallas hires him, he will probably do some changing on personnel or go to a defense that he doesn't usually use. Dallas has a 3-4 set up already here, but I think DeMarcus Ware could change to a defensive end with his hand in the ground, and the same goes for Anthony Spencer.

I think Fox also has a friendly relationship with Jerry Jones, so he could come here. Will he come here? I'm not sure because he may get a head coaching job still. He is still highly respected in many circles, so a defensive coordinator position may not be what he wants. I'm not a bookie, so I can't give the odds on him coming, but I'd say since there hasn't been any rumor of him coming, then he probably is not going to be here, but you never do really know until Jerry Jones makes the announcement.

Cleveland Browns 2009 Football Headshots Rob Ryan: Look familiar? Well, if you follow sports, he should because you know his twin brother is Rex Ryan, the head coach of the New York Jets. From what I understand, he's a great coach like his brother, so I wonder if Dallas should join alliance with him.

The thing I like a lot about this guy is he is, to borrow the phrase Don Shula used to describe himself, "as subtle as a punch in the mouth." He's a tough guy who has been bred to be a defensive coach because his father, Buddy Ryan, is the innovator of the 46 defense of the 1985 Chicago Bears. He's got that confidence in himself that may come across as arrogance, but not the kind of arrogance that would make his players dislike him.

This guy has two Super Bowl rings with the Patriots dynasty, where he coached their fine group of linebackers, so this guy can definitely be someone who can groom Anthony Spencer and Sean Lee to be Pro Bowl players. He also was the Browns defensive coordinator where he had success there.

So what are the negatives about him? None in terms of scheme because he runs a 3-4, but I think he may not want to come here to Dallas. He may want a head coaching job somewhere, or he may stay in Cleveland because he's done a good job there and I think he's under contract, but if Dallas could tempt him here, it would definitely be a victory.

I, personally, want this guy because I like his style. I think he would have these guys playing like the defense we've seen before. I really hope that Jerry Jones gets him. He did very well with rookies in Cleveland. The Browns weren't the greatest defense, but they were a young team too, so who knows what he could do with them if they were veterans like the guys in Dallas.

eric_mangini3Eric Mangini: This guy is someone who you might want, but might not. As a head coach, he's had little success really, but he's got three rings with the Patriots as an assistant. I just don't personally like him. He was the guy who spilled the beans about Spygate, and how the Patriots were illegally taping teams' practices. Belichick and him used to be friends, but now they don't even shake hands for longer than two seconds after they face each other.

He was a pretty good defensive backs coach with New England. The secondaries there weren't the worst in terms of numbers, but they weren't top 5 in passing yards allowed either. Only one year as a head coach did his team make the playoffs or finish in the top ten in scoring defense, and that was in 2006 in his first year with the Jets. I don't get the feeling that this guy would put the Cowboys over the top.

He does run a 3-4 defense, so that's a positive, but I'd rather have Rob Ryan over Eric Mangini any day of the week really.

Odds that he comes to Dallas? He's got a really good shot because he does not have the resume to be given a head coach job again because he failed with the Jets and with the Browns, where he coached last. He is going to have to settle for a coordinator position; I just don't see him getting a head coach job unless it is by someone who doesn't know what they are doing.

mike20singletaryMike Singletary: Mike Singletary did not do a good enough job with the 49ers. Plain and simple. I don't know if Singletary is totally to blame because they had a quarterback battle between Alex and Troy Smith (no relation), but they were a team expected to run away with the division. He is a guy who I think would be a great college coach. Young boys look up to him and see a legendary linebacker who is in the Hall of Fame as a player. He's also a licensed minister, and a motivational speaker. If you ever listen to the man talk, you'll notice he has a voice that is very easy on the ears.

He's a smart man, who ran a 3-4 defense in San Francisco and even interviewed for the head coach position in 2007, but he became the defensive coordinator in San Francisco. He's a Baylor alumnus, which is located in Waco, a mere drive away from Dallas. He's got the image still, and Dallas is a good place for him because they do have young linebackers that can grow from his teachings.

The really good thing about him is that while the 49ers were not a great team, they dominated teams against the run. The 49ers were 23rd in rushing attempts against them. That means that they were defending the run often they were still sixth in rushing yards allowed, and eight in rushing touchdowns allowed so teams went against them knowing that they'd have to pass the ball to win. Dallas had problems against the run last year at times to say the least, and if Singletary could come here and shut it down, it would definitely help Dallas return to playoffs.

I think that offensive problems are what cost the 49ers the NFC West, so if Dallas got Singletary as merely a defensive guy, then he should be a good hire for Dallas overall. He's definitely someone that Jerry Jones should look at hard.

James Williamson's extra two cents: There are definitely more guys out there. Don't think these five are it, but I think these five are some of the more qualified and bigger names out there. My personal list would be in this order: Rob Ryan, John Fox, Mike Singletary, Paul Pasqualoni, and then Eric Mangini. I know Mangini was a head coach, but my intuitions just tell me he is not the right guy for Dallas.

Other thoughts: How many of you were ecstatic to see TCU win the Rose Bowl? I was jumping up and down around my living room. Also, how many have been watching TCM and the Laurel and Hardy marathon? My how times have changed from those two. They reinvented slapstick comedy for sure.

You can follow me on Twitter if you like here: http://twitter.com/#!/WilliamsonJimmy

Also, write any questions or comments and leave an email, and I'll be happy to answer them as best as I can.

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