Mike Nolan is on borrowed time with the Dallas Cowboys — as in, he’s potentially three weeks away from cleaning out his office at The Star.

The Dallas Morning News reported Tuesday that while Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy will return in 2021, his hand-picked defensive coordinator and longtime pal will not.

Signs have pointed to Nolan’s likely post-season ouster throughout the course of a historically-futile 2020 campaign. But speculation recently intensified after Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones expressed his desire to re-do the defensive arrangement, a strong hint that changes are coming to McCarthy’s coaching staff.

“I will say this, like anybody, you got a lot of do-overs, I’d like to start again on how we approach our defense this year,” Jones said Friday on 105.3 The Fan. “I’d like to start that over again. I’m sure everybody else would, too.”

“I’d start right there (with) the first day (of training camp),” he continued. “By the way, unfortunately, everybody (was dealing with) the same thing. … I would really make sure that any changes we were making, I would want to make sure that we did in the same way that we didn’t make changes on offense. Because we didn’t think we had the time to make those changes and it really be effective. We’ve obviously, done some things, we’ve changed. And we’re having a hard time getting those in place to be a good defense.”

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A Worthy Scapegoat

One could argue that blame supersedes Dallas’ embattled coach. Nolan was hired by McCarthy, who was hired by Jones. He, too, is working with the personnel given to him, and that personnel has proven faulty. Nolan is the biggest culprit, but hardly the only one.

That said, somebody must fall on the sword. The 4-9 Cowboys rank dead last in scoring, having surrendered 400 points across 13 games, nearing the all-time franchise record (436) set in 2010. They’re also 32nd overall against the run, ceding a 307-yard rushing explosion to Cleveland in Week 4 and a 294-yard ground effort to Baltimore in Week 13.

Nose tackle Dontari Poe and defensive end Everson Griffen — released and traded, respectively, around midseason — were scapegoated for Nolan’s mess. It’s arguably since gotten worse. So, the next move, McCarthy strongly indicated, is chopping the head off the proverbial snake.

“I think our staff as a whole is not where we need to be. And that’s ultimately my responsibility,” he said last Friday on 105.3 The Fan.


Nolan Reacts to Rumored Firing

Somewhat predictably, Nolan refuses to confront the possibility (probability) of his removal as defensive boss of the Cowboys. He knows, but he doesn’t know. The writing’s on the wall, but he chooses to turn a blind eye. A dead man walking who won’t admit he’s dead — yet.

“I don’t even think about it,” Nolan told reporters Monday when asked about his future, via Pro Football Talk. “I just take it a day at a time anyway. It’s really not . . . . I prefer not to answer the question because it’s not what’s on my mind. Just take it a day at a time and try to win this game this weekend against San Francisco and whatever happens after the season, happens. When that time comes, we’ll deal with it if there is a change.”

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL

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