FRISCO, Texas – Mike McCarthy seems to have wasted no time in getting started.
The Cowboys tabbed McCarthy as their ninth head coach on Monday, and they officially announced it on Tuesday. Even in that short time span, it sounds like he has been at work assembling a coaching staff. Multiple reports indicate that he has targeted veteran NFL coach Mike Nolan to be his defensive coordinator moving forward.
The move hasn't been made official, and that's for good reason. Nolan was serving as the linebackers coach for the New Orleans Saints as recently as Sunday during their playoff loss to Minnesota, and he is still in the process of wrapping up his duties there.
Nolan just finished his third season in that position for the Saints, but his NFL resume is about as extensive as possible. He has been coaching in the NFL in some capacity for 33 years, going back to his days as a special teams coach for the Denver Broncos in the late 80s.
Across that time span, he has served as a defensive coordinator for seven different clubs – making this his eighth stint in that position. During that stretch, he spent four seasons as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. That is where his path crossed with McCarthy's, as McCarthy spent one season as Nolan's offensive coordinator before being hired away as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers.
Nolan's ties to the Cowboys go deeper than this job, though. His father, Dick Nolan, spent six years with the organization – mainly as defensive coordinator, though he played defensive back for the team in 1962. After a decorated career across the league, he also returned to Dallas to coach wide receivers and defensive backs from 1982-1990.
Born in 1959, the younger Nolan spent his early years in the area as a result of his father's work.
It remains to be seen what Nolan's hire will mean for the Cowboys' defensive personnel. He has coached both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes during his illustrious career. Under Rod Marinelli, the Cowboys have primarily used a 4-3 defense since 2013, which could make a transition difficult.
That will all be sorted out in the future. McCarthy still has to finalize the rest of his coaching staff. But in Nolan, he has found himself an experienced and familiar defensive coordinator.