The idea that Dan Quinn and Ron Rivera might be trading places in the NFC East is starting to pick up some steam. As the former Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator takes over in the nation's capital, the former head coach of the Washington Commanders is looking for a new platoon of men to lead. While Quinn rounds out his staff, it just might be Rivera heading west to replace him over in Dallas.
Rivera is supposedly interviewing with the Cowboys for their defensive coordinator post on Monday of Super Bowl week. His stiffest competition might be a former Cowboys defensive coordinator in Mike Zimmer, who is best known for his near-decade run leading the Minnesota Vikings. Dallas clearly wants to go with an experienced defensive mind, especially one who used to be an NFL head coach.
Rivera stems from the Andy Reid coaching tree, having served on his defensive staff when Big Red was leading the Philadelphia Eagles over a decade ago. Prior to working in Washington, Rivera had a great run as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers. He was synonymous with their great run up to 2015 with Cam Newton as their MVP franchise quarterback. That was nearly a decade ago, folks...
The fact Ian Rapoport keeps bringing up Rivera's name to the Dallas job means this one is for real.
Let's discuss the pros and cons of Rivera possibly replacing Quinn on the Cowboys coaching staff.
Pros and cons of Ron Rivera becoming the new DC of the Dallas Cowboys
There are three things I like about Rivera potentially being Quinn's replacement in Dallas. One, he is just like Quinn in that he is massively overqualified for the job. He led his former NFC South franchise to a Super Bowl berth. Rivera was hired by Washington immediately after he was let go in Carolina. This usually is not the case with retreads, but that is the type of respect Rivera commands as a leader.
Two, by going to Dallas, it will keep a similar type of organizational structure in place on Mike McCarthy's staff. He has been propped up by having a former winning head coach serve as his defensive coordinator. Not to say that Zimmer cannot do that, but Rivera has been in the NFL just a tad more recently than Zimmer. It would be a very seamless fit for Rivera to take over for Quinn here.
And three, if McCarthy were to be whacked midseason for any reason at all, Rivera is a tremendous candidate in-house to be the interim head coach. While his days of being a full-time NFL head coach may be over, Rivera is a great motivator and one whose players buy into him as well. Essentially, he is a fire extinguisher that can douse even the most dangerous of grease-fire flames that could ensue.
As for three reasons to not go with the hire, let's start with this. One, this feels pretty shortsided, to be honest with you. McCarthy's seat is hotter than the freaking sun, which leads me to believe that it is a matter of months before Rivera will be tasked to carry this team to the finish line should they get off to a slow start relative to the Cowboys' ridiculous expectations that they have to navigate every year.
Two, I feel like going with a long-time head coach to be your defensive coordinator suggests that something might get lost in translation. Rivera has spent the last decade and a half being the face of a franchise, a CEO-type, if you will. Going back to the drawing board as being merely a defensive coordinator could be tricky, especially with play-calling evolving several times over every few years.
And three, I don't think hiring Rivera elevates the Cowboys' ceiling at all. They will have the false-ceilinged belief of maybe even thinking about getting to an NFC Championship game, only to come up painfully short by losing either on Super Wild Card Weekend or during the Divisional Round. Dallas needs to add a true difference-maker to offset losing Quinn, but I am skeptical Rivera would be that.
Overall, I think we just need to embrace the fact that Jerry Jones is going to force-hire either Rivera or Zimmer onto McCarthy's staff. Though I expect for either defensive coordinator candidate to shine in his new role, the same reasons for postseason failure will show up in December or January of next year. For as long as Jones loves control as much as his own family, things are never going to change.
I would hire Rivera, simply because the Cowboys would be gaining valuable intel on a division rival.