FRISCO, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys are expected to interview a handful of candidates for the team's vacant defensive coordinator position early next week, as the team looks to solidify a replacement for Dan Quinn after he took the head coaching job for the Washington Commanders.
In-house candidates are expected to include passing game coordinator/secondary coach Joe Whitt Jr. and defensive line coach Aden Durde. Outside candidates include Mike Zimmer and Ron Rivera, according to multiple reports.
Whitt, an NFL defensive coach since 2007, has been a part of coaching staffs with the Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns and has been with the Dallas Cowboys since 2021.
His influence on the secondary has been a big contributing factor to Dallas being a consistent league-leader in takeaways with Trevon Diggs (2021) and DaRon Bland (2023) both leading the NFL in interceptions during his time.
Durde's coaching career saw him start in his home country of Great Britain as the defensive coordinator for the London Warriors of the BAFA National League for six seasons where he won multiple national titles. His career in the NFL began with Dan Quinn with the Atlanta Falcons in 2018 as a defensive quality control coach before being elevated to outside linebackers coach in 2020. He has served with the Cowboys since 2021.
His defensive line development has seen Micah Parsons become a perennial All-Pro, DeMarcus Lawrence become an elite run defender and Osa Odighizuwa become a polished pass rusher from the interior as well.
Zimmer, who was an assistant coach with the Cowboys from 1994 to 2006 including the final seven seasons as defensive coordinator, most recently served in the NFL as the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings from 2014 to 2021. He also served as a consultant under Deion Sanders at Jackson State University in 2022.
The 2003 version of Zimmer's Dallas defense gave up the fewest yards in the NFL under a 4-3 scheme. Two seasons later, he would change his defense to a 3-4 under the preference of newly hired head coach Bill Parcells.
His time as a head coach with the Vikings saw him reach the postseason three times including an appearance in the NFC Championship Game in 2017. His eight seasons saw him put together a 72-56-1 overall record and a 2-3 record in the postseason.
Zimmer has a strong relationship with head coach Mike McCarthy from their years facing off twice a season in the NFC North when McCarthy was with the Packers. When McCarthy was let go by the Packers in 2018, Zimmer publicly expressed his support for him by calling the firing "sad" and a "mistake."
Rivera, who most recently was the head coach for the Washington Commanders from 2020 to his firing on Jan. 8, has been a coach in the NFL for 27 years including 13 years as a head coach and six years as a defensive coordinator.
If hired by Dallas, it would be Rivera's first non-head coaching job since he was the defensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers from 2008 to 2010.
His head coaching record sits at 102-103-2 after 13 seasons with the Commanders and Panthers. His postseason record is 3-5 including an appearance in Super Bowl 50 with the Panthers.