According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Cowboys on Wednesday hired Whitt as their next secondary coach/defensive pass game coordinator.
Whitt reunites with head coach Mike McCarthy, whom he knew from their time in Green Bay, and new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, whom he worked under in Atlanta.
Whitt interviewed for the coordinator gig that went to Quinn, but Rapoport reported he “really impressed” Dallas owner/general manager Jerry Jones during last week’s meeting.
“Now, he’s on board,” Rapoport added.
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Long a purported target of McCarthy, he was considered for the DC position that went to since-fired Mike Nolan in 2020. The 42-year-old started as Green Bay’s defensive quality coach in 2008, following one season as Atlanta’s assistant defensive backs coach. He was promoted to the Packers’ cornerbacks coach in 2009 and to pass game coordinator in 2018.
The Cleveland Browns hired Whitt in his current role in 2019 before he took the same job with the Falcons, whose secondary was … not great this season, surrendering a league-worst 293.6 passing yards per game. The unit also ranked 17th in interceptions (12).
McCarthy received an up-close look at Whitt’s bunch amid the Cowboys’ miraculous Week 2 comeback win over Atlanta. Quarterback Dak Prescott went 34-of-47 and amassed 450 air yards in the stunning 40-39 victory, spawning a pair of 100-yard receivers (CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper).
With Whitt signed on, the Cowboys should divorce from incumbent secondary coach Maurice Linguist, who was hired this past season. Media reports indicate cornerbacks coach Al Harris is likely to be retained.
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Potential Scheme Switch
The Cowboys moved from a 4-3 defense under Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard to a 3-4 system under Nolan, and the results were … well, epically disastrous. The incumbent personnel — including high-priced defenders DeMarcus Lawrence and Jaylon Smith — was an ill fit for what Nolan hoped to accomplish, and free-agent additions such as Dontari Poe never meshed, either.
Some of this was due to Nolan’s oversized playbook, the bone of contention to many players. Part of it, also, was the toll the COVID-19 pandemic took on the sport, prohibiting teams from holding normal offseason workouts, training camp, and preseason games.
Nolan was dismissed by Dallas last Friday after his defense, albeit injury-marred, allowed the most points (473) in franchise history — 29.6 points per game — blowing past the previous record (436) set in 2010. The unit also ceded the second-most yards (6,183), finishing 31st against the run (158.8 yards per game) and 23rd in total YPG (384.4). Defensive line coach Jim Tomsula was fired along with Nolan.
Quinn ran a 4-3 scheme in Seattle and Atlanta and should begin to install it in Dallas, once he gets boots on the ground — hopefully in a more conventional offseason. This is good news for Lawrence, who logged 6.5 sacks in the second year of his $105 million mega-pact.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL