Cowboys Hire Former Jason Garrett Intern as New Defensive Coach: Report

Jason Garrett

Getty Jason Garrett

The Dallas Cowboys made an outside-the-box addition to Mike McCarthy’s staff, hiring Aden Durde as the new defensive line coach, ESPN’s Todd Archer reported Wednesday.

A native of England, Durde’s path to Texas is highly unconventional. He cut his teeth around the sport as a player for the London Olympians of the British American Football Association, the Scottish Claymores of the World League of American Football, and the Hamburg Sea Devils of NFL Europe.

He had a cup of coffee with the Carolina Panthers in 2005 and the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008 before graduating to coaching.

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Durde’s first such break came with the Cowboys, according to Archer, as an intern under former head coach Jason Garrett. The 41-year-old then spun that into a defensive quality control gig with the Atlanta Falcons that he held from 2018-19. He was promoted to outside linebackers coach last season by since-fired Falcons HC/since-hired Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

Although Quinn’s side of the ball largely contributed to the team’s 4-12 record, there were a few bright spots on Durde’s watch, including LB Foyesade Oluokun. A 2018 sixth-round relative unknown, Oluokun broke out to lead the team in tackles (117). He was all over the field, tallying four forced fumbles, four pass deflections, three sacks, and two interceptions. Oluokun notched five solo tackles amid the Cowboys’ wild Week 2 comeback victory over the Falcons.

In Dallas, having moved to the defensive line, Durde inherits a talented yet underachieving group led by $105 million pass-rusher DeMarcus Lawrence, who posted 6.5 sacks in 2020 (but graded out as Pro Football Focus’ fifth-best edge defender). The Cowboys are likely to address this area through the draft, but there are a few young building blocks in Bradlee Anae and Neville Gallimore.

Durde replaces Jim Tomsula, who was fired by the Cowboys on Jan. 3 along with now-former DC Mike Nolan.

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Dallas Taps New Strength Coach

The team announced via its official website on Wednesday that Harold Nash Jr. will be elevated to head strength and conditioning coach. Nash assumed the role on an interim basis after former strength boss Markus Paul passed away prior to Thanksgiving.

Nash has 16 years of NFL experience, including seven years as the head strength coach. He held that position in New England for five years from 2011-15 and then went to Detroit in the same role from 2016-18.

This offseason, Nash and his staff will work with the Cowboys athletic trainers to rehab some key injuries from last year. Players such as Dak Prescott, Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, Blake Jarwin and Trysten Hill all had surgeries last year. And already this month, Amari Cooper and Jaylon Smith have had clean-up surgeries as well.

There has been a whirlwind of recent news related to McCarthy’s staff; the Philadelphia Eagles interviewed offensive coordinator Kellen Moore for their vacant HC position on Tuesday while the Eagles are similarly interested in special teams coordinator John Fassel.

It was also reported Tuesday that Maurice Linguist, the Cowboys’ secondary coach in 2020, left the team to become the co-defensive coordinator at Michigan. Linguist began seeking new employment after Dallas hired Joe Whitt Jr. as its next defensive backs coach.

READ NEXT: Eagles Take Big Step Toward Potentially Hiring Kellen Moore as HC: Report

Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL

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