Getting Defensive: Looking At Defensive Coordinator Candidates


Getting Defensive
Looking At Defensive Coordinator Candidates

Nick Eatman Staff Writer

Vic Fangio has coached 3-4 defenses in Baltimore and Houston.

IRVING, Texas – Technically, this would be Jason Garrett’s first real week on the job as the new head coach of the Cowboys.

Yes, he was the interim coach beginning on Nov. 8 and has carried himself as the head coach. But with the job officially his, and team owner and GM Jerry Jones saying he has “final say” in all coaching decisions and will have a strong voice in player personnel, then you can expect Garrett to be busy here this week.

Since the rosters are frozen until after the Super Bowl, the first order of business has to be the coaching staff. And leading the way will be the search for a defensive coordinator.

Monday, the Cowboys brought in Vic Fangio, who was rumored to follow Jim Harbaugh from Stanford to the 49ers. Fangio has 3-4 experience, having coached in Baltimore and Houston under Dom Capers.

But Fangio’s interview should be the first of a few this week as the Cowboys will likely explore all options. And there are several names being rumored and speculated.

Heading that list would be Paul Pasqualoni, the team’s interim defensive coordinator for the last eight games. Still under contract for the 2011 season, he served as the defensive line coach to begin the year, and has coached linebackers and tight ends in his time with the team.

Here are some other names that could be possible targets for the Cowboys:

Todd Bowles – Still under contract in Miami as the team’s assistant head coach/secondary coach, Bowles did interview for the Cowboys’ head-coaching position last week. He might have been a stronger candidate for defensive coordinator before the Dolphins decided to keep Tony Sparano as head coach. Now it appears the Dolphins will want to keep some continuity on the staff.

Mike Nolan – Like Bowles, Nolan is also under contract in Miami as the defensive coordinator. And when it seemed like the Dolphins were trying to get Jim Harbaugh from Stanford, there was a chance to snag some of these Miami assistants. Now, it appears Nolan will continue on staff with the Dolphins.

Eric Mangini – The former Browns head coach is a 3-4 guy who helped Cleveland’s defense make a turnaround. He also did the same with the Jets and always had productive defenses in New England under Bill Belichick.

Dave Wannstedt – Let go at the University of Pittsburgh, Wannstedt would be a hot commodity for any team, especially running a 4-3 scheme. A former Bears and Dolphins head coach, as well as a Cowboys defensive coordinator from 1989-92, he is being rumored as a candidate in San Diego if Ron Rivera gets a head-coaching job.

Greg Manusky – With Jim Harbaugh going to the 49ers, it’s unclear if he will clean house with San Francisco’s assistant coaches, one of which is Manusky, a fiery former player who has coached four seasons with the ‘Niners. Before that, he was with Wade Phillips in San Diego as the linebackers coach, so he knows a thing or two about the 3-4 scheme.

Vic Fangio – If indeed Jim Harbaugh decides to bring his own coaches to the 49ers, one of them will likely be Fangio, possibly to run the defense. Fangio was the defensive coordinator at Stanford and has plenty of NFL ties, having coached from 1986-2009 on various teams, including the Saints, Panthers, Colts, Texans and Ravens. Fangio spent four years with Houston under Dom Capers.

Todd Grantham – The former Cowboys defensive line coach left for Georgia last season. He is highly respected among the players, particularly the defensive linemen on this roster. While Georgia did struggle to meet its own standards in 2010, going 6-7, Grantham did slightly improve a Bulldogs defense that was one of the worst in the SEC in 2009.

Mike Singletary – Fired as the 49ers head coach, Singletary will certainly look to get back into coaching in some capacity. Considering he was one of 10 candidates to interview for the Cowboys’ head coaching job in 2007, Singletary is likely still on Jones’ radar. However, don’t forget that Singletary has never been a defensive coordinator before. He was either a linebackers coach or assistant head coach before he got the 49ers gig.

Dick Jauron – The former Bears and Bills head coach is currently on the Eagles’ staff as the defensive backs coach and senior assistant. While he might still be under contract, it’s likely Philadelphia might allow him the chance to become a coordinator again, even if it’s within the division.

John Fox – It seems like the former Panthers’ coach still has the chance to become a head coach within the league. If that happens, then of course Fox will jump at the opportunity. But if his best option is defensive coordinator, then he certainly would add some instant experience to the staff. However, Fox is more a 4-3 coach and Jones has said he envisions the Cowboys’ remaining as 3-4 defense. Still, it might be worth the look.

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